Back in Business

Published: 24th March 2012

Jon’s Blog now back on line in WordPress. Just in time as things are starting to take off here in Lochaber. The sun has shone for almost 10 consecutive days now, which certainly beats last year’s record. The wildlife is responding accordingly and there are some early phenological events. I saw a Common Carder bee this morning nectaring on garden lungwort. Travelling to and from Fort William the verge of the A830 is covered in Cuckoo Flower in bloom – surely at least two weeks earlier than usual.

Migrant birds are at last starting to appear. On Monday 26th March we saw our first Sand Martins in a sandy bank at Spean Bridge. Not far from there above the River Spean an Osprey was being mobbed by a crow. Tuesday brought a Greenshank up Loch Arkaig, along with a wintering Whooper Swan. On Wednesday 28th we saw the first Wheatear of the season on the coast at Rhu. This turned out to be a very nice trip. The coastal hills were covered with Primroses and we also found the first Wood Anemones of the season in flower. We were able to point out an Otter fishing off the skerries to some visitors, and we found a further Otter in a more secluded bay just round the headland. Both bays contained a large number of Great Northern Divers – we must have seen over 20 in total, mostly just starting to come out of winter plumage. There was also a little group of Merganser displaying, the drakes in fine fettle. The Lapwings were displaying over pasture and make a splendid sight in the early spring. A further small flock of 5 birds was also swooping around and calling much nearer to home at Moy. Sadly the day at Rhu was very hazy so we did not get the views we had hoped for, but this was much compensated for by the wildlife.

A couple of other snippets – plenty of Peacocks out now to complement the slightly earlier Small Tortoiseshells. Bats have also appeared and have been flying around the fir trees behind the Lodge in the middle of the afternoon. I found a dead Water Shrew by the canal the other day, very close to one found a couple of years ago. Obviously there must be a reasonable population of them around the mouth of the Loy – just need to see a live one now. Deer are still venturing close to the roads and down into people’s gardens in the evenings. We watched a hind nibbling daffodils on the lawn outside the Glenfinnan House Hotel the other night, with Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan Monument as a backdrop – very pictureseque. Stags are just starting to shed their antlers.

We finally have the official go-ahead from SNH for the Wild Lochaber festival to be held 2-8th June. More dewtails will be shortly available on the Festival website, but in the meantime see our facebook page for details of the press release www.facebook.com/wildlochaber and ‘like it’ if you can.