Sunday, 20 March 2011

Mugdock Country Park & Kilpatrick Hills, East & West Dunbartonshire

I'm not usually a twitcher, but repeated sightings of a Great Grey Shrike at Craigallian Loch over the last few weeks proved too much to resist!

My dad and I caught a train from Dalmuir to Milngavie, walked through Mugdock Country Park to Craigallian Loch and then walked back to Duntocher (via Burncrooks Reservoir, Duncolm and the Greenside).

We saw a pair of Treecreepers as we walked through the soaking wet woodland in Mugdock Country Park. Near Craigallian Loch we saw a male Kestrel hunting and heard a Tawny Owl hooting.

Clouds of mist and rain drifted through the trees and the valley echoed with the drumming of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. On the loch there were groups of Tufted Duck and Goosander.
We wandered along the path, fruitlessly scanning every fencepost and scrubby tree for the shrike. As we waited, a Green Woodpecker landed clumsily atop a nearby pine.

Disappointingly, the shrike never made an appearance.

On the way home, at Edenmill Farm, we saw a large flock of Goldfinches and a ploughed field full of Lapwings - their zipping calls are like radios tuning.

Greenside Reservoir
Above the Greenside looking towards Duncolm

By the side of the burn flowing into the Greenside, I found the inedible Twisted Deciever (Laccaria tortilis) growing on a mossy boulder.

Twisted Deciever (Laccaria tortilis)

Twisted Deciever (Laccaria tortilis)
Twisted Deciever (Laccaria tortilis)
Twisted Deciever (Laccaria tortilis)
Twisted Deciever (Laccaria tortilis)
Twisted Deciever (Laccaria tortilis)
Twisted Deciever (Laccaria tortilis)
Twisted Deciever (Laccaria tortilis)


Saturday, 19 March 2011

Kilpatrick Hills, West Dunbartonshire

Today I walked from Duntocher to the Mohican Woods, over the Slacks and to The Test marsh. It didn't rain but the sky was darkly overcast and snow survives in colder hollows on the hills.

Below the Mohican Woods I disturbed a group of Roe Deer (two hinds and a buck) which were grazing along the forest edge. The two hinds - with flared white rumps - disappeared deep into the undergrowth, but the buck only retreated a little way into the trees.
I lay down on the ground, making myself as unhuman-like as possible. A few seconds later, the buck re-emerged and high-stepped towards me cautiously, until the shutter of my camera startled him back into the forest.

Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) male
Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) male
Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) male

Roe Deer are Britain's smallest native deer, weighing only 10-25kg, and are the only hooved mammals which exhibit delayed implantation: an egg fertilized during the summer doesn't begin development until January.

This male has 3-pronged antlers which means he's at least 3 years old. The furry 'velvet' covering his antlers supplies blood to the antlers as they grow and will be shed within a few weeks.

Mohican Woods
Scottish Blackface Sheep

Snow-melt puddles littered the moorland on the Slacks. The only signs of life were a pair of Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus) which exploded loudly from the heather.

The Test marsh

In the rocky moorland to the north-east of the Test, a Brown Hare leapt up and sprang like a gazelle over the heather.

It left behind a pile of fresh droppings:

Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus) droppings
Bombhole near the Test (OS map ref. NS 476 741)

The Clydebank Blitz (13th & 14th March, 1941) left the Kilpatrick Hills pitted with bombholes and the odd piece of rusty bombshell can still be found lying on the moor.

Psathyrella sp. at Little Round Top Wood
Jackdaws (Corvus monedula)

Pairs of Jackdaws nest on every rooftop on my street, they walk the pavements and roads with a bobbing swagger and fill the air with their pleasant calls - an almost musical "chak!" - which gives them their onomatopoeic name.