Spring Flowers Holiday May 2016

Published: 30th May 2016

Hit it just about right here at Glenloy for the spring flowers, this week. The bluebells are fully out in some places, just emerging in others, along with greater stitchwort, pignut, wood sorrel and plenty of remaining wood anemone, primrose and celandine. We even managed to find some early butterwort in flower, along with the first of the mountain everlasting, and slightly later plants such as bugle and water avens. Gorse was at its peak, with a blaze of yellow across the croftlands. The white racemes of bird cherry hung heavy from the branches, and are a particular favourite. Soon the orchids will be with us. Although flowers were not our only goal of the week, it was great to see some colour amongst the myriad shades of green in the freshly unfurling forests.

Birds did us proud, with a total of 106 species seen or heard in the week. Highlights included a glorious pair of cock ring ouzels in Glen Roy, a striking Scottish Crosssbill feeding in Scots pine, some very obliging wood warblers and cuckoos everywhere. We heard the corncrake on Muck, and had some stunning skuas on the way across. My particular treat was a singing pied flycatcher; a cock holding territory by Loch Arkaig, and my first for this part of the world. We also saw spotted flycatchers and swifts, so can safely assume that nearly all the migrants have now arrived.  Some are yet slow to depart for northern shores, including a flock of nine whimbrel, and lots of great northern divers in breeding plumage. These included a leucistic individual, which has apparently been around all winter. The blackcock were still performing, albeit a little reluctantly. We had a few distant golden eagle sightings, an adult white-tailed eagle on a branch by the nest site, and two sets of ospreys on nests.

Mammals also showing well. We had a couple of great otter sightings, including a large male that sprainted all around the rocks at Lochy Mouth before swimming directly towards us. It disappeared with a splash at the last minute. The red deer are growing their new antlers apace.  We were treated to a view of a couple of stags sparring on their hind legs – boxing with their forelegs, like hares. The squirrels at Inchree were very active. I counted at least seven on the feeders at any one time but there must have been at least 10 coming and going, and entertaining us with their antics. We saw a minke whale near Mull and a pair of porpoise in Loch Linnhe, so the warm weather has brought in the cetaceans. The pine martens were also active, with mother still squabbling with her older youngsters for dining rights at the Lodge.

To round the week off we had plenty of newts, and a few butterflies – largely green-veined white. The weather was not really suitable for butterflies – but it’s set fair for finding chequered skipper next week. You can’t see everything in one week, that would just be greedy!