December afterthoughts

Published: 2nd January 2010

One late, long December evening we went down from Glenloy to a concert in Strontian. Weather being reasonably amenable, one of the attractions of the trip was to see what might be about on the roads on the return drive, late at night. I have a long-cherished ambition to see a wildcat in this part of the world, and the Ardnamurchan peninsula is one of the few spots where one might be in wiht a decent chance. The ride back takes about an hour and a quarter along partly single track roads, and possibilities abound around every corner. In particular, deer are a real danger, as they can make a sudden dash across the road, especially if dazzled by headlights, and indeed we did see several, though thankfully not right in front of us.
There was little in the way of carnivores until we gained Loch Eil side There in a field adjacent to the road a pair of green eyes glinted, and as I slowed to take a better look I saw the unmistakeable form of a tortoise-coloured cat. Typically, at that moment another car came up behind me and I had to continue along the single track road.before Angela had chance to see what I was looking at. Granted  the cat was close to a farm, but the countryside roundabouts is wild. It will have to be put down as no more than a possibility – but the next time we across that way we will certainly be taking a closer look.

On a similar note, I attended a recent talk by Sylvia Arnold at the Lochaber Natural History Society, The topic – wild flowers of Scotland – was very broad, but a lot of the content dealt with local areas and species, with quite a bit of focus on the Loch Morar area. Orchids and alpines were amongst the featured species, and one in particular, the rare and inconspicuous bog orchid has been found by Sylvia above Loch Morar. The talk gave plenty of food for thought, not just to try and find some of the intertesting species that were mentioned, but also that there is probably lots out there in our under-recorded corner of Britain that has yet to be found.  I look forward to excploring further in 2010.