Itinerary – Whales and Sharks
The following itinerary gives an idea of what to expect this week. Exact locations will vary according to preferences and weather. Remember – some of the best wildlife encounters can be had in inclement weather!
Saturday: Arrival. Orientation. Pine marten watching (which can be held each evening!). Moth trap and short evening stroll to listen and look for bats, if fine.
Sunday:(am/pm) Boat trip to the Small Isles. Visit the island of Eigg on the Sheerwater out of Arisaig. Look for cetaceans including minke whales, dolphins and porpoise. Shearwaters should be still around with other seabirds such as gannets and young auks, as well as the possibility of passage migrants. We spend time ashore on Eigg, where we walk across the sandy bays to Kildonan, looking for waders, woodland birds and raptors along the way. We should have plenty of time to enjoy the local café and harbour life before returning to Arisaig.
Monday : (am/pm) Drive up the south side of Loch Ness to Loch Ruthven, where we look for late Slavonian grebe and fishing osprey, kites, sika deer and brown hare. Continue on to the Black Isle, where we visit Chanonry Point, with its famous bottlenose dolphins, hunting salmon as the tide races in. Look out for early passage migrants : through the narrows here, including skuas and shearwaters.
Tuesday : (am/pm) Ardnamurchan Peninsula – Ardgour and Morvern. Cross the Corran Ferry, look for black guillemot, seals, divers and otters. Visit the shores of Loch Sunart, where we also search for otters and red deer. Drive down into Morvern and along to Loch Arienas and the Rahoy Hills. Walk round the mixed woodland and historic townships of Inniemore, where we should see a variety of butterflies and dragonflies, if fine, with further possibilities of eagles Return via Kingairloch, with the chance of otters, sea eagle, wild goat and twite along the way. If weather is not great we will visit Lochaline and look for fossils and eagles.
Wednesday : (early). Have a look for blackcock near Fort William and then otters at Lochy Mouth.
(am) Visit Inchree where we look for the red squirrels at the feeding station, before taking a walk up to the Inchree Falls, keeping an eye out for woodland birds such as siskin, goldcrest and crossbill.
(pm) Cuil Bay, where we look for a variety of shore birds and passerines, including twite, and possible migrants such as whimbrel. Search for divers and otters in the wide bays.
Thursday : (all day with early start). Travel to Laga Bay on Loch Sunart via scenic route by Loch Ailort and Acharacle. Take a full day whale watching trip with Ardnamurchan Charters. Travel up through this stunning sea loch to the Sound of Mull and onwards to the Cairns of Coll where whales and basking sharks feed. Continue to the Isle of Muck where we have time to visit the tea shop during a short spell on land. Return via the Ardnamurchan peninsula. Other marine life may include gannets, skuas, fulmars, sea eagles, seals, porpoise, dolphins and even sunfish. Dinner will be taken in a local hostelry on the way home.
Friday: (am) Look at contents of moth trap. Explore Glen Loy. Walk up the Glen looking at the various woodland and upland habitats, including Caledonian pine forest. Look for eagles in the upper glen, along with deer and ravens. Possibility of late reptiles, dragonflies and butterflies.
(pm) Glen Roy. We visit the famous Parallel Roads and drive along this stunning glen, looking for raptors and deer, including sika. Have a walk at the end, admiring the river terraces, and looking for a variety of woodland birds in the small plantation.
Saturday: Depart after breakfast
Other options – Glen Nevis, Arisaig and Rhu, Loch Eil and Stronchreggan, Garbh Eilean.