Although the forest was fascinating, it was undoubtedly a strange and slightly unnerving environment. Old, storm-felled trees lay higgledy-piggledy across unpleasantly oily black bogs, where bright green mosses thrived, almost glowing in the low light. Beneath the upturned roots were dark caverns which Algy dared not explore, and which the patches of sunlight that filtered through from the forest canopy could not illuminate.

Algy could see that not only did the fallen trees host the growth of many smaller plants which took root in their bark, but many of them lived on, despite being uprooted, putting out new branches which stretched upwards towards the sky. Sometimes a brand new sapling of a different tree sprang forth from a hollow in the trunk of a fallen pine or larch. And high above it all towered the trees that were still standing, their lower branches crowded and bare except around the clearings where others had fallen, but their tops crowned with masses of bright green needles.

Algy gazed at the scene and marvelled… and decided that perhaps it was time to return to his home by the ocean, where everything was fresh and open and bright… 

Like many other creatures living in the not-so-United Kingdom, Algy had suddenly found himself swept into a very boggy place…

Once he had managed to catch his breath, he settled on a damp cushion of moss in a soggy ditch, and gazed at the tangled jungle of ferns, grasses and other wild plants around him, pondering the extraordinary situation. As those who have read Algy’s first book A Surprisingly Fluffy Bird will know, Algy is himself an immigrant from a foreign land. When he first arrived on the west coast of Scotland, he was jeered and bullied at times by creatures who did not welcome strangers, but despite this he managed to make many fine new friends and a happy home in Scotland.

So Algy sends very special fluffy hugs to all the other immigrants in the UK who have been made to feel unwelcome by recent events, and to all his friends in Europe who may feel that they have been brushed off. Algy still loves you all, and like the majority of folk in Scotland, he hopes and intends to remain firmly European and to continue welcoming other Europeans to this beautiful land 🙂

It was a surprisingly warm day for the West Highlands, but in the ancient  woodland it was pleasantly shady and cool. Algy moved to another mossy seat, a wee bit further up the burn, and gazed up the hillside. He was fascinated by the way the water had carved its way down the steep hill over the years, creating many pretty little waterfalls and tiny splashing pools among the rocks. Although the water had washed the thin, peaty soil away to bare rock along its course, the sides of the burn were richly lined with mosses, ferns and many tiny plants which loved the damp atmosphere, as well as slender birches and other trees which grew close to the steep banks and overhung the water. It was a wonderful place to spend a lazy spring afternoon…

The Scotch mist kept sweeping across the sea and the hills in huge fuzzy waves, obscuring everything as it smothered the land with a swirling wet blanket of pale grey. Algy found himself a perch on a damp but comfortable rock, and looked around. The landscape as a whole had mostly vanished, but as he gazed at the damp mosses and lichens on his rock, and the tangled stems of last year’s bracken, he found that the colours began to glow, despite the general greyness of the mist. Higher up in the branches above his head, a robin started to sing in a beautiful, clear voice, and Algy smiled. It might still look like winter, but tomorrow was his birthday and that meant that spring, with all its flowers and songs, was just around the next corner!

Algy sends his fluffiest thanks to all his wonderful friends who have already sent birthday posts and greetings for his birthday celebrations tomorrow.

Algy invites you all to his 4th Tumblr birthday party on Algy’s own sideblog @lovefromalgy tomorrow (Sunday 13th March 2016) – there will be lots of fun, free Kindle books, ice cream, wonderful images from Algy’s friends, and all kinds of fluffy surprises! To join in the fun and celebrations, please use the lovefromalgy submission form or send Algy a link to a post on your own blog.

The forest floor was covered in a deep carpet of mosses, ferns, and small leafy plants, as well as some straggly grasses and broken twigs, and there were many cushioned perches available for a fluffy bird. But the plants were shimmering with a strange and slighly unnatural glow that puzzled Algy, as they grew so far below the sunlight, which only filtered through the canopy high above them in places where the trees were not too dense.

The weather was harsh. Frequent heavy showers of hail and sleet were sweeping across the West Highlands on a strong north-westerly wind, leaving everything feeling exceedingly wet and cold. Algy took cover in a sheltered, mossy spot, well protected by the broken stems of last year’s bracken. As he tucked his head down out of the icy wind, Algy marvelled at the range of shapes and colours in the miniature environment in front of his beak, and was delighted to find tiny, glistening drops of water on delicate webs which spiders had woven between the mosses.

In view of the horribly cold north-east wind that was howling across the open moorland, Algy decided that this might be an ideal time to visit the woodlands which bordered the loch on the sheltered side of the peninsula. It would be calm on the woodland floor beneath the trees, and exciting to see the new spring leaves.

So Algy flew some distance away from the exposed hills and coast, until he reached an area of interestingly mixed woodland which was undergoing a process of regeneration. A large, mossy log beneath a wee stand of tall, thin larches provided a soft and pleasant perch, so Algy made himself comfortable, and gazed happily around at the young tree seedlings which seemed to springing up everywhere he looked.

Where the woods were more mixed there were fewer leaves left on the trees, as most of the silver birches were almost bare now. The sun streamed through the maze of branches, lighting up the shy mosses and ferns on the woodland floor. Algy discovered a lovely soft bed at the foot of a hollow tree trunk, and dozed happily in the gentle autumn sun for a while.

Although the river was beautiful, it lacked the soft intimacy of the wee burn which joined it. Algy was fascinated by the clear, shallow water sparkling over its dark bed of stones and peat, and by all the green ferns and mosses which thrived in the damp environment. There were so many tiny details to study; every part of the burn and its banks seemed alive and busy.

Listen to the sounds of the burn, with the river in the background, just as Algy heard them …