End of silly season is nigh

Published: 1st September 2011

The kids have all gone back to school and the stream of foreign visitors to Glenloy Lodge is slowing down – which all means we can concentrate on the wildlife again here.
First of all, I spoke too soon about the lack of Pine Marten kits. We have had a young male coming to feed regularly, which turns out to belong to the 'resident' female. The evidence for this is that she occasionally grabs him by the neck and starts licking his ears clean. He is still a bit nervous, but comes on his own to feed, and by doing so directly competes with his mother. There may be another, female kit as a much smaller youngster once appeared with the gangly youth, and lounged about on my car for a while, but we haven't seen her since. Clearly the older female felt disinclined to bring them along for the spectators when they were smaller this year – probably a wise move.
Have made the opportunity to recce a few areas this week, and see what there is about, in advance of a wildlife holiday next week. Birds in general seem quite quiet and skulking yet, and the ducks are still drab. Still, there are parties of Wigeon and Teal at Lochy Mouth, and the Dabchick have appeared in numbers on Loch Eil. There are several groups of Curlew foraging in the recently cut fields and the Golden Plover are gathering off the hills on the shore at Kinlocheil. Winter comes early to this neck of the woods. Even the Meadow Pipits are beginning to flock, and the swallows and martins are beginning to gather, although none have moved off yet. Sadly there were too few Swifts about to even notice their absence. We have an unusually high number of young Chaffinch and Sparrows still coming to the bird feeders. It is about this time of year that they move out into the wider countryside to forage and the garden becomes quieter. Hopefully this will happen, if only to give my pocket a rest.
The local Osprey is still perched above the nest on Loch Lochy and may yet hang around for a week or two yet. Went in search of Golden Eagle today, and was rewarded with a good view up Glen Loy. I even fancied I saw this bird through the scope from Fort William over Drum Fada – at that distance it surely had to be one of the eagles! There was a large flock of around 50 raven massing over the tops uip the glen – quite a gathering, and presumably indicative of a successful breeding season. Equally pleasing was the sight of a couple of young Stonechat. The heather is in full bloom at present, slightly later than last year, and with the added bonus of a touch of sun, this was a fine way to pass a couple of hours (before our next guests arrived!).
The sun brought out a Small Tortoiseshell this afternoon, and there are a few Peacock and Green-veined Whites about. The last of the Scotch Argus are still around, albeit looking a bit bedgraggled.
A neighbour told me of a possible Wildcat sighting up Glen Loy at the weekend. An exciting prospect – will try to get out and have a look one night.