Sunday, 27 January 2013

Beinn a' Chaorainn Wildlife

On the 23rd of this month Wally and I drove up to Glen Spean and took the thickly forested trail in to Beinn a' Chaorainn.  We hoped to find some grade 1 snow slopes and do a bit of nav practice, and in the avalanche conditions prevailing at the time this seemed a good option.  We quickly discovered however, that the East ridge of Beinn a Chaorainn was all but completely scoured of snow in the lower sections, and then to cap it all the sun came out!

However, the light winds meant that there was plenty of wildlife sign left in the snow, so we enjoyed a bit of tracking, had wowser views of a golden eagle on the ridge, and were able to talk through navigation scenarios and descent routes with realtive comfort.  Its a complex little ridge, with lots of tricky terrain, gullies and lee slopes. We noted a crown wall and avalanche debris at NN386864 in Coire Buidhe.  A good brain workout despite the pleasant conditions.

 The approach is a bit of a bash through the forest but with lovely views of waterfalls and pools on the way. 

 Classic fox tracks in the snow (and human!).  

 Close up of fox tracks. They almost look furry!

 Red deer feeding sign.  Its harder for these animals to find food in the snow as they have to dig for forage. 

 Heading up to the Bealach a' Bharnish.  As we approached the bealach, a golden eagle soared above our heads.

 Looking back towards Glen Spean

A ptarmigan bed- note the two sorts of faecal matter, dry grassy "caterpillars" (normal ptarmigan droppings), and an unpleasant goop called caecum that ptarmigan and grouse typically excrete first thing in the morning apparently!

 Ptarmigan footprints leading to...... Perhaps the golden eagle spooked it?

 Mountain hare prints  (and that pesky human again).
 The sun came out and the wind dropped.

The ridge was well scoured but old cornices persisting in places.

1 comment:

Arran in Focus said...

Great blog Lucy. it would be good if you could follow mine.I'm also going to try to link all Arran folks blogs if I can :o)