Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)

Thu 9 Jul 2009 Beinn Donnachain, NW of Dalmally

Lochan Uaine, Beinn Donnachain

Lochan Uaine, 610 m high, a place of peace.  The far end tips out into a burn that feeds the River Strae and ends up in Loch Awe, eventually joining the sea right outside my window back home.
 

Galium boreale

Northern Bedstraw, the mountain form with downy stems, on the crags overlooking the lochan.  The plants in front of it in the photo appear to be Bilberry and Alpine Lady's Mantle.
 

Callitriche brutia   Lymnaea peregra

Intermediate Water-starwort and the Wandering Snail were found in the lochan.  Also Shoreweed, Nordic Bladderwort, Alternate Water-Milfoil, Awlwort, Long-stalked Pondweed and a frog.
 

Erebia epiphron   Triturus helveticus   Triturus helveticus

The mountains may look bleak but there is much colourful life up there.  Mountain Ringlets enjoyed the sunny moments while the Golden Plover sang of eternity.  Palmate Newts are well disguised when right way up in the peaty pools, but the one I watched one for several minutes, writhing about with a big cranefly in its mouth, flashed its orange belly with each convulsion.  Not sure what the problem was, the cranefly must have been long dead, and I don't see how thrashing about like that would help you swallow it.  But then I'm not a newt.
 

Somatochlora metallica

Dragonflies too bring sparkle to the sombre bog pools.  Incidentally this is why I prefer to go into the mountains on my own.  With other people you have to organise the date in advance, and it invariably rains all day long when the day comes.  Not that I'm wimpish about getting wet, but you only see a fraction of what you'd see on a sunny day.  The sun brings a whole new dimension to a day on the tops; all the jewels are on display instead of hidden under the heather.  On your own you can look at the forecast each morning and pick your day.  This was a previously unknown location for the Mountain Ringlet, and I'd never have discovered its presence if the day had been dull.  It was also an unknown location for the Brilliant Emerald dragonfly and the highest altitude ever recorded for it.  Thanks to Pat Batty for the ID and information.  The photo shows a pair in cop.  Four-spotted Chasers were also whizzing to and fro across the sludgey peat basins.  Up here somehow you remember that brightness and beauty mean life, not packaging.
 

Loiseleuria procumbens   Tofieldia pusilla   Juncus triglumis

Though only 650 m high, Beinn Donnachain rewards the seeker of alpine plants.  Here are Trailing Azalea (in fruit; the flowers are over already), Scottish Asphodel and Three-flowered Rush.
 

Salix arbuscula   Persicaria vivipara

Mountain Willow and the high-altitude form of Alpine Bistort with all the flowers replaced by bulbils.  Other alpines noted were False Sedge, Stiff Sedge, Dwarf Willow, Alpine Meadow-rue and Starry Saxifrage.  The best concentration of alpines was in a north-facing flush at 592 m, which they shared with Globe Flower, Meadowsweet, Water Avens, Dog Violet, Dandelion, Flea Sedge and Tawny Sedge.
 

An Sgriodan from Beinn Donnachain

If only there were time to go on and do the next one...  but each mountain deserves a day of undivided devotion.

 

       
                 

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer