Thursday, 12 June 2008

Kilpatrick Hills, West Dunbartonshire

I took another walk over the Kilpatrick Hills with a friend and this time we walked from Duntocher to the Jaw Reservoir (via the Test), then to the Kilmannan Reservoir, to the Whangie and eventually to Carbeth: where we caught a bus back to Glasgow.

At Little Round Top, amongst the few Hawthorns still blossoming, we found this specimen with unusually pink flowers.

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)

Wild Pansies (Viola tricolor) are in full flower on the grassy hill near the Test. We disturbed a Brown Hare at the Test: it loped along slowly, crossing the small river and disappeared into the heather. In the heather I found a Stoat's skull, which I took home to add to my collection :)

Water Avens (Geum rivale) were flowering in the marshy area between the Greenside and Cochno Reservoirs.

Water Avens (Geum rivale)

The fragrant root of Water Avens can be boiled in water to produce a chocolate-like drink which is strongly astringent due to its high tannin content.

Near to the Jaw Reservoir we saw numerous Small Heath butterflies (Coenonympha pamphilus) - a common species whose larvae feed on grasses.

Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)

At the Kilmannan Reservoir there are both Common Spotted Orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) and Northern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza purpurella). The Northern Marsh Orchid can be easily distinguished by its unspotted leaves and magenta-red flowers with diamond-shaped unlobed/shallowly lobed lower petals that are marked with irregular lines and dots.

Northern Marsh Orchid (Dactylorhiza purpurella)

The dried bulbs of Dactylorhiza genus orchids can be ground into a nutritious flour called Salep (which contains the polysaccharide glucomannan). Salep flour can be used to make the beverage salep and is a key ingredient in the Turkish ice-cream dondurma:

Along the Audmurroch Burn near the Kilmannan Reservoir, there were many bright orange Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries (Boloria selene) feeding on thistles. This species is very similiar to the Pearl Bordered Fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) but the main differences are its smaller size, greater number of white pearl markings on the underside of the hind wings and its slightly later flight period. The larvae of both species feed on Common Dog Violet and Marsh Violet.

Boloria means 'fishing net' in Latin and describes the chequered patterning of the wings; selene is the name of a Greek titaness/moon deity.

Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary (Boloria selene) female

The moorland around the Whangie was covered in candy-pink Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus) flowers - I'll have to wait until late summer to pick the berries.

Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus)

We followed the A809 from Queen's View to Carbeth: a dangerous road with speeding vehicles and without a pavement. Walking along this stretch of road requires you to press yourself against thorny hedges and walk through patches of nettles and brambles :(

Poplar Hawkmoth (Laothoe populi) female
Poplar Hawkmoth (Laothoe populi) female

The Poplar Hawkmoth (Laothoe populi) is an impressively large moth whose larvae feed on Poplar and Sallow. Adult moths are sluggish, slow-flying and do not feed. The hind wings are held in front of the fore wings at rest - this unusual wing posture is part of the moth's dead-leaf camouflage.

Before we got the bus home from Carbeth we had something to eat at the Carbeth Inn: a friendly place full of motorbikers which serves cheap greasy food.

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