Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Kilpatrick Hills, West Dunbartonshire

The aim of today's walk was to look for the elusive Emperor moth (Saturnia pavonia): the only member of the impressive Saturniidae family which is native to the UK. The nocturnal females are difficult to find when resting in the heather. The males, on the other hand, are diurnal with a very characteristic erratic flight pattern. They are difficult to approach: they have no need to feed and therefore, no need to land!

My dad and I walked along the Humphrey Road to the Humphrey reservoir, past the Lily Loch, to Burncrooks reservoir, to the Whangie, crossed Stockie Muir (following one of the unnamed rivers which cross the moor) and we ended our hike at Carbeth Inn.

Saw my first Swallows (Hirundo rustica) of the year above the fields at the end of Beeches Road (Duntocher).

At the Lily Loch we could hear the yickering calls of Little Grebes (Tachybaptus ruficollis): it seems likely that they will breed here again this year.

The sky was clear and cloudless and the sun blazingly warm. We took a detour along the edge of Burn Crooks valley to look for Adders, but found nothing: perhaps they haven't yet emerged from hibernation.

I know it's a bit lame, but I couldn't resist photographing this:

Marker indicating the location of Stop Valves (water mains) at Burn Crooks 

Strangely aesthetically pleasing...I've always been fond of azure-blue.

At the second dam at Burn Crooks, a pair of Grey Wagtails (Motacilla cinerea) were darting about.

As we crossed the moor to the South West of the Whangie, we spotted a male Emperor moth - too fast to photograph :(
At this spot we disturbed a male Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus), still in its darker winter coat, which flared its white rump at us and effortlessly jumped a barbed wire fence and disappeared into the forest.

I collected some Roe Deer hairs from a 'deer couch' on Stockie Muir (where we disturbed another Roe Deer, a female). The coarse hairs were steely grey with brown/black-ticked tips and distinctive 'spongy' texture.

2 Red Grouse (Lagpus lagopus) on Stockie Muir and numerous warblers darting about in the decidous trees which line the Stockie Muir burns. Another male Emperor moth danced rapidly past us.

Wood Warblers (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) could be heard singing: their trilling calls somewhat resemble the sound of a coin spinning on a table.

Listen to the 'spinning coin' trill of the Wood Warbler here:

The Stockie Muir Black Grouse lek was deserted, the short grass strewn with their black feathers. I took back a lyre-shaped tail feather to add to my collection.


  1. I'm new to your blog, and I really enjoyed rambling around with you! I love Scotland, one of my favorite places on earth, especially the Orkney Islands and West Coast.

    I'm sure to return, its nice wandering around with you.

  2. Great stuff. I just heard about the black grouse lek - any idea what the best time of year to see them is? That's quite a walk by the way. Is there a bus from Carbeth back to glasgow?