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Cape Wrath

The Most North Westerly Extreme in Mainland Scotland

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Wildlife

A variety of Arctic and Alpine plants can be found on the Cape growing at sea level.
This combination is unique to this area and for this reason, much of the Cape Wrath area is designated as a SSSI (Special Site of Scientific Interest.)

A major interest in this district is in arctic and alpine plant species. Plants such as Moss Campion, Mountain Avens and Purple Saxifrage which usually occur on high hills, are found here almost down to sea level because of the suitable bedrock and severity of the weather.

Moss Campion

Mountain Avens

Purple Saxifrage

Moss Campion

Mountain Avens

Purple Saxifrage

The coastline also supports other rare northern species such as the Oyster plant. The tops of some sea cliffs have developed a coastal heath dotted with Spring Squill and the Scottish Primrose - a plant found only here and in Orkney. The widespread blanket peat influences much of the plant life inland. Bog Asphodel and Bogbean are two of the more colourful species, while the Sundews and Butterwort which trap insects to boost the poor supply of nutrients are of particular interest. Where the less acidic influence from Old Red Sandstone rock affects the groundwater, marshy ground supporting Ragged-Robin, Marsh Marigold and Meadowsweet is found. Birchwoods and heaths with Heather, Blaeberry and Chickweed Wintergreen are widespread in the hills and glens. The lesser Twayblade and Orchid are also to be found.

Bird life on Cape Wrath

The area is outstanding for birdlife during all seasons of the year. The area is particularity important for large populations of migratory species that visit either during the breeding season or to over winter. From April until July the expanses of open peatlands are home to Greenshank, Golden Plover, Dunlin and many other species of wading bird, that raise their broods on the teeming insect life of the blanket bogs. The complex network of dark shallow pools contain some of the most spectacular colonies of seabirds in Britain, with huge numbers of Guillemot and Kittiwake crowding the cliff ledges. At the end of the breeding season the intertidal flats in sheltered lochs and bays and offshore waters become the focus of attention, when many thousands of migratory wildfowl and waders arrive for food and shelter over the winter months. Particularly impressive are the late autumn gatherings.

Many resident Highland species can be seen, such as;

  • Golden Eagle
  • Ptarmigan
  • Crossbill
  • Crested Tit
  • Fulmars: Breed on the cliffs at Cape Wrath during the summer months. Call: a series of throaty, guttural cackling noises, varying in speed.
  • Kittiwakes: Breed on the cliffs at Cape Wrath during the summer months. Call: quick, nasal "kitti-waake."
  • Shags: Breed on the cliffs at Cape Wrath. Call: various cackling or grunting calls when near colony.
  • Puffins: Breed on the Clo Mhor cliffs at Cape Wrath between May and mid August. Call: deep, grunting "ar-r-uh" mostly uttered from burrow.
  • Red Throated Divers: Can be seen on various lochs around Cape Wrath. Call: drawn out wailing sometimes resembles barking of a fox.
  • Black Throated Divers: Can be seen on various lochs around Cape Wrath. Call: hard, croaking cknarr~knorr~ and drawn out gull like wailing.
  • Greenshank

Red deer are numerous and widespread throughout the moors.

e-mail james.mather5038@btinternet.com

Tel: 01971 511284

Mobile: 07742 670196

 

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