Monday, 22 March 2010

Mountain Wildlife

Arran has some of the most beautiful and interesting mountains in Scotland, and although none quite make Munro status (>3,000 feet) they are as dramatic and wild as any that you will find on the mainland. The mountains are home to some special wildlife and a walk in the hills this weekend revealed many of these iconic, rare and/or hardy species.

The higher moors are populated by lots of different kinds of upland birds from the rare hen harrier, to the noisy curlew. On this particular occasion we were lucky glimpse a golden plover- a gorgeous wader that nests on the ground in open moorland. On the mountain tops it is possible to see ravens, peregrine falcons, and even the very special golden eagle.

The mountains of Arran are fashioned from granite, a rough volcanic rock that formed in the magma chamber of a vast volcano about 65 million years ago. The soils are thin and the conditions tough, and many of the plans that survive up here are very specialised. The picture is of a fir clubmoss- a small tough plant- not a true moss, that grows in upland areas. its smaller relative, alpine clubmoss, is only found on the highest tops of Arran and is perfectly adapted to the thin soils and wild weather of the summits.

You are very likely to see red deer if you take a walk in the mountains on Arran. Other mammals include the field vole which is found all the way from sea level to the top of Goatfell. Field voles are a vital source of food for many of the island's predators including kestrels, barn owls and hen harriers. Even if you don't actually spot one, you may notice their tunnels and runs that form in the longer moorland grasses.

To find out more about Arran's Mountain Wildlife why not book a place on the Sundews, Red Deer & Golden Eagles walk on the 14th May? If you are feeling less energetic then don't miss the talk about Arran's Amazing Mountain Wildlife on the 13th May tat the Ranger Centre in Brodick.
The Sundews, Red deer and Golden Eagles walk is generously sponsored by Arranshand Business Development Services.