Glacial rock and ancient tree found during work at city park

A glacial rock believed to be thousands of years old and a tree trunk buried under layers of silt and eventually grassed over have been uncovered during work in a popular city park.

The amazing finds were both dug up by contractors working on the £90,000 wetlands project, which is being turned into a wildlife area, in Seaton Park.

The rock was dug up near the sports pitch area and is believed to have been washed down during the ice age – it is a glacial erratic, a piece of rock that differs from the size and type of rock native to the area in which it rests.

It could not be moved by the diggers at the site and has been left at the spot it was found at the moment. The contractors, which have the bigger machinery, will move it once the works on the wetland area is complete to an appropriate spot near the wetland once works on the project is complete.

The large tree trunk, which was also found beneath the pitch, is believed to have been deposited in the spot it was found when Seaton Park was actually still part of the River Don. The contractors have asked a university expert to look at a sample of the tree and try and work out what species it is and determine how old it is.

The tree has already been moved next to the new wetland area and the plan is to include details of both the rock and tree in an information panel to provide a bit of history of the park.

Aberdeen City Council Communities, Housing and Infrastructure vice convener Councillor Jean Morrison said: “It’s been great to see the work come together at Seaton Park and then for these two discoveries to have been made, makes it even more exciting.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the completed Seaton Park Wetlands and I’m sure generations of Aberdonians to come will appreciate the area along with the interesting finds of the glacial rock and the huge tree trunk under the ground.”

Meanwhile, part of the work on the wetlands project was stopped temporarily – due to a pair of nesting love-bird swans.

The swans had built a nest and they had settled in at the former flooded grassland in mid-April.

They stayed on the nest until last week however unfortunately no chicks hatched. Some of the work in that area was put on hold - and contractors worked on other parts of the job instead - until the swans had left the nest but has now re-started. The work on the wildlife area is due to be completed at the end of July.

Aberdeen City Council Countryside Officer Ian Talboys explained: “It was such a shame no chicks hatched as the Countryside Rangers, the park staff and many more members of the public were looking forward to seeing little cygnets.

“However, sometimes it can take young swans at least a couple of years of nesting before any eggs are hatched so our fingers are crossed they nest again there next year.”

The wetland has had some successful bird breeding this year with three pairs of mallard ducks each producing a raft of cute ducklings.

Ian said people going to watch the duck parents and their waddling offspring should be careful about the food they give them.

“We know people traditionally throw bread to ducks and other wildfowl but it’s not actually good for birds and isn’t easy for them to digest,” he said.

“This is particularly the case when they are breeding but also for the ducklings as they are growing. If people are going to be generous and bring food for the birds, they would be better buying some wild bird food as it has the right kind of nutrients birds, and particularly young birds, need.

“We love seeing people and families enjoying watching these birds in their natural habitat and seeing young ducklings grow up in the coming weeks is very exciting.”

The major programme of works is embracing recent environmental changes in the park which have meant areas of flooding, and includes a man-made wetland surrounded by natural plants and a wooden viewing point.

Aberdeen City Council is leading the project in partnership with community group Friends of Seaton Parks to enhance the natural biodiversity, attracting more wildlife to the space and encourage greater community use.

Friends of Seaton Park chairwoman Sheila Gordon said: "It is so good to see the work on the Wetlands all coming together now.

“It was hard to visualise when it was words and pictures but now the diggers have access to the Wetlands and much of the other work is nearing completion, it is possible to get a better idea of what the finished park will look like - watching the diggers at work is fascinating as they are creating a work of art with huge machinery."

The works at the park includes digging out the wetland, repairing drainage, and adding paths, signage and planting.

The new Seaton Park Wetland Project was inspired by the recent success of the East Tullos Burn Environment Improvements Project at St Fittick’s Park, where flooding was alleviated with the inclusion of wetlands to manage water levels from the burn, as well as improved access and increased biodiversity.