Standing on the hill we look south across Loch Bran bog and behind us lie large areas of whin shrubs. Whin bushes are both a benefit and potential problem on the reserve and they are managed to prevent them encroaching across other important habitats.
Whin bushes are leguminous, which means that they capture nitrogen from the air and use it as their own natural fertiliser. This helps whin thrive and outcompete almost any other plant on poorer, drier soils. The net effect of whin growth is that it can quickly spread and enrich the soil and this can damage nutrient-poor ecosystems such as the bog land around Loch Bran. Whin however is also a very important plant for many species. Its bright yellow blossoms providing essential pollen and nectar to several species of bee and other insects, especially early in the year, when little else is available. Whin is ideal for a range of nesting heathland, downland and farmland birds, including the, Stonechat Linnet and Yellowhammer. The dense structure also provides important refuge for these birds in harsh weather.
The amount of whin on the reserve is controlled to maximise the wildlife benefit from this important species, while not allowing it to encroach on to other sensitive habitats.