Spring Highlights 2017

Published: 20th May 2017

Here at Glenloy Wildlife we have been particularly busy over the last few weeks as we kick into the height of the new season. Already we have had many great sightings, so here are a few highlights to whet your appetite:

Firstly, we have enjoyed fabulous spring weather in May. This has brought out the butterflies, with orange-tips everywhere, and the first reports of chequered skipper have been posted. There has been a mass emergence of four-spot chaser dragonflies, along with large red damselflies.

The warm spring has brought on the early emergence of spring flowers, with some fantastic carpets of bluebells. At the same time wood anemones, celandines, primroses and violets have continued to flower, leading to a great display. What a contrast to last year, when the bluebells were just starting to show in June!

Summer migrant birds have now all arrived, the last being swifts seen over Fort William this week. We have had great views of cock redstart and wood warbler at Ariundle, whinchats in Glen Loy, and grasshopper warblers both here and elsewhere. As usual willow warblers and tree pipits are singing everywhere.

Local ospreys are now all breeding, with the hens on eggs. Follow the progress on one of the Arkaig pairs on the Woodland Trust website via an excellent nest camera. The pair on Loch Lochy have returned to an old site which is easily visible from the public road, much to our relief.

The blackcock are still lekking, and numbers have been good this year, with 9-11 males regularly displaying. We will run our last trip of the spring to see them this week, as they will soon be moulting after this.

Fort William is still proving a great spot for otters, with lovely views of a mother and cub earlier this week. The adult caught a large fish, which it brought up onto a rock to eat.

Great northern divers have now all gained their breeding plumage and have mostly left these shores for northern parts. A few remain in the area, and three were seen on Thursday 18th, and are well worth looking for. Black-throats are back in all the usual locations, although those on Loch Shiel seem almost to have vanished.

Sika deer are moulting to reveal their spotted summer coats. We saw a herd of around 30 last week, and sightings have generally been good of late. The red deer cast their antlers early this year, most at the beginning of April, and already some of the stags have considerable new antler growth, covered by velvet.

On a recent trip to the Small Isles we were accompanied by three bottlenose dolphins into the harbour at Eigg. First whales and basking sharks have also been reported.

Red squirrels continue to visit the garden at Glenloy Lodge and visitors have been lucky enough to see one regularly at breakfast time. The feeder is being well used, although ‘our’ squirrels seem to make most appearances about lunchtime.

Pine martens have been showing well for photographers, whilst searching for peanuts amongst the rhododendron stumps. We still have the mother and one of last year’s sons visiting regularly, with occasional visits from an older male. This year’s kits appear to be growing well, although we have only heard them. It will not be long now before the mother moves them out into the big wide world.