Wedding – what wedding?

Published: 29th April 2011

Up before the larks at Glenloy this morning (but not before the song thrush outside our bedroom). Took some guests out to see the Blackcock lekking on a glorious spring morning. The rising sun was lighting up the mountains on the south side of Loch Linnhe, which in turn were reflected in a mirror-calm sea. Stunning. The blackcock could be seen to their best advantage, with their glossy black plumage shining in the early sunlight. At least five cocks were displaying at any one time, but there were no signs of any greyhens. Surprisingly we flushed two greyhens from the manicured lawns late one afternoon last week by the car park at Creag Meagidh.
Every lttle movement on the water could be seen. Had great views of Eider, Heron, Merganser and Goosander, a lone seal, Black Guillemot and a pair of Roe Deer down at Lochy Mouth, but no (confirmed) sightings of Otters.
At Glenloy Lodge the Yellowhammer are appearing daily and seem to be establishing a local terrritory, which is nice. Migrant birds have been arriving thick and fast. Heard at least three Cuckoos calling in Glen Loy on the 21st, and saw several Tree Pipit displaying. A Blackcap has joined the Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers singing in the garden. Actually saw a pair of Chiffchaff in the Rowan next to the house, so hopefully they will breed at the Lodge this year. Other unusual visitors have been a pair of Collared Dove, which again look interested in setting up a territory here, although they are rather adding to the early morning cacophany.
Sandpipers are just arriving back along the burns, and I heard a Grasshopper Warbler reeling by the canal on the 26th. That same afternoon we came across a solitary Brown Hare, also by the canal. The corrugated tin sheets I placed up the glen last year are producing dividends, with a nice Slow-Worm under one; my first of the season. On the same day the heather was alive with scuttling lizards, and large, fast-flying moths. Angela casually mentioned a huge pretty moth on the sun lounge window, which flew off just as I approcahed it. Fortunately she had photographed it – a lovely female Emperor, and one which I would have loved to have got a better look at!
Last weekend the mild nights produced literally 100s of moths in the light trap, from around 25 different species. Amongst the usual Clouded Drabs, and Hebrew Characters found at this time of year were a couple of rarities. The Yellow-barred Brindle is a pretty, subtley-marked geometer, which we have had before, but the nationally notable Barred Tooth-stripe was a first. It appears there have been a few records from up and down the Great Glen, but this was still a notable catch. Things have been a bit slower on the butterfly front. Lots of Peacocks have been attracted to the wonderful cherry blossom that we have been enjoying, along with the odd Small Tortoiseshell. Green-veined White and Orange-tip made their first appearance last week, and several of the latter were flitting around the garden today.
Had a trip out to Muck on Wednesday on a surprisingly choppy sea. The first Corncrake have been heard on Muck, but we did not hear any that day. Got excellent views of Great Skuas on both Eigg and Muck, and wonder if numbers are up slightly this year. Despite the swell we did manage to see a pod of five Porpoise, and a couple of pairs of Puffins. Always a great trip out on the Sheerwater. A trio of diver species, including an obliging pair of Red-thoats in Eigg harbour rounded the day off nicely.