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A last minute walk with some friendly visitors.

A last minute walk with some friendly visitors.


Postby Bean » Fri Jul 10, 2015 8:17 pm

Route description: A' Mharconaich and Geal Charn, Drumochter

Munros included on this walk: A' Mharconaich, Geal-charn (Drumochter)

Date walked: 20/06/2015

Time taken: 3.45 hours

Distance: 12 km

Ascent: 725m

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It was the last day of our week long 'summer holiday' up in the Cairngorms, and we woke to rain, a wet tent and lots of happy midges. We had breakfast in the car whilst watching the whole campsite clear out, and decided our plan to hire bikes and cycle through the pine forrest's was a seriously bad one.
Before long we were disappointedly on the the A9 back to Glasgow when..........................the rain stopped!
Out came the Munro book and we spotted these, they didn't sound like much and we had no map, but it was a short day and we were happy to get some fresh air and tick off another two. For a non descript walk we got much more than we bargained for!

IMG_0819.JPG
Nice view of the two munros


From the Balsporran cottages we headed out on the dirt road, this branched and we took the right fork (wrong one!) so had to cut back across the heather to rejoin the main drag. Half way up we nearly put our foot in a nest of grouse chicks, they froze for a second then scatter bombed in all directions. We gave them a chance to get away then plodded on.

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Nice views back towards the road


Further up the hill the views opened up.

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Looking over the the ridge of the second munro


We were up on the first summit in no time.

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Nice views


IMG_0826.JPG
First munro summit


The weather appeared stable so we decided to carry on to the second Munro.

IMG_0831.JPG
Good views


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Good views


From the summit it was a nice easy walk down into the coll.
Suddenly in front of us we saw a pair of lovely and unusual birds, luckily we had the camera to hand. We had never seen this bird before but later found out it was a Dotterel, a migrant summer visitor found usually above 1000 metres in certain areas of Scotland. The females are much brighter than the males.

Dotterel female, 21Jun15, Geal chor.JPG
A female Dotterel


Over on the edge of the coll we thought we saw the male Dotterel and managed to snap him too, only to get home and realize that this was a golden plover. Another bird I had never seen but which had become something of a mythical creature to me. My parents always talk about the time when a flock of golden plovers landed in the field next to our house when I was young. Apparently I saw them but I do not remember, I always imagined them to be like something out of ancient Egypt.

Golden Plover, 21Jun15, Geal chor.JPG
Golden plover on the edge of the coll


We could not believe our luck when two ptarmigans appeared, perfectly camouflagued for this place. After many a distant encounter with Ptarmigans we were happy to see them so close before they lost their nerve and flew off.

Ptarmigan, 21Jun15, Geal chor (2).JPG
A well disguised Ptarmigan among the boulders


Ptarmigan, 21Jun15, Geal chor.JPG
A pair of Ptarmigans in flight


View back to the path leading off the col.

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Following the path leading over the col


As sun came out we stopped for some lunch and were soon joined by a little pipit.

Meadow Pipit, 21Jun15, Geal chor.JPG
A Meadow pipit, we think


The path then gently climbed up onto the shoulder of the hill to join the plateau ridge leading up to A' Mharconaich.

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Walking up to the summit plateau


It was a lovely walk along the plateau where we saw another pair of Dotterel despite the weather closing in a bit.

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Walking along the summit plateau


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A bit windy up here


After the summit of A'Mharconaich the path can be seen following the line of the ridge down.

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The way down the ridge


Once further down we joined up with a path through the peat & heather. Scattered in the peat are the remains of old tree stumps, possibly hundreds of years old? It was amazing to think a forest once stood here.

IMG_0849.JPG
Old tree stumps


Further on our path petered out or maybe we just lost it? Either way it was easy to see that we just had to cut across to a small stream beneath the dirt road in order to join up. As we crossed the stream two grey wagtails were dancing over the boulders calling loudly to each other. A lovely sight.

Grey Wagtail, 21Jun15, Geal chor (2).JPG
Grey wagtail


Back down at Balsporran cottage it was a sunny day and the air was full of swallows and house martins.

House Martin, 21Jun15, Geal chor.JPG
A house martin


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Walking back into civilisation, House martin in the foreground


Changing out of our boots in the carpark next to the A9 it seemed amazing that a place so full of life was so close to the main road. What a great last day of the holiday, I thought the company was worth sharing!
Last edited by Bean on Sat Jul 11, 2015 8:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Bean
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 52
Munros:65   Corbetts:7
Grahams:4   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:6   Hewitts:7
Wainwrights:10   
Joined: May 31, 2015

Re: A last minute walk with some friendly visitors.

Postby dav2930 » Fri Jul 10, 2015 11:16 pm

What a lovely report. Excellent photo of the dotterel. I'm quite envious that you saw so many different species of birds in one day! I always hope to see lots of wildlife in the Highlands but rarely see more than the usual ptarmigan, mountain hares and red deer. I'm probably just not observant enough!
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dav2930
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Posts: 1331
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Joined: Feb 13, 2015
Location: Cumbria

Re: A last minute walk with some friendly visitors.

Postby KatTai » Sat Jul 11, 2015 4:13 pm

Some brilliant sightings :D I've seen a lot of golden plover this year (previously had only seen them briefly on Orkney!) so hopefully a good sign that they are doing well! Yet to see a dottrel, will have to get up some more hills!
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KatTai
 
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Re: A last minute walk with some friendly visitors.

Postby ancancha » Sat Jul 11, 2015 4:32 pm

Fabulous wildlife photos, I never seem to get them as clear as that :(
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ancancha
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Re: A last minute walk with some friendly visitors.

Postby Bean » Wed Jul 22, 2015 4:00 pm

Thank you for all the kind comments guys!
We were pretty amazed to see so much up there, it was a very lucky day, as we never usually see much at all, or if we do it is a fleeting glance and we have no idea what it was.
Because the walk was short we took the 300 zoom lens (recently bought second hand off Ebay for taking wildlife pics - the pics are much clearer a standard camera) we are both learning, so it was good timing to see them whilst we had that.
Dotterels I have since read are very tame, and it is true :) hence definitely no skill required to get that one.

That is really interesting about the golden plovers, it was not something I expected would live up a munro! I hope they are doing well and also that we see another soon!
Bean
Mountain Walker
 
Posts: 52
Munros:65   Corbetts:7
Grahams:4   Donalds:1
Sub 2000:6   Hewitts:7
Wainwrights:10   
Joined: May 31, 2015

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