COMMERCIAL plantation forestry is often regarded as being not very biodiverse, but this is not always the case, and I find that the verges of forest tracks in the Ochils are great places for wildflowers and insects.

A recent walk in Dunning Glen near Muckhart illustrated this vividly and I continually stopped in my tracks to examine wildflowers such as eyebright, knapweed and a wonderful flourish of sparkling yellow meadow vetchling.

Wild raspberries were also out in their full glory, and it was impossible to resist the temptation to stop every so often to pop their sweet fruits into my mouth.

Until the 16th century, the wild raspberry shrub was known as hindberry, presumably because it was eaten by deer.

However, with the arrival of more cultivated varieties the name changed to raspberry, although the origin of this new nomenclature is unclear.

In a ditch by the edge of the track I found a couple of palmate newts.

They are widespread in the Ochils and most ditches, hill ponds, and even wheel-rut puddles will hold a few.

At this time of year, they often wander far and wide from water courses as they fatten themselves on invertebrates in preparation for hibernation over the winter.

A few weeks previously in the same area I had stumbled upon a lizard as it emerged from a tangle of grass and heather.

Lizards are not especially common in the Ochils, but Dunning Glen is a good spot for them, and they have also been recorded in the hills above Dollar.

They are shy and skittish creatures and often hard to approach close, but this one had not seen me, and I managed to take several photographs before it scuttled away.

Like the newts, lizards are also busily feeding to put on reserves before entering hibernation in the autumn.

Lizards are frequently preyed upon by kestrels and stoats, however if it is seized by the tail, it can shed it to make good its escape.

A new tail will regrow, but it is never as long or as perfect as the original.