Unexpected Treats

Published: 29th July 2011

July has been a month for unexpected sightings in the Glenloy area. We took a large extended family of Israeli guests out for a few days, more to admire the scenery than look for wildlife specifically, but the latter just kept getting in the way. We had several good sightings of deer (for high summer) including our local stag, “Angus”, who made a dash for it right in front of the minibus late one night. Roe deer have also been obliging. Local Osprey showing well on nest, which is now full of two rather large chicks that must be very close to fledging. Seals were admired (with some difficulty by a small boy and a telescope) on Loch Linnhe, and more easily from the Garbh Eilean hide and the Mallaig Ferry. Shearwaters, gannets and auks graced the crossing to Skye. On the Misty Isle we saw Buzzard and (one for me) a nice ring-tail Hen Harrier. The flowers were particularly pleasing, with colourful verges and old-fashioned haymeadows almost everywhere we went. An added bonus was the scarecrow festival, based around Talisker. The late trip back provided plenty of interest. Just between Gairlochy and Glenloy Lodge, a young Fox trotted down the road for some distance in front of us, a Barn Owl narrowly avoided collision, and deer had to be watched out for.
A few days ago Angela and I had another unusual sighting, of a Mink, in the early evening. It crossed the road as if to saunter up towards Erracht, but then turned and narrowly escaped a car before vanishing into the long grass.
We managed to squeeze out a walk up to the lochan below Creag Meagidh on Tuesday, buoyed by the weekend sightings of a butterfly enthusiast who was staying with us. Again this was a lovely walk, enriched with flowers, including the first (rather early?) Grass of parnassus of the season. Even better, the sun brought out loads of butterflies, including our target quarry, the Small Mountain Ringlet. These were indeed small – no more than the size of a Common Blue, and some individuals were looking distinctly frayed around the edges. Quite a dull, but active little butterfly – one for afficianados. We counted about 10, and to these could be added numerous Dark Green fritillary, late Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary, Large Heath, Snall Heath, and plenty of mint-fresh Scotch Argus. As an added bonus we also saw 3 Azure Hawkers, d a Gold-ringed Dragonfly, and a very handsome emerald green bee. The woods were full of Redpoll. This seems to have been an extremely good year for Redpoll, and we have seen them almost everywhere we have been.