Highlights w/c 11th July

Published: 21st July 2009

It's now high summer here in Lochaber. The bracken is tall, the trees no longer in first flush, but the heathers are starting to bloom and the harebells are fresh and crisp. Birds are now much quieter, and there are plenty of youngsters about to make identification that bit more interesting! Despite the relative quiet, and the increasing abundance of tourists, we managed to have some great sightings last week.

Undoubted highlight was a Minke Whale seen from the Shearwater close by Eigg. The whale played with the boat for 10-15 minutes, surfacing at one side and then at the other, also coming right alongside, and giving even the smallest visitors a a thrilling sight of its head and back. On the way across the sea was mill-pond calm, enabling us to see loads of porpoises, some very clearly. The shearwaters were out in force and the odd gannet, auk and a single Bonxie added to the general interest.

It was also a good week for golden eagles with an adult close to Ardgour and a juvenile a little further on towards Strontian We also had glimpses on Eigg and from the boat cruising Loch Shiel. Ospreys also provided some good watching with both adults seen on the local nest feeding growing chicks. At home had a bright red male crossbill singing from the top of conifers around Glenloy Lodge, with a couple more sightings during the week – there promises to be a bumper crop of cones, particularly on our noble firs, and hopefully this will attract more crossbills as they ripen in the autumn.

Our resident pine marten appears to have weaned its kits, but was often seen with the more timid female still sticking close. Latterly single youngsters, presumably the males, have bee looking for food, although they still haven't got the hang of the window ledge – so mum has her own food supply for a while yet!

The Grey Seals were performing well in Mallaig harbour, rising out of the water looking for fish scraps, and diving for discards. The sea itself was infested with jellyfish. Whilst Moon Jellyfish were the commonest species, there were also a couple of large, and rather menacing-looking Lion's-mane Jellyfish. These had pulsating bells and seemingly directional travel – appearing to keep a mutually respectable distance from the seals.

During the next few weeks we will hunker down and deal with visitors to the Lodge, but if any families are interested in a wildlife holiday we would be keen to run a specific week for them next year during the summer holidays. We look forward to our next wildlife trips in September.