Archive for the ‘Field Excursions’ Category

Golspie ‘Big Burn’ Gorge

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

The 2013 New Year Walk in the valley of the Lichen, the Moss, and the Fern.

With warm weather to start the yer the spirits were high, the cloud cover was relatively high and mist clung round some of the steep gorge walls.  Of most interest walking up the glen from Sutherland Stone Company, up past the mill pond and the high level car park before descending toward the falls and returning downstream to the cars?  The great gnarled and cracked trees with tape identifiers and index numbers clearly marked out for a bat survey and the array of lichens, moss and ferns.  We will have to discover what that bat survey turns up.

Several cameras were busy; here are some results:

Big Burn by AnnBentalClick image to view

Bats at Spinningdale

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

After a very beautiful day, though very windy, TDFC members went bat hunting with the audio bat detector.  Very strong winds and no apparent midges may have reduced the numbers, nevertheless here is a record of what was found:

Bat records at Spinningdale

Bat records at Spinningdale

Bat excursion Spinningdale

Rockpooling at Shandwick Beach

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Saturday 14th July, 2012 was a change for us – the sun shone.

Fitfully it must be said, but someone did spot a shadow.  And it was not cold, at least not too cold.

So, examining the pools at low tide produced a fine batch of beasties. Followed by a fine barbequed meal in the fresh air.

Continue reading “Rockpooling at Shandwick Beach” »

2012 TDFC Weekend Excursion – Caithness

Monday, May 28th, 2012
The drifts of delicate spring squill on Dunnet Head were a highlight of our walk. Continue reading “2012 TDFC Weekend Excursion — Caithness” »

Dundreggan Field Trip Sept 2011

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Alan Watson who started Trees for Life as a charity in 1989 came to Tain this past week to speak to us about remnant forest landscape in the Highlands and the Trees for Life overall work.

Part of that work involves restoring forest in west-central Highlands to Caledonian status with the concentration on the Dundreggan Estate between Glen Moriston and Glen Affric.  Trees for Life bought this estate in 2004.

Tain & District Field Club were invited to visit with a guided field trip which took place on 17 September 2011. Continue reading “Dundreggan Field Trip Sept 2011” »

Third visit to Morrich More

Monday, July 4th, 2011

We have had two successful visits to the Morrich already this year (2011), but we have another opportunity to visit on Saturday, 9th July, when there will be more chance to look for butterflies and insects.Those who have already had their safety briefing can just turn up at the meeting point below.

For any who have not had the briefing should get in touch with myself or David a.s.a.p. to discuss arrangements.

Also please note that the 9th is a Saturday, and the Range gate (for info at NH 831 826 near deep ditch and pine tree) will be locked and we will need to walk from there – or cycle as we did in May. For those with no bike, even the near part of the Range and the lochans are not too far and very well worth a visit.

The site is very wet at present, so wellies will be useful if going near the lochans. Good walking boots and gaiters were ok last time.

Meeting point will be at 10.30 at the general Fendom entrance (NH 821 814) by the Land and Marine mega shed on the Tain-Portmahomack road. Plenty of parking there for car sharing/bike unloading etc.

This is a fabulous and very large site, and any chance to see it should be taken!

Any queries – just ask!



June 2011 Excursion; Handa and Geopark

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

On 10th June, Friday, until Sunday, 12th June 10 TDFC members enjoyed very fine weather while visiting Handa and performing a short car tour from rock outcrop to viewpoint to woodland to see rocks, plants, insects, birds and geology students. Continue reading “June 2011 Excursion; Handa and Geopark” »

Morrich More – 22 May 2011

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

After a safety briefing two days previously TDFC members cycled onto the Tain Bombing Range to experience the results of 7 – 8,000 years competition between deposition, long-shore movement and erosion of sands and silt. Continue reading “Morrich More — 22 May 2011” »

Loch Fleet Bird Hide

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

A very pleasant day for visiting this new bird hide.  It is accessed from Golspie, down the Littleferry Road, not far after passing the southern end of  the golf course a stylish wooden gate marks the entrance.

A flat walk of under 1km brings you to the hide.

The path to the Loch Fleet bird hideTwo Arrows Continue reading “Loch Fleet Bird Hide” »

Jurassic Foreshore at Helmsdale

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

A day on a Jurassic Beach.

