Saturday, 3 January 2009

Happy Hogmanay!

2008 ended very quietly with cold frosty weather and clear skies for several days. Amid the festivities I was able to get out and enjoy a bit of quiet time in the hills. This was a good opportunity to squeeze in a (late) early winter visit to my BTO Bird Atlas tetrads. The plan is to survey these little chunks of Arran four times a year, recording the birds that I see in each region of four square kilmetres. Many others are doing the same across the island, and the data will be collated into a nationwide atlas of bird records gathered over a 4 year period by the British Trust for Ornithology.
Although the weather was fabulous, and the bog for once so well frozen it was (relatively) easy going across the tussocky moorland, I saw very little in the way of wildlife. This is the quiet time of year for upland creatures, with many dispersing to other more fruitful areas to return in the spring, or simply descending to the valleys and coastal farmland. I was surprised at how little I saw, but have never claimed to be a great birder, so perhaps it was my surveying technique, or even sods law, that whatever you are surveying disappears from view as soon as you begin your measurements. There were a few small birds to be seen however, including a couple of very seasonal robins, who looked out of place amongst the heather and a smart little male stonechat. I was also treated to a magnificent close up view of a red deer hind that I startled in the cover of deep red dry bracken. If you would like more information about the BTO and Bird Atlas, please visit their website: If you are generally interested in Arran birds, the following website will be very informative as it is maintained by the local bird recorder:
As for my Hogmanay, it was a little more wild.... with plenty of laughing and dancing. I enjoyed the local dance at Lamlash Village Hall on the 27th, and something quite a bit more expensive at the Auchrannie Hotel on the 31st. Happy New Year and may 2009 bring you happiness and lots of great days out on the hills!

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