Wildlife Highlights w/c 15th October

Published: 3rd November 2010

Seems a long time ago now, but we had another good few days with Glenloy Wildlife guests on the last of our scheduled 2010 hollidays. In the meantime we've actually had a (busman's) holiday – hooray! – but more of that later.
The weather was changeable and winds from the north brought in an influx of migrant birds. The local fields and hedgerows were full of thrushes, with Fieldfare and Redwing everywhere, and easy to view from the van. Not to be outdone by by the more exotic visitors there were large numbers of Blackbirds and parties of Mistle Thrush. We also saw several Goldcrest, and Siskin numbers have started to climb. We have not seen more than the odd one on the bird feeders yet but they are definitely in the conifers all around the Lodge. An added bonuse was a couple of Brambling mixed in with a large flock of Chaffinch at the foot of Glen Gloy. These handsome birds stood out in their black and orange livery and provided a great opportunity to compare and contrast amongst their cousins. Goldeneye are starting to appear on the large water bodies, and we had a nice trio of Whoopers on a quiet lochan. Conversely the week's most unlikely sighting was a Willow Warbler (probably), skulking amongst the thrushes in Glen Loy.
Deer remained twitchy, although the odd stag is now coming down to the lower ground to feed. The rut continues at a distance. We had good views of stags bellowing and racing around, but telescopes were still the order of the day. Despite the colder weather, the deer are probably well aware that stalking was still taking place into the weekend. Unusually Sika appear to be more noticeable locally and we even saw a stag in Glen Loy (a first for me). Later in the same day we also saw Roe, making it three deer species in a row, and also good for comparison of rumps and muzzles.
Otters continued to oblige and we had three decent sightings over the course of the week. The shorter days means that the window of opprtunity is rather narrower in the mornings, but conversely, otters seem to showing well in the afternoons at present. We again managed to pick one up from Rhu, basking in glorious autumnal sunshine on the rocks (us not the otter), with further views of divers and Mergansers. Sadly this weather was not to last. The Pine Marten settled down into a pattern of reliable appearances after an autumnal hiccup. Unfortunately the one night it did not make an appearance until the early hours was the one chosen by an American visitor to make a special visit – sorry about that Charles – all we could offer was a consolation Hedgehog (a much rarer visitor hereabouts).
Also had a great sight of a Golden Eagle by Loch Sunart. It circled low above us for several minutes giving our budding wildlife photographers plenty of opportunities for snaps. We also saw a Whiote-tailed eagle, which flew down Loch Eil, scattering waders and gulls in its passage. Later that afternoon we had a couple of added bonuses along Loch Linnhe in the form of a Merlin mobbing crows, and a Slavonian Grebe, quietly doing its own thing. Merlin must be on the move as we saw several the following week.
An undouted highlight of the week, however, was the autumn colour. The hills were glowing orange and gold with the fading grass and bracken, whilst the trees ranged from grren through yellow to bright red. Few leaves had yet fallen, and the Oaks, in particualr are putting on a fine show this year. When the sun shines there can be no finer landscapes than those of Lochaber.