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Walk on the wild side on Arran


The end of lockdown is almost in sight, just as the first green shoots of spring start to emerge.

And with the changing of seasons, a whole new world will come to life on Goatfell on Arran.

To mark UN World Wildlife Day 2021, the National Trust for Scotland has published a series of spotter’s guides for visitors to its nationwide network of properties and wild spaces.

The conservati­on charity protects Scotland’s natural and national treasures, including the rugged mountain landscape of Goatfell.

One guide focusses on Arran’s highest point. At 874m, Goatfell boasts magnificen­t views for all visitors to enjoy and walkers are encouraged to keep an eye open for some of Scotland’s most iconic species as they reach the mountain’s summit.

The guides are published as the charity runs a fundraisin­g appeal in support of its work, which costs millions each year. Supporters are being asked to donate to help nature now and in the future. Find out more at: help-nature.

The golden eagle

At the highest peak on Arran, visitors should look out for the golden eagle, one of Scotland’s big five. The beautiful bird of prey is the king of the skies and can be admired as they hunt for rabbits, hares and grouse. The golden eagle has a huge wing span, with some adults reaching well over two metres. Golden eagles are one of Scotland’s few remaining natural predators.

Ptarmigan mountain bird

The ptarmigan mountain bird is exclusive to the Scottish Highlands and has adapted to the cold climate by having feathery feet and growing a white plumage in winter as camouflage against snow. In the past, ptarmigan regularly bred on Arran, but their range has shrunk and now they are only occasional visitors.

Hen harrier

Walkers can spot the hen harrier, another bird of prey with a strikingly owl-like face, flying low across the heather moorland. The male is an unusual slate grey colour with black wing tips. The female is dull brown in colour with a distinctiv­e white rump. Unlike other areas where hen harriers have been threatened to the point of extinction due to persecutio­n, the Isle of Arran has a significan­t number of breeding pairs. Hen harriers are ground nesting birds so their success on Arran is partly due to fewer ground predators, with no foxes, stoats or weasels present on the island.


Early May and the click, click sound of two stones knocking together alerts walkers to the return of the whinchat to their breeding grounds in Glen Rosa. Whinchats have shown a dramatic decline in numbers in many parts of Britain. The National Trust for Scotland is monitoring their numbers in Glen Rosa and ensuring that their breeding grounds are maintained in a good condition.

The adder

Although many people feel anxious about encounteri­ng an adder whilst out in the countrysid­e, they’re quite timid reptiles. Adders have a distinctiv­e zigzag pattern along their back and will give a loud warning hiss if you get too close as they don’t want to be stepped on.

These reptiles roam around woodland areas, moorland or can even be seen sunbathing on rocks. Goatfell has a strong adder population, including black adders.

 ??  ?? Golden eagle and adders can be found on Goatfell
Golden eagle and adders can be found on Goatfell
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