The sun came out again yesterday, and this was such an unexpected event that we went off up the hill again in search of wildlife.
A pair of redpolls showed themselves in the young woodland, and their attention seemed to be focused on a low hawthorn bush where they may have a nest. Whitethroats were chattering and paragliding among the mountain ash trees, but they were frustratingly difficult to photograph. We stopped to inspect an interesting beige and buff warbler-like bird: we could see he wasn’t a willow warbler, but what was he? He didn’t divulge any information, but hopped around the low bushes, piping occasionally. We later discovered that he was a sedge warbler.
At the top of the road, Colin suggested that we hop over the fence and walk across into Blawhorn Moss, which is a nature reserve managed by Scottish Natural Heritage. Their website describes it as “an oasis of open windswept moors hidden in the lowlands”, and it is protected largely because of its wide range of bog-loving plants, including mosses and insect-eating sundews.
So we waded and hopped across the tussocks of marsh grass, squelching through carpets of emerald-green moss, while curlews and skylarks added a natural soundtrack.
They don’t call Blawhorn Moss an upland bog for nothing – it is very boggy. Your feet start sinking into mushy wetness when you stop walking, and I was glad I’d decided to wear wellies. The SNH says that “beneath your feet there’s over 8000 years of history, locked into the peat layers of this raised bog.” No wonder our garden is so wet, if this is what it’s like right on top of the hills.
Everywhere there were tufts of harestail grasses, which were just opening out their white candyfloss heads. Colin set about photographing the miniscule details of moss flowers, sedges and sundews. I imagined that sundews would be quite big, but in fact they turned out to be really tiny. They made compact little mats among the sphagnum moss, their deep pinkish-red leaves fringed with sticky tentacles.
We discovered a hare’s ‘form’, a cup-shaped hollow in a hummock of grass, where he must have been sleeping only recently. A couple of seconds later, I caught sight of a hare lolloping away towards the woodland, his long ears upright and alert for danger.
The sun was really quite warm as we made our way back down; any more of this, and we might start getting excited about summer!