Thursday, 17 June 2010

Kilpatrick Hills, East/West Dunbartonshire

Camping Trip!
Last year I got a bat detector for my christmas, but so far I haven't had many opportunities to use it. It enabled me to listen to Common Pipistrelles in the backgarden: these bats make a series of clicks which turn into 'wet slaps' at lower frequencies (the deepest slaps are at 45khz- the peak frequency).

I set off on a short camping trip, up to Burncrooks Reservoir, to do a bit of exploring with my bat detector, thinking that maybe I'd get a chance to hear Daubenton's or Natterer's Bats.

Duncolm to the left, looking towards the distant mountains surrounding Loch Lomond 
Kilpatrick Hills
Dumgoyne in the distance
Hare's Tail Cottongrass (Eriophorum vaginatum)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) juvenile

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)
Rowan tree (Sorbus aucuparia)
Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilus)
Small Heath butterfly (Coenonympha pamphilus)

Someone else had pitched their tent beside Burncrooks dam, so I had to find another spot - along the treeline of Burncrooks valley (near the old sheep shelter). Midges were biting me viciously, even as I was putting my tent up, and it wasn't even dusk yet. Exhausted, I crept into my sleeping bag and slept for a few hours, until the last red glow had vanished from the sky.

Strange animal noises filled the night. First, the qwavering 'HOooo HOoo' of a male Tawny Owl. Later, when I emerged from my tent, the terrifying (even when you know what it is!) 'old-man-coughing-turning-into-a-dog's-bark' of a male Roe Deer - very close. As I approached the sound, a pair of disembodied glowing eyes reflected the light from my head-torch.

I switched on the bat detector and made a short circuit, following the edge of the forest. I briefly managed to pick up the call of a pipistrelle - I kept having to seek refuge in my tent from the swarm of face-eating midges.

Midges were biting my eyes, my hands, my scalp...the air was so thick with them, I was breathing them in...It was unbearable :(

I was pretty glad my tent had a built-in mosquito net!

Twice during the night, a mystery animal passed close to my tent, purring loudly and deeply. I still have absolutely no idea what it could have been. A feral cat? It seems unlikely, given the remote location.


  1. Hi Theresa,
    Sorry but your story did make me laugh - in a hysterical kind of way. It reminded me why I gave up camping in Scotland!
    Just a suggestion but you might get more success with Daubenton's bats (and perhaps less midge grief) on your nearest slow running river at lower levels.
    Good luck with the bat hunting.

  2. Beautiful country!! I was watching Braveheart last night and thought it would be great to go see Scotland in person. Hiking and camping sounds like the way to go.