June 13th Wildlife Week Highlights

Published: 24th June 2009

Another great week for wildlife watching in the West Highlands. Orchids seem to have been shooting up everywhere – particularly Fragrant Orchid, which were nowhere to be seen last week. The Northern Marsh Orchid seem to to favour the Council road verges, and the splashes of deep purple make for a vivid (if precarious) display. The latter were more showy around Lochaline, however, where we also saw the first Greater Butterfly Orchid of the season, along with Common Spotted – some wonderfuly colourful patches of mixed flowers by the loch shore.Other orchids seen in the week were Lesser Butterfly Orchid (in some profusion in Glen Loy), Small White, a single Early Marsh (which seem to have disappeared as quickly as the Fragrant have been appearing) and masses of Heath Spotted.

It was not the best week for butterflies; cooler with showers, but still managed a late Chequered Skipper at Glasdrum, while the first Dark Green Fritillaries are on the wing, with Common Blue flying in some numbers. Also seeing more Painted Ladies wherever we look – now have records for Staffa, Lunga, Rum and Muck, as well as most mainland locations. Also found another Argent and Sable moth up Glen Loy.

The undoubted highlight for visitors was the family of Pine Martens that are now visiting us. Our regular mother is now bringing her three well-grown kits to feed in front of the house, and everyone got great views of them all scampering about, mum trying to retain a vestige of control. Good to see that all have survived so far and are looking healthy.

A trip out to Eigg and Muck saw us entertained by a pod of Common Dolphin, which cruised in the wake of the boat and surfed in the Shearwater's slipstream. Although seabird numbers were generally low we did get good views of a couple of Bonxies and glimpses of a couple of Storm Petrels.

Had good views of small birds this week, with fabulous sighting of twite, clearly displaying bright pink rumps. Had equally good look at sedge warbler, willow warbler, whinchat, wheatear and stonechat. Also had clear view of immature Great Northjern Diver, still lingering on Loch Linnhe, with porpoises rolling in the background.

An incoming tide scuppered our rock-pooling to a degree, but not before we found dahlia and jewel anemones, together with the expected crabs, sponges and shrimps.