Burn of Midsands (Greenland Links), Thurso
Located near the sweeping arc of Dunnet Bay - itself a haven for seabirds - this coastal meadow hosts a wide range of wild flowers. There is a very special Scottish feel to the mosaic of plants and habitats found here. In damper parts of the meadow, the beautiful endemic Scottish primrose studs the grass with its yellow-eyed purple flowers, jostling for space alongside grass of parnassus. Rare hair sedge also grows here, while in drier areas, field gentian, wild thyme and frog orchid can be found.
With the richness of its flora, this meadow is also home to the great yellow bumblebee, feeding on nectar from plants such as knapweed and kidney-vetch, and the most northerly population of small blue butterflies (see 'Species to spot' below), who’s caterpillars feed on plants including common bird’s-foot-trefoil and white clover.
Species to spot
Small blue butterfly
Best time to see: May - June
Our smallest native butterfly isn't actually especialy blue, despite its name with its upper wings being mainly dark brown. Its caterpillars feed on kidney vetch. Image © Harald Süpfle/CC BY-SA
Best time to see: June - Sept
A thistle-like plant also known as 'black knapweed', although its flowers are actually bright pink. It is a popular source of nectar for the Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, Peacock, Painted Lady and many other butterflies.
Mr Hamish Pottinger