Friday, April 17, 2009

Wildforms Blog - March

March started the same way as February, with snow on the 4th.

Still plenty of snowdrops out along with the snowflakes and daffodils.

On the 14th we headed for The Machars for a walk around White Loch, we saw roedeer, but not much birdlife on the loch, just a couple of swans and shags. On the way back we stopped to take some photos of some Belties.
Galloway "Belties"

The following week on the 21st, the sun was shining, although windy, so we headed down to the South Rhins to Auchie Glen near the Mull of Galloway. We had been meaning to do this walk for some time as we had heard it was a good spot for birding. We werent dissapointed, as soon as we got out of the car we could here the birds singing.
A short distance down the edge of the field towards the glen and we spotted a Yellowhammer, only managed fuzzy photos unfortunately.
Into the glen and the daffodils were all out in bloom. Although they looked lovely, I cannot understand why large cultivated varieties had been planted in the countryside like this, the smaller wild daffodils allowed to naturalise would have been far more fitting. We soon spotted a warbler, a chiffchaff I think, there were also Willow Warblers too. At the end of the glen we followed the footpath towards the coast, crossed the road and down to the shore.
A lamb had excaped the field onto the path and didnt know which way to go, eventually finding its way back to its mum.

The path leads down to a small cove with views of the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse, where we saw gannets but not many other seabirds. The path appears to continue towards the Mull, but time was getting on and it was a fair walk back, so we returned the way we had come. On the journey back home we spotted more yellowhammers on the wires and a deer in the woods.

Back in the Keepers Cottage garden, plenty of new birdlife is arriving.
There are now lots of Goldfinches about.....

...along with Siskins.

A female pheasant now visits the garden daily and the male is often about too, in full breeding plummage with ear tufts.

On 28th it was our monthly walk with the West Galloway SOC . We met at Ardwell picnic site and watched the shoreline for a while as there were plenty of waders, gannets, divers and ducks about.
As there was a brisk chilly wind we set off inland to Ardwell pond for our walk.
A couple of mute swans, several pairs of mallards, moorhens and a cormorant were on the pond.
In the gardens there were plenty of daffodils and skunk cabbage out and we saw warblers, a grey wagtail, treecreeper and great spotted woodpecker amongst others.

We returned to the shore were it was now less windy and spotted many more birds and a seal. A good afternoons birding was had by all.

Birds seen on the shore included: Gadwall, Red-Throated Diver, Red-Breasted Merganser, Gannet, Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Oystercatcher, Shelduck, Redshank, Knot, Pied Wagtail, Cormorant, Shag, Peregrine, Sandwich Tern and all the usual Gulls. There was also a possible Scoter.

Around the ponds and gardens: Long-Tailed Tit, Great-Spotted Woodpecker, Chiffchaff, Grey Wagtail, Treecreeper, Buzzard, Cormorant, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Mallard, Rook, Carrion Crow, Robin, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Heron, Pheasant.

We finished off the month with our first sitings of the year of lizards basking in the sunshine by our dry stone wall in our front garden.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Wildforms Blog - February 2009

Wintery view from Keepers Cottage

We started February with a dusting of snow on the 5th, whilst England was ground to a halt we all wondered what all the fuss was about up here in Scotland.

Wintery View Back Garden

Up the lane from our house

We took a trip up to Ayr on the 7th to try and find a new car. It was bitterly cold but the views of Ailsa from Girvan were good on the way up.
Snow on hills above Girvan

Snow on Arran from Girvan

Ailsa Craig from Girvan

We managed to find the car we were looking for and arranged to collect it the next week.
Near Maybole

There was still snow about so we took the long way back, turning off at Maybole and going over the hills past the windfarm to Barr.
Windfarm nr Barr

At Barr we stopped for a short walk in the snow and found some interesting pigs.

Curly Ginger Pigs at Barr

We needed to finish our second winter walks for the BTO Bird Atlas so on the 21st we headed down to the shore near to Stranraer Golf Course to one of our Tetrads.
Stranraer Golf Course

Nothing very exciting spotted, wigeon, turnstones, curlews and oystercatchers mainly.

