Whimbrel week w/c 8/5/11

Published: 15th May 2011

Mixed weather but a great week at Glenloy. Got off to a flying start with an Otter fishing in a high tide at Lochy Mouth, and finished off with a Golden Eagle on the way back to Glenfinnan on Friday eveing. Here are some of the other highlights:
Whimbrel seen in small groups and singly on no fewer than four occasions. Obviously in passage, and showing well along the coast. Noticeably shorter beaks than curlew, very dark. Rather quiet, with occasional bubbling. Small flock of Dunlin in summer plumage off harbour wall at Eigg.
Pair of Narrow-bordered Bee-hawkmoths nectaring on Lousewort at Allt Mhuic. Managed sufficient sunshine to also find a couple of Chequered Skippers before it ineviably clouded over. All managed a good look – small but glossy. First skippers seen at the weekend, so still nice and fresh.
White-tailed eagle sat up on nest, having just flown in , and apparantly feeding chicks (not visible). Clear despite (huge) distance.
Red deer stags sporting velvet – some of antlers already surprisingly large – regrowth of these never ceases to amaze. Still some deer obligingly near the roads in the late afternoons. Also picked up a few Sika – large, white, heart-shaped rumps clear, spots less-so.
Divers everywhere. Plenty of Great Northerns in breeding plumage off the coast. Black-throats also resplendent in their summer dress, whilst Red-throats a little shyer.
Fabulous to see Slavonian Grebes at their best on Loch Ruthven – busy place, marred by idiots walking down to bank in front of hide. Surely there should be a barrier at this time of year RSPB? Local Ospreys also obliged. Good views of an expected group of Blackcock on the return journey – two squared up to each other and displayed briefly. Much more convenient to see these in the afternoon rather than having to get up at the crack of dawn to watch them (the group rebelled and did not want to get up before breakfast!)
Red Squirrel actually sat on branch by feeders – still rather shy at new feeding station, and it disappeared before everyone could see it. Had a further bonus squirrel near Castle Tioram – have infrequent reports of squirrels by guests from here. Squirrels obviously feeding on pine cones at present in several locations.
Trip out to Small Isles on a miserable day at home turned out to be sunny and warm. Despite choppy seas managed to see a Basking Shark – our first of the season – right alongside the Shearwater. Only heard a single Corncrake calling, and then only briefly. Good display of Mountain Everlasting on coastal turf on Muck. Boat did a quick turn around small island off Eigg, affording views of Shag nest, along with nesting Raven and Fulmar. Roseroot in flower on the cliffs. Pair of Great Skua right on the top of the island, probably nesting. Many seals – both Common and Grey on skerries and rocks.
Bluebells coming into their best, distinctly early this year. Hopefully they will peak on next trip. Chickweed Wintergree also in flower, again early. New leaves of Oak fully uinfurled and at their best.
Excellent views of twite in breeding plumage at Arisaig and Glen Roy. Mother Otter and cub fishing off rocks at Garbh Eilean. The latter jumping in and out of sea. Bigggest disappointment was a cock Ring Ouzel, which only I managed to get a good look at – never mind, perhaps it will encourage our guest to come back and try again.