Monday, 28 December 2009

Kilpatrick Hills, West Dunbartonshire

This week we experienced the deepest snow-fall in over 20 years - waist-high in parts of the Kilpatrick Hills!

Keen to look for tracks and trails - my dad and I took a circular route up to the Greenside Reservoir and back.

Above the layer of fog which lay across Glasgow and the Clyde valley, the sky was clear azure-blue and the snow sparkled brilliantly in the sunshine.

The hills were transformed by the snow, mist and sun, into an almost lunar landscape - our footprints were the first human ones on this unfamiliar terrain.

Kilpatrick Hills snow

Kilpatrick Hills snow

Kilpatrick Hills snow

Further into the hills, the snow proved a real challenge to walk through.

Walking up the Cochno Hill towards the Greenside, a foraging flock of Reed Buntings (Emberiza scheoniclus) alighted on the snow ahead of us.

Kilpatrick Hills reed bunting
Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) female

The view from the Greenside was spectacular! Duncolm is a volcanic plug - at 401 metres it is the highest point in the Kilpatrick Hills. Covered with snow, it somewhat resembled a huge dumpling, dusted with icing sugar! Yum!
*now craving mum's home-made dumpling*

...EXACTLY the sort of high energy food you should bring with you on a hike like this!

View of Duncolm
Greenside Reservoir
Greenside Reservoir
The snow really brings out the textures of grasses and reeds:

Bracken in snow

In the snow, even shy and reclusive animals cannot help but leave a record of their movements.

These footprints (at Little Round Top) belong to a Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus):

Pheasant footprints
Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) footprints
These tiny footprints (below) most likely belong to either a Bank Vole or Field Vole (no tail drag - unlike a Wood Mouse's footprints).

Vole footprints
Vole footprints
We found these much larger tracks near the Greenside Reservoir - they belong to a Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus). The distance between strides was over 2 metres!! These graceful long-legged gallopers have a very different gait from rabbits.

Brown Hare footprints
Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus) footprints
Brown Hare footprints
Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus) footprints
These large, long-clawed footprints belong to a Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis): note the lack of tail drag.
Grey Squirrel footprints
Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) footprints

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