Thursday, 24 March 2011

Heldale Water and Little Rackwick in March

western end of Heldale Water

Much of the walk along the northern edge of Heldale Water necessitates ploughing through Eriophorum (Cotton grass) and skipping over pools of Sphagna. Beyond the western end of the loch, there is another substantial tract of Eriophorum before drier heath becomes the order of the day. On the banks that border the Burn of Greenheads, the heather is less exposed and consequently thicker, in among it are healthy spreads of Bearberry.
Bearberry on the banks of the Burn of Greenheads with the Candle of the Sneuk in the background

On the southern slopes of the burn was a very fine Juniper clinging to an overhang

I've long known the Heldale area as one of the best places in Hoy to see Mountain Hares. In previous March visits I've seen as many as 30 animals on the side of Bakingstone Hill basking in the spring sunshine. I was disappointed with yesterday's trip in that only four animals were logged. Surely they would have survived Orkney's harsh wintry spell - they are born to it. Despite the paucity of sightings one of them provided me with a few pretty decent images. This is the best -

Mountain Hare on the slopes of Bakingstone Hill, Hoy

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