Tuesday, 2 June 2015

A weekend in Argyll, bats, wild flowers and grafitti

Last Friday we set off towards Tighnabruaich in Argyll for a working weekend doing bat surveys. Because the survey was in a large collection of buildings, David took eight of his survey team and myself as the other driver. We had two cottages sitting on the side of a loch near the survey site, lots of good food, great company and not bad weather. The three and half hour journey up past Loch Lomond, along the Rest and Be Thankful and then down one of the Argyll peninsulas to Tighnabruich went well despite a few slow vehicles and some heavy rain. The views as always were great, lots of bluebells flowering and the fresh green of new leaves on trees.

View from the cottages

Once we had settled in and unloaded the cars, we took the team to the buildings we are surveying over the weekend. Because the buildings are derelict there are dangers and things they need to be aware of before starting the survey at night as it gets dark. It's a fascinating place full of street art, graffiti and nature taking back what was left. I had the chance to come here last autumn with David and took loads of photos of the place then, so I was really looking forward to coming back.

graffiti

My favourite piece of street art in the buildings

One of  the derelict buildings

graffiti with humour

Nature taking it back

The first survey was a sunset survey on the Friday evening which goes on for two hours after sunset. The weather stayed dry and the midges weren't too bad, I got some sunset photos and the survey went without a hitch. Because the weather was good, it was decided to do the dawn survey on the Saturday morning, so everyone had three hours to sleep or read until 3am, then another two hour survey before crawling to bed at 5am. I ducked out of the dawn survey, needing to catch up on much needed sleep. Everyone then had all of Saturday until dinner to do what they wanted, some slept, chilled on the sofa or walked to the marina. David and I, once we had a late brunch walked to a ruined castle just along the track from the cottages.

Ruined castle in B&W

Blossom on the old apple trees at the castle

Still standing, just

Ferns at the castle

The views over the loch were lovely, including a rainbow, we grabbed a coffee and some cake before heading down to the survey site to check the bat boxes and find some that were put up a few years ago.

Rainbow over the loch

Great reflections

Being sheltered and damp where some of the bat boxes were, there were of course midges, but there were also some great swathes of Bluebells, Stitchwort, Primroses, Ajuga and ferns. I of course went mad with the camera while David and Charlotte checked the boxes.

Bluebells and Stitchwort

A shady valley

From the valley we climbed up the hill looking for more bat boxes which gave us great views over the local marina and over the water to kintyre. Under the trees on the side of the hill there were carpets of Primroses, wild violets, Stitchwort and Bluebells. Lots more photos were taken.

Looking towards the marina and Kintyre

Delicate stitchwort

Mosses
On the way back to the car we found a massive patch of Butterwort and of course once we saw a few we kept spotting them, Butterwort is a native carniverous plant with lovely small violet-like flowers growing in damp peaty ground. I've seen it several times on mountain walks in the past.


Butterwort in flower

Butterwort

David made his famous chilli for dinner, with a mild version and a veggy version too, it went down well and filled us all up for the last sunset survey of the weekend. The weather had turned in the early evening with light rain, a worry for the midgy effect! In the end the rain eased off and the wee terror midges weren't too bad.

We had a great time, it was as much a weekend away as a working weekend, and the survey team were great company and it was nice to spend some time with them all. The drive home on Sunday afternoon went well, good weather and no hold ups, lovely views of my beautiful country and home to tea cooked by middle son.

Looking down to the Isle of Bute on the way home on Sunday

6 comments:

  1. What a beautiful place, and some stunning photos. We camped at Loch Lomond a few years ago and drove through Rest And Be Thankful to Inverary along Loch Fyne. I still have some heathers that I bought in a nursery there and grow in a pot of ericaceous compost! The graffiti is amazing and unexpected, and I love your photo of ferns and bluebells. It sounds like a good time was had by all :)
    Cathy x

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  2. Hi Cathy, it's a beautiful part of the country, but then I'm biased :)

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  3. Hello, pleased to meet you!

    Awesome graffiti in those buildings. Did the surveys turn up anything interesting?

    My son's girlfriend is an ecologist and National Trust ranger and also a Scot in her heart if not by birth, I'm looking forward to sharing this post with her :)

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    1. Hi Annie, we were surveying for bats, there were a few but not as many as expected. Another 2 surveys to do through summer on this site, so there may be more next time. Ecology is an interesting career, I#ve learnt so much from my partner David and it ties in nicely with my gardening career :)

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  4. Beautiful series of photos! :)

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