Sunday, 23 May 2010

Kilpatrick Hills, West Dunbartonshire

My dad and I were meant to be going on an organised walk to see the March Stones in the Kilpatrick Hills...
We arrived at the meeting place (Cochno waterworks), but seeing no one there, we thought that perhaps the group had left early. We speed-walked up the road to the Greenside but were unable to find anyone: presuming that the walk had been cancelled (as was the case last year), we decided to head out on a walk of our own.

On the way up to the Greenside Reservoir we saw a Carrion Crow's nest in one of the trees near the Loch Humphrey Burn. Small Heath butterflies flitted about, landing briefly on the gravelly path ahead of us. Approaching the Greenside dam we saw a male Whinchat.
Common Sandpipers are nesting on the banks of the Greenside, not far from the dam.

We walked round the Eastern edge of the Greenside (lots of Mossy Saxifrage flowering) and at the point where the river feeds in from the Cochno/Jaw, we stopped to watch a male Reed Bunting collecting reeds to build his nest. He was very adept at clipping the long reeds (much longer than himself!) and carrying them to a nearby stunted Hawthorn tree.

Metallic-purplish click beetles (Ctenicera cuprea) were abundant:

Click beetle (Ctenicera cuprea) male
Click beetle (Ctenicera cuprea) male
Click beetle (Ctenicera cuprea) male
This common click beetle is associated with upland heath/moor and the long-antennaed males fly on sunny days from May to July (females are more secretive and have shorter antennae).

The scientific name Ctenicera cuprea means 'Comb-horn coppery' (Cten = comb + cera = horn, from Greek; and cuprea = copper, from Latin).

This beetle is very variable in its colouration: it can be yellowish-copper with a darker head, it can be completely metallic-green, or completely metallic-purple (like those photographed above).

At the Dirty Leven river (between Humphrey and Greenside), my dad demonstrated the art of 'guddling' for Trout: we very nearly managed to catch one too!

Lousewort (Pedicularis sylvatica) grows near the Dirty Leven. Marsh Lousewort (Pedicularis palustris) also grows in the Kilpatrick Hills, especially around Burn Crooks reservoir.

Lousewort (Pedicularis sylvatica)

We walked to the Humphrey Reservoir (where we saw the usual Greylag Geese, Mallard and Tufted Ducks) and crossed the reedy field at Boglairoch.

In this field we followed the cricket-trilling of a Grasshopper Warbler which disappeared mysteriously, as they always do, like a will o' the wisp, as soon as we got close, only to re-appear futher away.

I never understand how they manage to change location without appearing to fly the distance in-between!
Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)
Water Avens (Geum rivale)
Water Horsetails (Equisetum fluviatile) at Curling pond
Water Horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile)
Water Horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile)
At the Eastern side of the Mohican Woods we saw a Spotted Flycatcher darting about in the Oak trees. Looking through our binoculars we noticed a nearby treehole with a recently constructed moss cup clearly visible: a Spotted Flycatcher nest!
Woodpecker holes
Tortoiseshell butterfly (Aglais urticae)
Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)
Wild Strawberries produce tiny aromatic fruits that are sweeter and more strongly flavoured than shop bought strawberries. The scientific name means 'Fragrant to-feed' (Fragaria, from fragro = fragrant/scented, and vesca = from vescor, to use as food).

Day-flying Brown Silver-line moths (Petrophora chlorosata) fluttered about the bracken.

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