Plenty of wildlife now appearing in the garden, the frogs were very active in the pond, with lots of frogspawn laid around the 25th.
Frog & spawn in our garden pond

The snowdrops in full bloom.

Plenty of birdlife around too and feeding well in the cold weather.

On the 28th we did another of our tetrads starting at Galdenoch were there were plenty of lambs about.
Birdlife seen, buzzards, ravens and lots of the usual.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Wildforms Blog-Loch Lomond

Bowling Harbour

Still catching up!..... Mid January and we had another break away. This time 3 nights in Dumbarton Travelodge, chosen for its proximity to Loch Lomond. It was blowing a gale and pouring with rain on the way but we managed a stop on the way at the RSPB Lochwinnoch Reserve. By the time we got to the Erskine Bridge the weather had calmed but it was still grey, we then stopped for a short walk at Bowling Harbour, a great photo shoot had the weather been brighter, before reaching our destination.


The next morning the weather was showery and still with a cold wind. We had bought tickets online, at half price if bought online at thais time of year, for Loch Lomond Sealife Centre, so set off early so we could be there when it opened. We thought we would get a look around the shops etc first but found that nothing opened until 10am, so took a few shots outside of the ducks and a beautiful goosander while we waited.


We had the Sealife Centre to ourselves for a while, which was great. We thoroughly enjoyed watching the otters, they were very entertaining, especially at feeding time.

We spent the rest of the morning there, the view over the loch from the cafe (the coffee was good too!) was beautiful especially with a stunning rainbow to enjoy.


We have previously visited the Sealife Centre in Scarborough but this one was quite different. There were no otters at Scarborough but they had penguins, turtles and seals. I do feel that they missed a golden oportunity with the Loch Lomond centre, to contect with the loch more. It is a stunning location and although there was a section about the life in the loch, I think there could have been an underwater viewing area.

Rainbow Loch Lomond

Lunch was in Jenners cafe, sausage and mash with onion gravy in a Yorkshire pud, their 2 meal deal of the day, both meals for £10 and that included apple pie and cream each.
Sculpture, Loch Lomond

We then explored the visitor centre and when the weather brightened up had a walk outside to view the sculptures.

Dumbarton Castle

Still some afternoon left so we decided to find Dumbarton Castle. Despite the traffic we managed to find it but made the mistake of following the castle trail, which takes you round the area which is either derelict or a building site!

Sunrise, Balmaha
The next morning the forcast was much better so we set off towards the east side of Loch Lomond hoping to catch the sunrise. Our first stop was Balmaha, I would imagine very busy in the summer with tourists, but we found it deserted. We were hoping there would be a boat trip to the Island nature reserve, but no sign at this time of year.

Boat Balmaha

A brief shower and then the skies cleared so we decided to carry on up the road which follows the Eastern shore of the loch. It was very calm and beautiful, the loch being like a millpond and the reflections were brilliant.
Loch Lomond

The cloud lifted over the mountains and we could see the snow topped summits of Ben Lomond.

We reached the end of the road at Rowardennan, where we stopped for our picnic lunch, only a few other cars so it was very peaceful.

A short walk and a bit of exploring and we decided to go back to Balmaha for a longer walk up Conic Hill. We set off through the back of the main carpark, which was still practically empty and the visitor centre closed.

We climbed up through the forest then out onto the open hill where firstly the view to the South opened up an then we reached a ridge where we almost had 360 degree views.

Loch Lomond from Conic Hill

We could see Loch Lomond, Ben Lomond and the peaks around it and to the south the Hills around Dumbarton.

South from Conic Hill
We stood for a while to appreciate the stunning view then made the decision not to carry on to the summit as we would probably then have to return back down in the dark.
Ben Lomond from Conic Hill

After a shower and rest back at the Travelodge we crossed the busy road and sat down to a Carvery at the pub for just £3.50 each.

The Stonefield, Dumbarton

Next morning we set off home bright and early before the forcasted bad weather returned.