Monday, 2 May 2011

Kilpatrick Hills, West/East Dunbartonshire

Another search for the elusive Adders at Burncrooks Reservoir!

I walked with my parents from Duntocher to the Humphrey Reservoir, past Duncolm and the Lily Loch, to Burncrooks Reservoir and on the way home we crossed the Slacks and Little Round Top instead of following the Humphrey Road.

The Humphrey Road and the Slacks afford some brilliant aerial views of the River Clyde:

The River Clyde from the Slacks
The River Clyde from the Slacks

We cut across the moorland (to the left of the Humphrey Road) where we found a Meadow Pipit's nest in the heather: a neat grass-lined cup holding a set of four tiny, chocolate-mottled eggs.

On the path around Duncolm I saw the first Green Hairstreak butterfly of the day: small, rapidly darting, with wings brown on top and irridescent green underneath.
The drystone wall near the Lily Loch was covered with basking Green Hairstreaks - they fluttered erratically in the sunshine and when they landed they orientated their wings sharply in the direction of the sun.

Green Hairstreak (Callophrys rubi)
Looking towards the Lily Loch from the base of Duncolm - the Green Hairstreak's habitat

Hundreds of huge Horse Leeches (Haemopis sanguisuga) could be seen in the Lily Loch's peaty waters (still bare of vegetation), fattening themselves on a glut of tadpoles.

These large leeches are safe to handle as they're unable to bite through human skin - in Britain, only the rare Medicinal Leech (Hirudo medicinalis) is capable of this (it doesn't stop them from sucking onto you though!).

This plump leech is (rather endearingly) still clutching the reed it grabbed onto as it tried to avoid capture:

Horse Leech (Haemopis sanguisuga)
The Lily Loch with Duncolm behind

The Lily Loch is part of the Dumbarton Muir SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) - it's the only oligotrophic (nutrient poor) loch in Dunbartonshire and is surrounded by an area of raised bog.

Burncrooks Reservoir

As we crossed the grassy hill where the river feeds into Burncrooks, a Sparrowhawk flew up from the ground.

We saw a pair of Greylag Geese (Anser anser) feeding at the edge of Burncrooks Reservoir - these are nervous wild birds and hard to get close to, quickly entering the water the minute they see you. I tried to creep closer through the rushes but the geese began to honk with alarm and were soon swimming out of sight.

Greylag Goose (Anser anser)
Greylag Geese (Anser anser)

We searched amongst the dried golden grasses, dark heather, scree and the russet, wiry tangle of old Bracken fronds...but didn't find any Adders.

On the grassy bank of the smallest Burncrooks Dam, we found a glittering Heath Goldsmith beetle (Carabus nitens).

The river which feeds into the Lily Loch, Duncolm behind
The Slacks
Orange-tip (Anthocharis cardamines) female on foodplant - Cuckoo Flower (Cardamine pratensis)
Wild Pansies (Viola tricolor)
Bracken (Pteridium aquilinum)
Little Round Top Wood

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely superb blog. Thank you so much for it.

    Andy Gillies