Kites and things

Published: 31st March 2009

More lovely days in Lochaber. Took the opportunity to investigate the Arkaig glens, setting off via the Allt Chia -Aig and descending a parallel river back to the loch. Sparkling burns full of little drops and falls. Saw just the one dipper, and our first small tortoiseshell of the year on a forest track. Not a great deal about other than the ubiquitous frogs – huge masses of them in the peat hags – purring  and leaping. Also saw yet more lizards, which Angela manged to photograph. Small flock of skylarks had ascended the glen, and these were tentatively beginning to sing. Large herd of stags on our descent on the other side of the river – which had descended  into a small gorge, flanked with old scots pine at this point – very picture-postcard. Quite an easy walk, but wouldn't like to cross the watershed in wet weather!

Had a trip down south and took a detour on the way back to see the kites at Ardgaty, which I have been promising myself for some time. Beautiful sunny afternoon, with blue sky forming the perfect backdrop to these magnificent raptors. Was suitably impressed with the facilities. Nice screened walk to a spacious hide, interesting chat inside and a brand new visitor centre at the car park. The star attractions were performing nicely, with as many as 25 kites swooping down to the feeding station. A lone buzzard was living rather dangerously, trying to pinch its share of the booty. It provided an interesting perspective on the relative size of the kites – these are big birds! Surprised at how long it took for the kite flock to gather and start making serious swoops down for the food – at least it prolonged the spaectacle.

Back at home I was pleased to see the first flock of lapwing by the River Lochy close to Glenloy – mixed with equal numbers of starlings (also uncommon just hereabouts) and a solitary curlew. Walking back via the canal, decided to investigate a smalll burn, the scene of a great massacre last year. The same scene of carnage greeted me again – bits of frogs everywhere in the water and on the bank. The culprits were obvious this time, however – large piles of otter spraint full of little frog bones, and clear paths between the burn and the canal. Mental note to self to see if I can see what is going on some evening soon.