It was a bit tough today actually! Mainly because it was too sunny and bright, very cold and windy and wildlife does not really like any of that. We did see sea eagles, otter and male hen harrier and a treat of a male Long Tailed Duck at Gribbun and of course lots of the more typical things like fallow deer stags, red deer, seals, rock and meadow pipit, wheatears, skylarks, curlew etc but eagles were really quiet today and I am still not 100% on where all the different birds are going to nest, however the male harrier was circling and then off with his prey to pass to the female and I more or less have them sussed which does help my trips and the potential for people to see these things. But you know visiting a specific nest site to see a particular bird is not necessarily a great idea because you can then spend hours just looking at a nest with little action.
A couple more tourist tips if you are thinking of coming to the west coast and islands of Scotland. They are mainly single track roads here and so do learn to reverse. Bring binoculars, waterproof, sensible footwear and swimwear. Do lots of research before coming and be prepared for places to be far bigger than you expected. Ignore all weather forecasts because the BBC regularly get it wrong and rarely give us credit for super weather such as we have had since Easter. It is a childrens paradise with loads of exploring to do but it’s all about the great outdoors and not the all inclusive kids club in Tenerife.
We are just back from a trip to Cambridge and Sams PhD graduation which of course was a very proud moment for all and conducted in the very historic Senate House. Don’t talk to me about Scottish weather though when it was wet, windy and very cold down there for the two days. Whilst up here it was gloriously sunny again and has been since Easter !! We left Cambridge in wind and rain and had a pretty bumpy flight to climb a long way above the weather. In sight of the Scottish borders the dark featureless sky turned to blue with puffs of cloud decorating it. From Glasgow through Glencoe it was the usual crystal clear environment of huge snow capped peaks and blue sky. Arriving back here we had a cloudless sky and the Hebridean Princess a former Cal Mac ferry which is now a posh cruise ship, at anchor offshore. I don’t want to talk about Sheffield United which spoilt my weekend Ok ! But it is going to be a super sunset later.
2 more very atmospheric days. Yesterday very windy and cold with only glimpses of sun. Today lots of sun again and not so windy. Yesterday we saw most things including otter but no golden eagles. But I did have the lovely Kerry on the trip who was I think 10 years oldish and full of intelligence and enthusiasm as she kept wandering off to explore and look for more ‘bones’ and red deer antlers. She didn’t find one to match hers but today I had a rendezvous with the family and gave here one of mine. Interesting human children are a natural wonder. Today we saw lots of eagles, short eared owl scrapping with a buzzard, two male hen harriers and one female, great northern divers in summer plumage, twite but no otter. Both days were very successful really and with enthusiastic adults and one child who could be the next Kate Humble. Maybe she should host a childrens Autumn Watch ? What do you think Kerry ??
We had the otter trotting up from the coast below the house again today. Guests who are staying with us were looking at a bird on a post when the otter suddenely appeared below it. We watched him for some time ambling up toward the small wood by the house and I can only guess that he has his eye on perhaps some chickens up the road but who knows because they are naturally inquisitive creatures and very happy on land. By the way we also have a great spotted woodpecker now coming regularly to the bird feeders.
I am on the roof painting today in more glorious weather and which we have had for some time now. It is predicted to continue for at least another week. So get the sunblock packed and get a fly drive deal as soon as you can. Why do so many people travel abroad never having even seen The Hebridean Islands, when they must be some of the most spectacularly beautiful places in the world.
Another glorious sunny day with a flat flat sea. So flat it was difficult to take your eyes of it. Porpoise then from the off, sea eagles and young golden eagle all within 15 minutes. Then another sea eagle sitting and flying and a number of summer plumage slavonian grebes and summer plumaged great northern divers. A Black guillemot, more divers and pergerine falcon on sea cliffs flying and sitting and brief otter. Another sea eagle, red deer, both seal species, an otter asleep and then wandering around on the seaweed, golden eagles in Glenmore and highlight of the day a female harrier and then a male on high tumbling out of the sky to the ground to chase off another male, twite, sparrowhawk and lots of pipits, skylarks, stonechat, common sandpipers, cuckoo calling and lots of easier to find creatures too. Finally a glorious sunset this evening.
After owning a hotel here for 25 years, running my wildlife trips for a similar period and with another 7 years under my belt here on the West Coast I feel duty bound to give potential visitors my big tourism tip. Don’t fall for ‘TOURING’ Scotland. When Mull alone has around 300 miles of coastline and Skye 1000, how much does the rest of the west coast and islands have? You end up regretting it, feeling very tired of packing, unpacking, catching ferries and meeting endless deadlines. Put down roots in say two places if you are here for a week. If you are here for longer spend a week on Mull and a week in the Outer Hebrides or the Cairngorm National Park for something totally different. Suppose you fall for that ‘tour’ ? What if it’s raining for your two days on Mull, Skye, The West Coast, East Coast etc etc. You wont even ‘see’ those places because you are moving on again tomorrow !!! Put down roots and give the weather a chance to change, because it will. Give time not just to seeing but enjoying the ‘feel’ of these wonderful places. You wouldnt tour Mongolia, so dont tour Scotland. It can’t be done with any sort of pleasure.
Sunshine and showers today after a trip to Glasgow. Just had an otter gambolling along the landscape in front of the house and headng for the coast. He realised that he could not simply go over the cliffs and into the sea and was then silhouetted with his long tail in the air as he wandered along the skyline of land and sea until he could find a way down. There is something about the gait of an otter that is extremely cute !
It’s been a really heady week with amazing weather and stacks of top sightings. Today we had a number of porpoise, slavonian grebes in summer plumage which will be off to Iceland anytime now. Lots of great northern divers and one calling which will also be off to Iceland in about three weeks time. Three peregrines arguing about who is going to be with who as we got a great view of a male otter coming ashore with spider crabs. It was a tough choice deciding which creature to look at. Later, Sea eagle on a nest, golden eagles close and above us, young sea eagle flying and sitting, red deer and seals of course, male hen harrier and lots more. It also seems that our sunny weather is to continue.