Site of the Month: Knockdolian (June 2022)

When we embarked on this series of site accounts, we promised to concentrate on sites that were under-recorded. Knockdolian, a hill in South Ayrshire, certainly fits the bill – of the 19 million records currently posted on iRecord, not a single one currently relates to Knockdolian!

Knockdolian lies between Colmonell and Ballantrae, and due to its conical shape has been described as ‘Ailsa Craig’s twin’. There are fine views of Ailsa from its 869 feet (265m) summit, or views up the Stinchar valley in the opposite direction. There is limited roadside car parking and a signed footpath route, but it is a steep climb to the top, so why not take your time and record wildlife?

Woodland on the lower slopes gives way to Bracken Pteridium aquilinum and Gorse Ulex europaeus above, then unimproved grassland dotted with Thyme Thymus vulgaris covered anthills, and Heather Calluna vulgaris on the upper slopes. At all levels, there are frequent outcrops of serpentinite and other ultrabasic rocks, one of the reasons it is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Species include Fairy Flax Linum catharticum, Common Spotted Orchid Dactylorhiza fuchsia and Common Rockrose Helianthemum nummularium. The latter is the foodplant of the Northern Brown Argus Aricia artaxerxes which despite its name is actually in the Lycaenidae butterfly family with the blues. It was last recorded here in 2009. Is it still present?

Peter Norman

SWSEIC Project Officer

Website by Red Paint

SUP is registered in Scotland as a company limited by guarantee with charitable status. Registered address: The Southern Uplands Partnership, Studio 2, Lindean Mill, Galashiels, TD1 3PE. Company No. SC200827 / Charity No. SCO29475

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