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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.
Greater Birdsfoot Trefoil
Carex maritima – old seedheads
Butterwort – flowering
Milkwort of various colours
Fairy Foxglove – Erinus alpinus
Purple Mountain Vetch
Great Black Backed Gull
Chimney Sweeper moth