Mid-June Highlights

Published: 23rd June 2014

Male ptarmigan in summer plumage

Male ptarmigan strutting his stuff

 

 

Funny how things change. Looking back at the corresponding trip with Glenloy Wildlife guests last year, we struggled to get a glimpse of an Otter, but were well off for eagles. In a recent wildlife week we had excellent views of otters, but no eagles. Perhaps this was because we had our noses to the ground looking for butterflies. The first Otter was in a rather unexpected place, right by the road along the shores of Loch Lochy at around tea-time. I spotted some ripples by a boat on the way home and stopped to have a look. These turned into a trail of bubbles then an Otter surfaced. It spent quite some time fishing around the bay, though markedly less successfully than those we see off the coast. The following morning we had cracking views of a pair of otters swimming right past us and coming onto rocks to spraint – well worth the early morning start. The Blackcock had all but given up that morning, and have effectively finished lekking until after their moult.

Perversely, we had good views of White-tailed eagles the week before and the week after with smaller groups of guests. On Thursday a sea-eagle was spotted soaring majestically over the crag behind Castle Tioram – a very scenic spot! On the way home we also managed the most distant of Golden Eagles from the new panoramic viewpoint at Dirnie Hill – a good addition to the road around the peninsula.

 

Other highlights of the week came on a trip up Cairngorm. We had excellent views of a cock Ptarmigan with two hens, a pair of Dotterel and two pairs of Snow Bunting, one of the latter right on the summit cairn. Befittingly, the Dotterel were in the ‘RSPB off-limit zone’, but hung around to give us a nice display anyway. With an attendant cast of Ring Ouzel on the descent, Wheatear and Meadow Pipits, we couldn’t have asked for more from this excursion. We were even able to find a Crested Tit by the shore of Loch Morlich later in the afternoon, with other great birds such as breeding Goldeneye, Slavonian Grebe and Ospreys adding further interest for the day.

 

Butterflies and moths continued to be an attraction. It is always a thrill to show someone their first Chequered Skipper – particularly if one obligingly shows at the first attempt! There were plenty about, although the bluebells are now all but over. Marsh Fritillary were still flying (rapidly) at Cuil Bay, although weather conditions have not been ideal. A few Small Heath have also emerged, along with the first of the year’s Dark Green Fritillary. Small Pearl-bordered were showing well in Glen Loy, but were reluctant to settle. Dragonflies have been less conspicuous, although Four-spot Chasers and Golden Ringed Dragonflies have been about when the sun has shone. Had one of my best ever hauls of moths from the trap on Monday, with over 40 species, including a nice trio of Eggar, Fox Moth and Drinker, all impressive, and dwarfed only by no less than 8 Hawk-moths (Elephant and Poplar).

 

Many thanks to Ronnie on the Sheerwater for taking us the extra mile on a recent boat trip to Rum We were fortunate enough to come across a large raft of feeding Manx Shearwaters, joined by plunge-diving Gannets. Was that or was it not a dolphin in the wake?

 

The Pine Marten kits continue to grow, although it does look as thought there are only two remaining now. Lucky guests have been treated to the sight of them hunting for food (well handouts) around the front of Glenloy Lodge with their mother. We have some more good camera trap footage of the youngsters leaping around. Equally entertaining were leaping Wood Mice under the bird feeders. The Yellowhammers are still visiting as is the Great-spotted Woodpecker and hordes of young chaffinches and sparrows. It is sometimes difficult to know where to look here – just as well or I might have to do some more work in the garden!