HIghlights w/c 27th April 2012

Published: 12th May 2012

The latest tour at Glenloy Wildlife had one undoubted bonus – the sun! We enjoyed beautiful weather here in  Lochaber, whilst rain and floods troubled much of the rest of the country. With weather like this it is hard not to fall in love with the West coast of Scotland. Even Glencoe did not look particularly menacing. The coastal landscape was stunning around Arisaig, Duror, Loch Sunart and Loch Ailort, whilst the freshwater lochs simply sparkled. The first of this season’s butterflies were out in force – Orange Tips and Speckled Woods, along with day-flying moths of the year (mainly Heath Moth).

Strangely enough we had our best sightings of Otters on the poorest evening wather-wise – a pair hunting at Lochy Mouth in a choppy sea, intermittent drizzle and stiffening breeze. We also glimpsed an Otter on Loch Ailort in the sun, but this was rather distant. Deer were everywhere, and still close to the roads – with fresh smow on the hills, this may well continue for a while. Almost all the Red Deer stags have now shed their antlers,. but already their new stumps are starting to grow. Those of the Roe buck we saw near Glen Loy were already well grown, although still covered in velvet.  Both our Pine Martens continue to come daily for feed, mother and son playing a game amongst themselves to see who can time their visit to best advantage. Mum still has the upper hand if the two of them appear together.

Perhaps the birds showing best this week were the divers – Great Northern Divers in breeding plumage were everywhere, often close in to the shore. Similarly the Black-throated Divers are now in full breeding plumage and frequenting their usual haunts. Migrant birds are now starting to arrive in numbers – Wheatear were everywhere, and Cuckoos were also calling most places we visited – I even managed a glimpse of a couple. Strangely although we heard plenty of Blackcap, it was the normally skulking Garden Warblers that we had the best views of. Golden Eagles were distant, allowing fleeting glimpses soaring over jaged peaks in clear blue skies. A lone Sea Eagle stood sentinel over its nest site, its size making it visible at great distance. Had great views of a couple of pairs of Greenshank along Loch Arkaig, flying in a small group, and seemingly still trying to sort out who belonged to who.

We ‘enjoyed’ an exhilarating trip to Eigg. The slight ripple of the sheltered sea lochs gave way to a heavy swell on the open sea. The Shearwaters were in their element, swooping low across the waves, while we even managed to spot small groups of auks, including a lone Puffin on the crest of a wave. A Great Skua was mobbed by gulls on Castle Island opposite Eigg harbour.  Despite the wind, the sun still shone, and our shortened journey enabled us to enjoy the sights of Eigg – the Sgurr being particularly stark against a cloudless sky, along with great views across to the Cuillins of Skye and the wilderness of Knoydart. The woodland flowers were putting on a great display – Bluebells were providing a lovely sheen to the woodland floor, whilst at the same time the first of the Stitchwort and Wild Garlic were providing a brilliant white contrast, with the yellow Celandine and  Primroses still going strong. Further colour was provided by the red of the first of the year’s Herb-Robert and Campion.

Sightings continued along with the sunshine after our guests had departed. We saw a small flock of 5 Whimbrel on the coast near Arisaig, and finally managed to catch sight of the elusive Blackcap in the beautiful Larachmhor Gardens (if you are in the area try and catch their Open day on Sat. 19th May)..