The sun has got its hat off

Published: 19th April 2011

Hurray, the sun is finally shining here at Glenloy, and not before time. As I write Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler are singing in the garden, and a Song Thrush is waking us up every morning around 6am from its favourite perch. Tawny Owls have been busy calling to each other outside the Lodge at the other end of the day. The spring flowers are making their appearance and rhodedendrons are starting to flower around the garden. The verges on the road into Fort William are bursting with Cuckoo Flower, and it surely cannot be long before the first Orange-tips make their appearance. To date we have only seen Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell, the latter in pleasing numbers. The verges of the A82 south of the Fort have their usual display of Wood Anenome, which appear in glowing white clumps as you speed by in the car. This is one of my favourite spring flowers and has subtle shades of pink on closer inspection. The woods around Arisaig were full of them last week. Celandines are also fully resplendent in shining yellow.
Other arrivals include the first Swallow of the year, seen on the ridiculously early date of 9th April (although it must have just passed through as I have not seen any since). Small groups of Puffins and other auks are on the sea around the Small Isles, although hopefully the main arrival has yet to happen. The first whales and Basking Shark have also been reported, again rather early in the case of the latter. Bumblebees have been attracted by our garden lungworts for some weeks now. They seem to get everywhere, and we were surprised to see the first Red-tailed Bumblebee female at the top of a Monroe in Glen Coe yesterday. Black-throated Divers are appearing on local lochs in summer plumage, although there are still some grey-looking birds to be seen out on the sea. Wheatears are now everywhere up to the tops of the highest mountains. We were also fortunate enough to see a Peregrine calling continuously in a nearby glen, presumably in the hope of attracting a mate.
We have not seen any more squirrels in the garden. I am now pretty sure that the Pine Martens have been eating the peanuts in their shells, as I have watched one taking these. How they worked out that this was a good idea, I have no idea. Clearly they take the peanuts away and shell them elsewhere as there is no mess under the feeding point. At present two Pine Martens are still feeding in front of the house each evening, the usual little female, and a much biigger male. She is not at all happy if he arrives at the same time as she is there and growls continuously with her mouth full. If she has had her kits, as we think, she may have come back into season and is now an attraction in her own right. We called in at the FCS car park at Glen Righ yesterday and was pleased to see that the viewing wall adjacent to the squirrel feeders is now complete. Less impressive, however, was the lack of nuts in the feeders. I understand there has been a problem getting someone to fill these, but it seems an awful shame not to, particularly as the squirrels were obviously around and potentially a great attraction for visitors. Red squirrels are great to see and any West Highland sightings need to be reported.