2539_TDFC_group_SFWClick image to view

From south of Helmsdale north to the Ord of Caithness the rocky foreshore is a wave-cut platform of Jurassic (Kimmeridgian) rocks.  TDFC members walked north from Helmsdale looking for fossils, for birds and other wildlife, and looking in detail at the silty or sandy bedding, or the breccias and conglomerates standing above them.

The Helmsdale Fault is present just on-shore showing a steep scarp slope facing the sea,

2569_HFaultPlatform_ed-1SFWClick image to view

and much evidence in the conglomerate or the siltstone (1st picture above) deposited below the fault by eroded and falling detritus (like the ‘fallen sea stack’ below).

FallenStackClick image to viewKimmeridge silts distorted below fallen cobbles of Old Red Sandstone

The Helmsdale fault is associated with the Great Glen Fault , running from near Dingwall, through the Struie Ridge, to this shoreline and out to sea below the Ord of Caithness.

The Kimmeridgian strata sloping up to the rocky wave-cut platform appear curved, as below.

Curving Jurassic conglomerate bedsClick image to view

This is possibly due to strains imposed by being near to the moving fault.  As these beds slope eastwards down below the Moray Firth and the North Sea they become the source rock for 95% of the oil found offshore.  Around the world rocks of this age are now home to many dinosaurs, large and small, marine and terrestrial.

Many examples of Jurassic ‘wood’ were found, some brown lithified rock and some carbon-black appearing objects embedded in sandy siltstones.

Several fine coral assemblages were found, and many examples of crushed bi-valves in a silty matrix.  Here are a fine coral and an ammonite.

A fossil CoralClick image to view AmmonitefossilClick image to view

Thankfully this was a fine, sunny, cool February day for looking at these rocks and birds like a single early Gannet.  And a fine lunch spot.

LunchClick image to view

And, other wildlife was found (Anguis fragilis):-

Slow-worm on groundClick image to view

21st november 2010, Excursion to Alladale Wilderness Reserve

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

We hoped for a sparkling, dry day, Sunday 21st November 2010.  It was dry almost throughout, and the outline of the sun could be seen occasionally.  The outdoor experience was great, of course.

We were privileged to have Innes McNeill to guide, explain and comment on Alladale which is such a beautiful and dramatic estate. He showed us the Elk in their new enclosure and after a short trip by Landrover we saw a few of the Wild Boar. Innes is the Wilderness Reserve Manager at Alladale so he knows every imported animal and also manages the numbers and habitat of the really wild ones.

He explained the regime for keeping the Elk healthy and how the Wild Boar experiment had fared. We were shown tree planting from previous years and Innes explained the new thinking on the future tree planting programme and we were intrigued to see inside the new micro hydro-electric generating station which provides electricity to the estate.

Our thanks go to Innes and to Sadie and Jane who, as darkness fell, hosted our group, serving hot refreshment and home baked treats.

headermontageClick image to view

Glen Affric excursion, October 2010

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

After a run of disappointing days, weatherwise, this was a glorious autumnal day from start to finish, including a long glowing sunset with glowing then gloomy landforms shading into silhouettes.

Fay led us down, or is it up, the long length of the glen past Cannich to Plodda Falls.  Continue reading “Glen Affric excursion, October 2010” »

Portmahomack to Tarbatness

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Field trip Saturday 10th July 2010

Walk from Portmahomack to Tarbatness by the coast.

Hoping to see coastal birds and flowers

Walking over  Old Red Sandstone and seeing fossil trackways.

This is a rough walk lasting 4-5 hours – walking boots recommended.  There is one gully which you need to scramble down about half way along the walk.
Lunch and waterproof clothes needed.
Meet 10:00 am in car park opposite the Portmahomack Post Office NH 915 844

As alway please let me know by e-mail or phone if you are going, in case last minute changes need to be made.
Depending on numbers we will need to leave one or two cars at the Tarbatness end to bring drivers back to the Port.

Butterfly Conservation Field Trip

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

Searching for Mountain Ringlets near Dalwhinnie

Saturday 3rd July 2010

Meet at 11:00am at the car park in Dalwhinnie.

Grid Ref approx. NN638850, OS Sheet 42.

Please Note!  This may be a strenuous walk.

