Friday, 29 April 2011


I'd like to use a different title for this but nothing else will do. With most of the guests on board we headed off to get the rest but we had a slight delay when we spotted an Otter. We told them of our good fortune as we headed towards the WT Eagle nest. With just the female bird on the nest we had a good look and headed back for the Otter. We were lucky enough to relocate it across the other side of the loch but at least everyone could see it. As we watched it started to head back towards us so we moved to a better position and got the beast as it came ashore - result!
The Golden Eagles were a must see bird for the guests and I'd said they may be difficult unless the wind picked up a bit but we diligently scanned the ridges and managed a couple of distant birds just before lunch. We allotted and hour and a half for lunch to attempt good views of the Goldies and filled time with a look round the flowers, a male Hen Harrier and bit of Adder watching.
I suspect that the guests were losing heart as to whether we'd get the eagles at all and the fly over Crossbills don't really have the same effect. I'd wandered off to try to get a couple of shots of the Adders and as I had a quick scan round a Golden Eagle was just rising up from the ground. It must have been sat just out of sight from where we were but it looked mightily impressive against the forestry in the background. All of a sudden it was like a war zone as the cameras started firing off and a Raven came in for the aerial dogfight! Just look at the way the Golden Eagle has turned it's head to watch the Raven coming in.
The first Golden Eagle was joined by it's mate and they circled above us at close quarters...
...real close!!
As if that wasn't enough the two adult birds were joined by a juvenile Golden Eagle too!! How do you follow that? You can't really but it's an amazing experience to be that close to wild eagles. We carried on regardless and upped the tally of the small birds with nice views of White Wagtail, Linnet and Whinchat.
Just as I was putting the camera down after that shot a Cuckoo flew past us too. We did have a small diversion to take in some Early Purple Orchids but the aim is to please everyone.
The Mountain Hares continue to be a crowd pleaser too and they performed well today. We had a few in the regular reddish colouration but the white one was a lot harder to spot. This one below was on the white sandy beach and blended in perfectly but as you can see it stands out well on the grass.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Hazy days.

The last three days have been hot and sunny so the suntan is coming along nicely but it's played havoc with the photography attempts! The wildlife has been behaving itself and showing well but the migrants do spice things up a bit. I was pleased to see the first Common Whitethroat that I heard singing but it took a couple of days to get one near enough to photograph - the heat haze murdered the photo!
The White Wagtails are numerous up here at the moment but every time you point a camera in their direction they start chasing the Rock Pipits or Pied Wagtails - I'm happy with this shot though.
I've got one good photograph of a Whinchat in my collection - this is not it!
So that was another one murdered by the heat haze and there is worse to come but you'll have to wait for it. There have been some impressive flocks of Meadow Pipits around the coast but they seem reluctant to spread themselves around the breeding areas at the moment. I managed to get a haze free photo of Meadow Pipit.
The plants don't give any problems so if these look a bit sharp a quick poke in the eye should make them look as blurry as the rest of the shots;-) I'll let you have a guess at this shrub...
...and the fresh flowers of Lousewort just look fabulous.
Now for a return to one of the poorest photos you'll ever see. I've been hearing Cuckoos for over a week now and it was great to actually see one on Tuesday.
The Mountain Hares have performed well but they are reluctant to get close enough for decent shots.
The Twite numbers are increasing steadily as they return to breed.
So you can see there are plenty of good looking birds and beasts to see but get a look at the ugly mug on this Red Deer!!
I'd best leave you with something nice to finish off - no explanation required just awesome.

Sunday, 24 April 2011


Friday was a real hot one with the temperature soaring to 24 degrees. An Otter showed very well in the morning but was a bit camera shy.
A good showing from both types of eagle, a couple of Hen Harriers and we even seen the Adders mating! Cracking views of Twite were had just after watching 3 Whimbrel come flying in from the sea. The Easter Bunny was on the run too.
Saturday was a complete contrast as the temperature didn't get over 12 degrees and we saw a couple of showers in the morning too! The Golden plover flock has increased slightly and there were a good number of Redshank at our first stop of the day. We had a cracking sighting of Peregrine perched on the roadside before it took flight and circled above us.
Only one Adder today and she was staying in cover in the dull conditions.
It was another great day out except for the lack of Otters - it must be holiday time for them too!
Sunday it was lashing down in the morning so the only thing we could look for was an Otter. Quite a few GN Diver and Grey Heron later we found an Otter asleep on a seaweed covered rock - result. The Otter was on the move before long and as we watched it swim off I picked up a male Hen Harrier flying past. It was still raining when we got another fly past this time by 5 Knot - an uncommon bird up here. We headed for sunny weather after that which improved things no end. Mountain Hares showed well along with stunning views of Lapwing, Wheatear, Golden Plover and Meadow Pipit. Our next stop was better again with Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Manx Shearwater and a superb Lapland Bunting!
The photo doesn't do any justice to the views that we had. A flock of about 50 Meadow Pipit were flying around and some were showing alongside the Rock Pipits and White Wagtails. A Common Buzzard provided a better opportunity for a photo.
The next stop gave us another migrant bird when we waited patiently for a singing Common Whitethroat to show itself. We hadn't had any eagles yet so we put a bit of time in for those in the afternoon.While we waited for something to appear in the sky we got close views of a female Adder...
...and did the rounds of the plants - Lousewort, Dog Violet, Wood Anemone, Butterwort and a good sniff of Bog Myrtle. Time was pressing on and it was looking quiet so we headed off. A few Whinchat were singing and flying about so we stopped for a better look.
They were never close enough for photos but stunning birds to see. The supposed brief stop was extended when a couple of Golden eagle appeared in the distance and two more soon appeared a bit closer before we eventually got a closer fly past.
We did have a male Hen Harrier too but the eagles were too distracting! Whimbrel was a hoped for bird by one of the guests and we were fortunate enough to get one in flight next to a Curlew before relocating the bird perched on a rock.
We finished the day in style as we watched the WT Eagle on the nest and the other bird flew in after about 20 minutes - an eggcellent Easter treat!!

