Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Mountains, Moths and other Beasties

We (Finlay, Freya, Johanne and I) just got back from a few days on the mainland staying one night at Braefield, on the road to Cannich and two nights in Drumnadrochit. It was another of our short holiday come shopping trips to Inverness; we were beginning to look a bit thread bare and the kids' feet needed measuring again. We also managed a day in Glen Affric as well as notching up a couple of mountains for my pittyful Munro list.

Thursday 9th: The early ferry from Lochmaddy to Uig, Skye was quite productive with 3 sightings of Common Dolphins (at least 10 in the closest group); a Minke Whale just off Skye and around 8 Storm Petrels amongst other seabirds. The rest of the day was taken up by a nice drive through Skye and Glen Shiel before an afternoon shopping in Inverness - what fun! Well actually it turned out to the best shopping trip I've ever had as Tizos in the centre of town was having a closing down sale which was unfortunate for the staff but fantastic for us with everything reduced by 50%.

Friday 10th: First stop was emptying my moth trap (a small Heath trap) that I set in a area of birch and coniferous plantation near to Braefield. The day had been nice and hot but the early morning was cool with low-lying mist and temperatures down to 5 degrees but there was still plenty in the trap including numerous Mottled Beauties, Barred Red and a single Welsh Wave amongst others.

Barred Red

Welsh Wave

Returning to the hostel were we knocked together a breakfast, re-packed the car and rounded up the kids before spending the rest of the day in Glen Affric. Johanne kindly volunteered to look after sprogs no. 1 and 2 whilst I headed to the hills. It was hot, I was hung-over and I soon had a sweat on. The aim was to climb two peaks, Toll Creagach followed by Tom a'Chonich in roughly a circular route. What I hadn't done is consulted the book properly and made my own route up the first peak, Toll Creagach which although not much more than a large, rounded lump was actually very interesting wildlife wise. The stoney southerly slopes had lots of berry plants including Cloud Berry and Cow Berry whilst on the upper reaches I came across a few diminutuve examples of Common Cow-wheat growing on very exposed ground just to the south of the summit. The summit itself afforded superb views in the t-shirt weather and as I headed over to the next mountain I flushed two adult Dotterel from the western slope close to the top.

Common Cow-wheat

Toll Creagach
The haul up to the next peak was even more enjoyable, clambering up the rocky ridge. The views from the summit of Tom a'Chonich were superb and the fine ridge running away towards Carn Eighe very tempting although perhaps another 3 hours in the mountains and 3 hours late for my lift might not have been appreciated so I headed down the south-east ridge and had great views of a family party of Ptarmigan.

Mam Sodhail from Tom a'Chonich


The valley bottom was alive with insects with hordes of Scotch Argus butterflies as well as Dark Green Fritillaries and Large Heath. Dragonflies hawked along the path and both Golden-ringed Dragonfly and Common Hawker posed for photos on the way back to our meeting point.
Tom a'Chonich

Common Hawker (female)

Golden-ringed Dragonfly
As I got back to the road a Tree Pipit flew up from the Bracken into the nearby trees and I passed away the next few minutes awaiting Johanne's return by enjoying the spectacle of two guys trying to extricate their landrover from where they'd got it stuck close to the loch edge.
Finally a quick jaunt to a small loch near Dog Falls produced a couple of cracking Emerald Damselflies and Black Darters.

Black Darter

Emerald Damselfly
Saturday 11th: Another day enjoying the pleasures of Inverness with more clothes shopping and a spell in the local park and on the minature railway. We rounded off the day with a trip around the Nessy Exhibition in Drumnadrochit which I was not looking forward to but turned out to be excellent and even kept the kids quiet for a few minutes.

Sunday 12th: The moth trap (set in the woodland by Loch Ness at Drumnadrochit) had a few goodies in it this morning - well at least a couple of beasties that I'd not seen before including Plain Clay and Square-spotted Clay amongst others.

Riband Wave

Small Rivulet

Plain Clay

Twin-spot Carpet

Square-spotted Clay

The car was re-packed, well more like everything was thrown in and breakfast consumed so we could get to Glen Shiel in plenty of time for my final ascent along Am Bathach to Ciste Dhubh. It was a bit cloudier today which was great as hiking up the steep ridge in the baking heat wouldn't have been much fun. Still the cloud was high enough to allow some excellent views and I was quietly patting myself on the back for reaching the summit of Ciste Dhubh in just over 2 hours when a couple of young(ish) girls turned up; one of which had just done the Cuillin Ridge over two days and only had 6 Munros left to complete the set. Ah well, I only have another 226 to go!

Ciste Dhubh

Looking down from summit of Ciste Dhubh (one of them in red has only 6 Munros to do)

Looking west from Ciste Dhubh
The ferry home, Uig - Lochmaddy produced another (possibly the same) Minke Whale just off Skye and a couple of Storm Petrels rounding off a very nice few days and some great bargains in the outdoor shop.

No comments:

Post a Comment