Saturday, 1 July 2017

Rainy Day Walking

This morning's forecast wasn't great but we're not prepared to let a forecast put us off a walk, so we headed for lower land where we would be out of the wind - the Estate fields between Caim and the slopes of Beinn na h-Urchrach.

As well as the weather, the fungi are thoroughly enjoying the land which has had cattle recently, and it is in these fields that....

....there's still a fine display of orchids. This is a perfect heath spotted, but there are also common spotted, fragrant and northern marsh in full bloom. As soon as one moves into fields that have sheep, the orchids disappear, presumably into the sheep's stomachs.

While admiring the orchids we were surprised by a rhythmic, musical throbbing. It took us some moments to identify the source, a medium-sized bird flying high above us.

We soon realised there were two birds, apparently vying with each other. They're snipe, and the noise they make is called drumming, bleating or winnowing. It's not a vocalisation but the sound made by the air as it passes across two tail feathers, clearly visible in this picture, as the snipe swoops downwards.

We've heard them before, on evenings in early summer, but not like this in full daylight. The Raptor wrote a post about a sighting of his - here.

Leaving the Estate fields we headed for the Beinn nan Losgann plantation, aiming to return to the road by following this little burn, the Allt nan Gabhar, the goat's burn.

The edges of the forestry are a good place to see deer, both red and fallow, and we weren't disappointed today - but we concentrated too long on these hinds, not noticing until too late a much larger group, which included several stags, which jumped the fence into the undergrowth.

By this time it was raining, so the cleft cut by this waterfall proved the ideal place to find shelter from wind and rain.

On a slight hillock not far from where we rejoined the road stands a stone circle, either a hut circle or the remains of some sort of burial cairn, some 12 metres in diameter. It was finding this site that first kindled an interest in Ardnamurchan's rich archaeology. It's described on the Heritage Ardnamurchan website here.

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