Further information from the leader, Jimmy McKellar, Branch Chairman

Email, Tel 01463 241185

Bettyhill Weekend 2010

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Please use the comment box below to add or comment on the list or add any other comment.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

The meeting-up was at about 09:30 at the north end of the River Naver Bridge below Bettyhill and we walked out at 10:00 in sunshine across the bridge past houses and fields of horses to Invernaver.  Once through the gate there was open field, hill and beach ahead.  We were back at the cars at about 17:00, without the sunshine.  Rain had to make a call and that was at 14:00 or so while we ate lunch, otherwise the day was dry and pleasant.
The route was along and up toward ‘the broch’, then down to the flat gravelly ‘Bettyhill Dunes’ out under the sea-facing slopes toward Skerray and back along the beach.
Black rabbits proliferated, as did their greyer cousins, with many burrows into the layered sands topped  by grassy sward.  Many interesting plants from the list below were seen almost immediately.
The Plaice was a highlight spotted lying motionless by David F.  Nearby were two motionless yellow and black dragon fly and a froglet.  Looking up to the broch a hazy covering of purple flowers seemed to be fairy foxglove – it was.
The hill up to the broch was an easy and interesting route becoming drier, sandier and showing a changing flora.  The hilltops around the broch were interesting, rewarding to walk among, seeing kidney vetch, moonwort, fairy foxgloves, horizontal juniper and other species.After lunch down on the gravelly ‘dunes’ hut circles were examined and a proper sandy dune walk started out toward the sea.  Huge boulders and outcrops were seen and after dropping down a sheer sand face we walked back to the cars.

Sunday, 13th June 2010

On Sunday morning we met at 9:30 in the car park of the Bettyhill Hotel on a rather drizzly morning. When all had arrived went down to the old Farr Parish Church, now the Strathnaver Museum. The museum is closed on a Sunday but we were interested in the bumblebee meadow maintained behind the museum. We were hoping to find the great yellow bumblebee (Bombus distinguendus) but with constant light rain and cloudy skies none were flying. We did see the chimneysweeper moth which didn’t seem to mind the weather. From the meadow we moved down to the graveyard and the Farr stone a fine Celtic decorated of cross-slab.

We drove on to Strathy Point. After a coffee stop, we headed out to the lighthouse over the fine machair-like clifftop vegetation on carpets of sea-pink, spring squill, tormentil and ragged robin. All were extremely environmentally dwarfed being a couple of centimetres high at most producing strange site such as ragged robin flowers growing directly from a grassy sward. On the point we found our first Primula scotica rosettes of powdery leaves but disappointingly with no flowers. We spent some time sea watching: gannets, guillemots, kittiwakes and the ever-present bonxies. Just as we were about to leave the point Chris said she had seen something large in the water off the point. A quick search showed up a basking shark. It seemed to be a large specimen of this the second largest of fish. It cruised back in forth off the point turning bask on itself at least three times. Most of the time we could only see the dorsal fin but occasionally the caudal fin and once or twice a upper jaw.

We move on along the cliff on the west of the point. Part way along David F. spotted a pod of common porpoise then Chris noticed another large shape in the water this time a minke whale. We watched these two cetaceans off and on as we went along the cliffs looking for plants. Russell took us to the area where he and Chris had found Primula scotica last year. Almost at once Heather found a almost open flower and then we started finding flowers right along the edge of the crag.

A happy group returned to the cars where we had a late lunch before setting off home.


Plant list

Common Scurvy-grass
Birdsfoot Trefoil
Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil
Black Medick
Scots Lovage
Buckshorn Plantain
Purging Flax
Carex maritima – old seedheads
Butterwort – flowering
Black Bogrush
Milkwort of various colours
Sea Milkwort
Plantago maritima
Mountain Aven
Silver Weed
Creeping Willow
Fairy Foxglove – Erinus alpinus
Mountain Everlasting
Kidney Vetch
Bog Bean
Moon Wort
Purple Octo???
Purple Mountain Vetch
Milk Vetch??
Primula scotica
Spring Squill
Ragged Robin

Bird List

Ringed Plover
Sky Lark
Hooded Crow
Herring Gull
Great Black Backed Gull

Butterfly List

Small Heath
Chimney Sweeper moth

Dragonfly List

Cordulegaster boltonii – Golden-ringed Dragonfly

Insects List

Great Yellow Bumblebee (Bombus distinguendus)

Mammal List

Minke Whale
Common Porpoise

Fish List

Basking Shark

Frog List