Highlights w/c 11th July

Published: 20th July 2010

Had a great week with Glenloy Wildlife guests, despite unseasonably cool and often wet weather:

Sunday 11th. Orchids still in flower up Gen Loy – Lesser Butterfly Orchid just going over now, but has enjoyed a long flowering period. Conversely, Fragrant Orchids were hard to find and have finished rather early. Family of whinchats providing good views perched on the top of bracken. Watched a pair of Golden Eagle hunting over the ridge further up the glen, using the air currents to full advantage. Must have fairly well-grown young by now. Another Emperor moth caterpillar found posing by an early waxcap fungus (probably Blackening). Found some Red Deer in Glen Roy in the afternoon in between showers. Great views of a small flock of Twite, flitting along a fenceline just in front of the minibus. Large group of over 30 Ravens congregating near viewpoint.

Monday 12th. Day out around Ardgour and Moidart produced usual seals and sea birds. Still some quite small Common Seal pups on the rocks. Big rafts of Eider in eclipse plumage keeping a safe distance out to sea. Large numbers of Arctic Tern at Garbh Eiean hide, fishing suicidally close to the rocks just below the hide. Gannet also feeding unusually far up Loch Linnhe. Had a lovely fresh Dark Green Fritillary in the Ariundle Oakwoods, as well as some rather jaded Small Pearl-bordered. Mixed flock of small birds included some young Spotted Flycatchers, Long-tailed Tits and Treecreepers. Pair of Greenshank at the head of Loch Sumart were an added bonus.

Tuesday 13th. Red letter day courtesy of the Sheerwater. A lucky group were taken round the far side of Eigg towards Rum into calm seas filled with at least 30 Basking Shark, some of them huge. Were able to see them cruise past the boat with mouths agape, filter feeding, the gill rakers plainly visible. On the return from Rum enjoyed equally good sighting of a Minke Whale, along with yet more sharks. All this together with Porpoise, plunging Gannets, rafts of Manx Shearwaters and even little clusters of Puffins – great stuff!

Wednesday 14th. Absence of Blackcock amply made up for by early morning Otter sightings. Saw two distant animals feeding at Lochy Mouth, whilst another swam past us at a leisurely pace. Ospreys at Loch Lochy equally obliging with adult flying from perch via circuitous route down to the nest, where she (?) fed at least two well-grwon chicks. Largest is stretching its wings and flapping on the edge of the nest and should not be long before it flies.

Thursday 15th. Watched three young (ring-tail) Hen Harriers playing around the top of a heather-clad hill, using the up-draughts and periodically landing with talons stretched downwards. Loch Ruthven was productive as ever for both Slavonian and Little Grebe. Quite a few young birds about. Several hundred Tufted Duck congregating on the flock at the opposite end. Falls of Foyer pretty much in full spate and very impressive. On the return journey found a pair of Red-throated Divers on Loch Tarff and a single, but gorgeous, Black-throated Diver on Loch Oich.

Friday 16th. Managed to avoid worst of heavy showers and had a fine walk along Camusdarrach beach, picking up various shells and a complete Heart Urchin. Lone Red-throat taking shelter in the relatively calm waters of the bay. Nice patch of Meadow Cranesbill nearby. A walk to Rhu produced little more than the odd distant Gannet and fleeing Meadow Pipit, but lack of wildlife compensated for by an elemental experience and a beautiful deserted beach, left pristine by the retreating tide. Fresh juicy prawns from Mallaig at dinner rounded off a successful week.