Glenloy Wildlife Update June 2013

Published: 1st July 2013

Whew! Glenloy Wildlife have just finished 5 more or less back to back holidays with little time to pause for breath in between. Coming hard on the heels of the Wild Lochaber Festival, I haven’t had much time for blogging, so apologies for not keeping you all up to date. As so much has happened I thought I would pick up on a few highlights, just to whet your appetites.

First and foremost the pine marten kits have appeared. After weeks of rampaging under our living room floorboards they are finally out and about – the only surprise is that instead of a whole herd of them there are only two – probably a male and a female. The kits are almost the size of their mum now, but still have a cute baby look about them, with short tails, round faces and white bibs. Lucky guests have had the chance to watch them falling off the sun room window sill and into the begonias, or running into their mother in a furry heap as she stops to assess her territory. One couple even had the dubious pleasure of being woken up by two pine martens in the early morning, as they had left their ground floor window open and had a room full of snacks! Two far-roaming mammal spotters from the States certainly got their quota of pine marten pics.

The flowers have been magnificent this year, after a late start everything seemed to come at once, but there have been subtle differences in flora for each group. The bluebells did not really appear until June, but put on a great show, followed by superb displays of hawthorn blossom and gorse. Butterwort has been in bloom everywhere, with its solitary blue heads on a long stalk. The yellow flags have been better than ever and are still flowering. As I write, the orchids are also spectacular, and all seem to be flowering together. In the last week we have seen both lesser and greater butterfly orchids along with thousands of heath spotted orchids, northern marsh orchids and even small white orchid. As the spring flowers disappear the foxgloves are starting to glow. Specialities of the region including sword-leaved helleborine, globeflower and melancholy thistle have all been enjoyed by guests at various points over the last weeks.

W/C 25th May. Pair of hen harriers quartering heather moorland for an extended period. Glenloy golden eagles putting on a partial display – didn’t even have to walk far! Blackcock still lekking reasonably well. Lots of cuckoos about, and excellent close views of twite. Otters obliging.

Butterfly Heaven Break. Chequered skippers newly emerged (late in season) .Great pictures taken of skippers and pale bordered fritillary at Glasdrum. More skippers and huge numbers of green hairstreak along Loch Arkaig, not to mention the Glenloy Skipper (Michael). Bonus of an azure hawker and a pair of courting adders. Weather pretty kind to us.

W/C 8th June. Pine marten kits emerge. Loads of deer about, but our American guests distracted by Highland cattle. Also found them European Hare and Otter. Eagles still flying in Glenloy.  Several ospreys about Loch Lochy and Arkaig. Found a great northern diver off Camusdarrach to complete the trio of divers for the week.  Narrow-bordered bee-hawkmoth flying in Glen Loy, along with argent-and-sable. First common seal pup of the season.

W/C 16th June. Undoubted star was corncrake calling on Muck. Thought it was hidden in a patch of nettles, but wasn’t – caught on video camera, hah! (see Facebook page). Large rafts of shearwaters starting to appear. Local white-tailed eagles obliging. Great views of otter eating a large fish onshore, porpoise fishing right up Loch Sunart. Saw 5 cuckoos in a single afternoon! Slavonian grebes showing up close and stunning. Crossbills starting to appear again and feeding again in Glenloy garden.

W/C 22nd June Nice groups of sika deer about with full spotting and full-grown antlers in velvet. Also had red deer, several  roe deer and even some fallow! Red squirrels performing nicely, with young male being remorselessly bullied at feeders. Following a fishing boat proved productive with pair of bonxies harassing gulls for discards and porpoise eager to feed on either side of the boat. Slow-worms and lizards up our glen. Dark-green fritillary and small pearl-bordered fritillary on the wing, along with common blue. Even better views of sea-eagles. Grasshopper warblers actually visible, as well as calling loudly at Loy Bridge. Young ring ouzel  in Glen Roy. Osprey chicks visible on nest.

Looking forward to the next trip this Saturday!