Friday, 22 April 2011


Thursday started off a bit misty.
The mist was clinging to the hillsides but there was plenty of sunshine too which is nice for lighting up things you want to photograph - Northern Wheatear was the subject in the morning.
With the weather clearing nicely I decided on a trip to Staffa in the afternoon. The usual array of birds on the way out with quite a few Guillemot, distant rafts of Manx Shearwater, plenty of Shag and Razorbill too.
As we approached Staffa most of the Fulmars were on the cliffs with the odd one on the sea.
The island of Staffa looking superb as usual.
The rock pools are overlooked by most people but they are beautiful in their own right.
The main attraction for heading out to this island is, of course, the Puffin.
They put on a real show too.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011


Monday it was back to the fine weather and another cracking day out. The Golden Plover are still hanging in but still only about twelve birds at the moment and the Mountain Hares continue to show well too. Another flock of Golden Eagles today may have been distant but it's not that often you'll see more than a couple together. While watching the Goldies we had a flock of about 100 Pink-footed Goose heading North to their breeding grounds. Best sighting of the day was this juv Golden Eagle.
Another bonus on the day was my first Common Sandpiper of the year. A good finish to the day was had as we bagged three WT Eagle and a male Hen Harrier.
Tuesday was a bit of a different outing as I had three young children aboard. An attempt to get the main attractions early was called for while the children were fresh. We started well with an Otter that was seen by all with the kids managing to get views through the scope too. A closer Otter was a bonus just as we were packing up. While viewing the WT Eagle nest we hit lucky with a juv Golden Eagle flying over - that turned out to be the only Goldie of the day. A single Adder was seen but best of all the kids got to take home the shed skin of one of these reptiles. Two awesome sightings in the afternoon. First off we had a female Merlin taking exception to a Buzzard diving into the heather and actually seeing the Buzzard off. No more than five minutes later we stopped to look at three Rock Dove but as we pulled up they flew off, why? A male Hen Harrier came screaming through where the Doves had been! We managed to follow this bird and watch it attempt to catch something before heading straight for us and veering round the motor - pretty exciting stuff!
Wednesday I had to make the effort to get some photos and with some better light I went camera mad! We started off with a small squad of Eider...
...and an up close and personal Willow Warbler blasting it's song through the window!
Next up was an obliging Otter with a couple of Oystercatcher and Herring Gull for added interest.
The Red-breasted Mergansers are stunning at the moment but I'm still waiting for a good shot.
Two WT Eagle and a Golden Eagle completed the mornings viewing. A couple of Adders were viewed briefly before lunch but this Common Crossbill was a bit more obliging.
Another attempt for adders after lunch was more successful as we located male and female coiled together.
The male Adder was a real stunner.
As we watched the reptiles a Golden Eagle appeared over the ridge showing well but when I looked the other way there was another Golden eagle being harassed by a Raven - an awesome display!!
There was no way of topping that but the commoner birds we saw after that were duly appreciated along with the Mountain Hares.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Zero visibility.

Saturday was a bit of a cloudy day with a cool breeze. We started the day with Grey Plover, Greenshank and Ringed Plover outside the shop before heading off in search of Otters. No sign of the furry mammals but there were a few GN Diver, Eider and Shag along the way. The WT Eagle is a 'sitting duck' as it incubates the precious contents of the nest - still an impressive sight. Next stop was a Golden Eagle territory where we viewed the female bird on the nest before seeing the male cruising the ridge. As we headed back along the way a large bird was spotted and by the time we'd stopped there were two - Golden Eagle again! Three more birds joined in the fun and circled round while the territorial male just sat and watched them. There was obviously a lot of respect being paid as the flying bird drifted off but none of them encroached on the territory that was being held. A long hard look for Otters eventually turned up the goods when we located a mum with two cubs just settling down to sleep.
Our good fortune continued in the afternoon as another Golden Eagle was picked up, Black Guillemot scoped, a single Yellowhammer perched briefly at the side of the road and a couple of Wild Goat spotted on a ridge were highlights. We finished the day well with nice views of Linnet and Twite, a male Hen Harrier and a squad of Mountain Hare.
A few things I noticed over the last couple of days is the flowers coming through and some birds that were absent in the winter but are now abundant. I wonder if the Bracken is a little slow this year as the Lesser Celandine are a blaze of yellow wherever you look. The single flower is just stunning after quiet days of Winter.
If you get the right place there will be carpets of Dog Violet mixed in with the Celandine but get a bit closer and you will find Wild Strawberry too.
As for the birds the humble Meadow Pipit was absent this Winter but they have now returned in force...
...and the cheery Willow Warbler appears to be singing from every bush and tree.
Sunday was shocking day with zero visibility and rain - we couldn't even see the WT Eagle on the nest it was that bad. The only saving grace of the morning was a single Otter. We decided to head for clearer weather and hopefully we could follow that through and improve our chances. It was still a struggle to find any notable species despite picking off some of the commoner birds but eventually we turned up a female Hen Harrier that gave us stunning views. Next up we got a distant Golden Eagle which was left to drift off as we picked up a male Hen Harrier a lot closer. Plenty of GN Diver were on show through the day but none better than this one in Summer plumage.
We finished the day of with excellent views of two WT Eagle and also a Golden Eagle perched on the hillside. It just goes to show that it's not that easy but if you put the effort in there will be rewards!