Spring is finally here

Published: 1st May 2010

Spring has at long last come to Fort William. There was a Blackcap singing in the garden at Glenloy Lodge yesterday, and the trees all around are all greening up. The first Rhodedendrons are flowering around the Lodge. Wild flowers are starting to appear everywhere. There is a particularly fine display of Cuckoo Flower on the verges now, and right enough, there were the first Orange-tips out on the wing about Onich and Ballachulish on Thursday. The Wood Anemones are also at their best, and little splodges of white formed a patchwork  by the roadside all the way from the Fort to Oban. Next door's Swallows were busy mating on the telephone wire outside our back door!

We also heard our first chiffchaff last week, although the male that drove us nutty (a new politically incorrect word – or is that just “nutters”?) all last summer at the Lodge has yet to appear. Glad to hear good numbers of wrens still singing pretty much everywhere we have been. We also heard a Grasshopper Warbler reeling for the first time this year, in the rushy field adjacent to the Castle Stalker viewpoint. We watched and waited for some time, but as usual, the bird itself proved elusive.

Last weekend was a weekend of eagles. We had two great views of Golden Eagle in fine, sunny conditions. The first was at the top of Glen Nevis, not far from well-frequented tourist haunts. It crossed from one mountainside across the glen to the other, and plummeted like a stone to land somewhere unseen amongst the tangled rocks and craigs. The second required rather more work, with a walk in the Mamores, high above Loch Leven. Another Golden Eagle appeared right from the top of a mountain not far fromn where we were huffing and puffing, circled then glided effortlessly across the loch to the Aonach Eagach ridge.

Shortly after we saw the eagle we had, for me, the equally great treat of a male Ring Ouzel, chakking away from a rocky craig. It provided some good views for a coule of minutes before sinking down into the cliffside below us, out of sight. This has been a bogey bird for me since we came up to Glenloy Lodge, and the sighting strengthens my resolve to look for more. As we reached the summit of Beinn Caillich, a butterfly flew over, just as one had a couple of week's ago above Ben Tee. Does anyone have any thought on why there should be butterflies at the top of mountains?