Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Balfron to Dumgoyne, Stirling

I got lost. That pretty much sums up today's walk :(

With the intention of walking from Killearn to Stockiemuir, I took the number 10 firstbus (Glasgow to Balfron) and got off at Blane Smithy roundabout. Instead of taking the road to the left, I took the road straight-ahead (Northwards). To make matters worse, I forgot to bring my map.

I followed the A81 up to Gartness where there were many fields full of Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) and Curlews (Numenius arquata). In flight you can see the lapwing's distinctive large rounded wings.

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus) female
Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

When I reached Killearn Bridge I was able to leave the road and have my lunch on the banks of the River Endrick (and have a wee look for Otters!). Plenty of Lapwings nesting here too. Swifts (Apus apus) reeled through the air above, swinging low over the river in pursuit of insects.

Once I reached Balfron it was clear that I had taken the wrong turn-off, so I went back the way I came. Along the way I came across a dead Tawny Owl (Strix aluco) on the road.

Just after Blane Smithy Roundabout, heading Southwards, I suddenly heard the loud peeping of baby birds. The calls were coming from a chiselled hole, high up in an oak tree. I watched the nest hole and didn't have to wait long for a Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) to return. I had to stand a short distance from the tree for the female to enter the nest-hole (she was very wary of me).

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) female at nest 

Further along I took a detour to look at a little forest on the banks of the Endrick which was carpeted with delictae white Ramsons (Allium ursinum), also known as Wild Garlic. This plant is a wild relative of the cultivated Garlic (Allium sativum) and is very edible!

Ramsons (Allium ursinum)

In the sheep fields below Dumgoyne were more nesting Lapwings and, just at the roadside, a loudly piping Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) which tried to lead me away from its clutch of speckled eggs.

Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

Shortly after this I managed to hitch a lift to Milngavie train station, where I caught a train home.

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