Sunday, 7 June 2015

In the Undergrowth

Yesterday we were complaining about the weather.  Today we were out in bright sunshine walking for miles across the hills.

We started from the Sanna road near Creag an Airgid and headed northwest to Sithean Mor, an elongate ridge which we followed, looking to our left across an open glen towards the dark rock face of Beinn na h-Imeilte, and.... our right towards Achnaha.  The burn running through this picture is the Allt Uamha na Muice, which, further down its course, joins other burns to form the Sanna Burn.  To the left is Meall Sanna, and the lumpy hills to the right are Meall Clach an Daraich and Sgurr nam Gabhar.

The views were spectacular, but there's a whole lot happening at the moment in the undergrowth.  A week ago the orchids were hardly showing, now they're flowering in profusion, though they look stunted, as if the late start has affected their growth.  This is a heath spotted, but we also saw the first fragrant orchid, badly burnt by the wind.

Mrs Dairy's sharp eyes spotted this flash of bright colour in the long grass, a lichen which goes by the apt name of British soldier, Cladonia cristatella. They seem to grow in widely separated places in the undergrowth.  This is their normal colour, but the other day we saw one which was an unusual pink. Sadly the rain was so heavy a picture risked drowning the camera.

In some places where water seeps across the peat, sundews are now appearing.  There are three sundew species in Britain, all of which seem to thrive on Ardnamurchan, two very similar, and of them I think this is the more unusual Drosera intermedia.

Skylarks don't usually hang around on the ground as we approach, but this one was slow to fly.  The reason became apparent: he was followed into the air by four other skylarks, probably members of his young family.

Everything seems behind this year, and the bracken is no exception - in fact, it's probably about a month late in coming up, which is a good thing as, once it's grown, it obscures the archaeology.  This apparent jumble of rocks to the west of Achnaha is the remains of a substantial house, some 10m x 5m, with a walled enclosure, perhaps a vegetable garden, in front of it, surrounded by land which shows the characteristic rig and furrow marking of once-worked arable land.

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