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"World tour of Scotland" at www.nigelandkathyinscotland.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Red Deer on the First Day of Autumn

There aren’t many human visitors on site now, but it’s all happening with the red deer. It’s 8pm and almost dark. In the last light you can see two deer on the skyline. Sitting in the caravan with the lights off makes a brilliant wildlife observation hide. A massive, magnificent, dark-coloured stag with many points on his antlers has come down from the hill on to the site to exert his authority over the hinds. There is something primeval about him, as though the forest has come to life. He has scared away the young males and is pursuing a small herd of hinds with this year’s calves right past the caravan window. The calves are watching him curiously but warily. He lifts his head and roars a groaning, grunting, mooing roar, no doubt directed at the stags over the burn.

These deer are not tame, although the hinds and calves are very people-tolerant. We do not feed them. I guess they’re around so much because this was their home, before ever there was a campsite- and the golf course has juicy green grass as well!

We regularly see unusual and amusing insights into red deer life. The other day I saw two stags sitting down, absolutely motionless, being pecked all over by jackdaws. The deer clearly didn’t want to move as they were enjoying it so much. The birds were probably de-ticking them.

Monday, 6 September 2010


This has been a week of special moments. Walking along the coast back from Laggan to Lochranza on Tuesday, I found the prehistoric giant millipede tracks there, in a rocky cleft by the sea, at last, after much looking! 320 million years old and clearly visible!

Another ancient discovery followed on when Nigel and I went to a meeting of the Arran Natural History Society. This involved an interesting talk by a ranger whose job it is to identify ancient trees in Ayrshire. He told us that he records trees whose girth is greater than three metres. We measured the campsite’s huge sycamore as soon as we returned. It is over five metres, making it a tree that must have witnessed many human generations coming and going at Lochranza.

I have also had some sudden unexpected glimpses of Arran’s beautiful wildlife. First of all, yesterday morning, a camper drew my attention to one of the eagles soaring above the campsite, its wings catching the golden rays of the rising sun. Then today, walking in Glen Catacol, first a black adder wriggled across the path ahead, then an adder a little further on.

The stags are moving closer to the campsite now. The rut approaches. Last night a heavy mature stag was standing underneath the Stags Pavilion sign board. Wonder if he was aware that Teddy was serving venison on the other side of the glass?

Finally, I have seen the Sleeping Warrior properly: visor, chin, chest and all. Here’s a photo at sunset from the top of the Boguillie Road. Can you see him too?