Published: 9th December 2014
It seems to have been quite a while since I last brought the Glenloy Wildlife blog up to date. My main excuse is that we have been busy catching up on family post-season, but also finding time to do things like write a newsletter. This is downloadable from our website on
www.glenloy-wildlife.org.uk/gwnewsletter2015b.pdf . One of the things we do each year is to try and think of all the highlights of the year – some of the best wildlife moments we have shared with our guests over the last season. Of course there are other times when we have seen things when we have been on our own – after all we are fortunate enough to live in an area where we have lots of great wildlife on our doorstep all year. A couple of things spring to mind, particularly otter sightings, which are often unpredictable, the best of which was an animal we disturbed on a remote hill lochan. Dotterel and golden plover on our local hill, Beinn Bhan, were also hard to beat, but sadly this is not a route we could take our average guest up. Local sightings in and around Glen Loy are always thrilling, so to see merlin in the forestry (November) and a wild cat at nearby Muirshearlich (probable, but almost impossible to confirm) are special occasions. Our local eagles have also put on various shows that sadly we have been the only ones to witness, while the pine martens have provided hours of entertainment of one form or another that others do not get to see (see the Newsletter for further details). What we can say is that each week that we have guests we always see something memorable; this varies with the season but cannot be foretold!
We made an expedition to Skye in mid November on a glorious sunny day in search of the humpback whale that had been seen every day for almost two weeks in the Sound of Raasay. Sadly we seemed to have picked the day when the whale decided to move on, as I don’t think it was seen that day or since. There are some lovely pictures of it breaching on the internet. However, whilst sitting on the side of a cliff for several hours waiting for the non-appearance of the whale, we watched a pair of bottlenose dolphins, several seals, divers, a golden eagle, a pair of peregrines and a kestrel, all in front of us, to either side or over the hill behind us! On the way home we saw a badger running in a ditch by the side of the road and a barn owl hunting, while the wild goats were disporting themselves in Glen Shiel earlier in the day. Not bad for a day that otherwise would have been chalked up as a disappointment.
We have seen a few barn owls closer to home in the last few weeks, so hopefully they have had a good season. These beautiful birds were hit very hard by the really cold winters we had a couple of seasons ago, so it is good to see them make a comeback. Barns in the area and other old buildings continue to be knocked down or converted, so perhaps it is time to make a push for more owl boxes, particularly on the edges of large patches of forestry clear-fell that are changing the landscape all around us. Tawnies continue to call all around the house.
Other sightings of late include various groups of whooper swans in most of the usual places between Lochaber and Lancashire. We had a great view of a sea eagle over Loch Moidart whilst walking the beautiful Silver Walk, as well as views of seals, divers, dabchicks, courting mergansers and a late trio of greenshank. The pine martens are obviously missing the neighbours who used to feed them as as many as four at a time turn up to be fed just before dusk. They become very excited when I appear with the food, chittering to each other and running around me like furry dervishes in ever-decreasing circles, snatching food as soon as it is set down. They only calm down when I am back in the house and the door is shut. The bird tables too are receiving more attention now, and it is nice to see that some of our summer guests that usually disappear in winter, such as sparrows and collared doves, are still coming to feed. We are also putting up an increasing amount of woodcock, and they too can be flushed from along the drive in winter.