After overnight autumn snow, I was the first person to walk along Beinn Dorain's white blanketed summit ridge, However my route was marked out before me by fresh fox tracks, excepting at the stretches where they lay remarkably close to the drops where I preferred to keep to the crest. I've not often seen foxes in the Scottish mountains, but the signs of their presence can often be found on the ridges.
|Berry Laden Rowan|
|Regurgitated Rowan Berries|
|Fox Scat With Rowan Berries|
Much higher up at an elevation of 3400ft, and along another narrow ridge, I also spotted fox scat complete with undigested red berries. As is often the case, it had been left prominently on top of a cushion of moss for all to notice. In other places they are frequently to be found on the tops of cairns and rocks. The mountain fox's diet changes with the seasons, with food provided by ground nesting birds in the spring and berries in the autumn. Unlike their lowland cousins who frustrate the farmers, the upland fox has to hunt a much larger territory of up to 15 square miles. Marking and claiming their area is obviously important and a mountain ridge is an obvious demarkation.
I felt myself thinking about the journey of the rowan seed, how nature ensures that it shouts out the berry's ripeness with a flare of signal red. How, it is transported in the overloaded crop of a greedy bird to once again find the light of day on the top of a rock ~ where the following day, the autumn rain will wash it down into some sheltered crevice from where someday it will germinate and a new rowan grows in it's characteristic way. Or of the fox, that unwittingly deposits another seed on a mountain top, and from there, the strong winter winds may disperse the seed to the other side of the mountain where another colony of ash may well be born. It's a remarkable story.