Friday, 18 December 2009

Red squirrels love Cluny House Gardens

If you're in Perthshire over the Christmas break, make sure you pop into Cluny House Gardens in Aberfeldy.

The gardens are offering free entry to the gardens throughout the winter and it's a great place to watch wildlife. Their speciality is red squirrels who although threatening in other parts of the country and thriving in Cluny House Gardens.

Entry is free until end of February (although donations towards squirrel food are very welcome!).

More Information

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Make your New Year resolution for 2010 to do something to support biodiversity.

Did you know that 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity?

Wild Scotland is a partner organisation and to get things starting, we're asking everyone to do one simple thing to help preserve biodiversity. It can be something very small or more significant but it all helps.


Have a think or have a look some ideas on the the International Year of Biodiversity UK website.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Montrose Basin: still full of geese

Montrose Basin in Angus is the place to be at this time of the year. The nature reserve run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust is just full of birds, including 20,000 pink-footed geese.

Now is a fantastic time to visit as the winter clear days gives some excellent light on the species.

The pink-footed geese are still in very high numbers for this time of year. The last goose a few days ago still turned up around 20,000!

Other winter species numbers include:
  • Dunlin - 655
  • Scaup – 69
  • Shelduck – 1191
  • Wigeon – 1710
  • Eider – 1081
  • Shoveler – 12
  • Oystercatcher – 1412
  • Kingfisher – 2
The Centre is open Friday, Saturday, Sundays from 10.30am until 4pm. The new hide at Tayock gives an excellent vantage point from which to watch the morning lift of geese and also at dusk when they come back to roost with us.

For more info: Montrose Basin Reserve and Visitor Centre

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Don't miss the boat!

Congratulations to Wild Scotland member, cruise company The Majestic Line who won the Best Visitor Experience category at the Highland and Islands Tourism Awards at the end of November.

For more information, click here.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Another Whale of a Season off Gairloch!

It’s been another super season for whale and dolphin watching with Wild Scotland member, Hebridean Whale Cruises who run from Gairloch Harbour on the West Coast of Scotland.

So far this year, sightings have been:
  • Minke whale: 277
  • Long-finned pilot whale 1
  • Humpback whale: 1 definite & 1 possible
  • Short-beaked common dolphin: 2319
  • Bottlenose dolphin:80

There have also been several sightings of killer whales in the area.

For more information about wildlife watching trips from Gairloch, visit Hebridean Whale Cruises

Friday, 13 November 2009

Another Good Season on Mull

Here's a round-up of the wildlife-watching season on Mull from Discover Mull's Arthur Brown:

"With the summer and autumn season now over this is an update of the happenings from Discover Mull on The Isle of Mull during these two seasons.

"White-tailed eagles (Sea Eagles): a record number of 10 chicks were fledged this year on the island so we were very pleased. Three pairs fledged two chicks each which was also very good and one chick died when a nest collapsed causing it to hit the ground just before it was to follow its sister in flying the nest, the only black spot on a very good year. We were lucky enough to have very good white-tailed eagle sightings on most of our tours with views of two adults taking gulls and eider ducks being the most exciting. Some guests were able to get some very good photographs of this magnificent bird of prey flying low right above our heads, a fantastic memento of their stay on Mull.

"Golden eagles did not have such a good breeding season due to wet and cold weather in May this year. We have more breeding pairs of golden eagles than white-tailed eagles on the island but they fledged less young which meant that it was harder to see golden eagles on the tours as less birds were feeding young. We were very lucky to see them on most tours as our favourite pair did manage to rear a youngster despite having to build a new nest this year as their chosen nest sight of the last few years blew out in a gale the previous winter.

"Hen harriers and short-eared owls had a very poor year due to the very poor May weather this year, in fact most short-eared owls left the island early as they had failed to breed so we did not see many on the tours. Hen harriers did remain in small numbers and we saw them on some tours particularly in the late summer and early autumn.

"Otters were seen on most tours and provide hours of entertainment and delight to all that see them. Fewer cubs were seen in the summer this year but as autumn approached more were being seen with their mothers as they got stronger and disturbance was less from visitors playing around the coasts, sailing and kayaking.

"Red deer were seen on every tour this year with the obvious highlights being calving in June and a spectacular rut in the late autumn. Fallow deer were also seen in the early summer and autumn before and after the bracken appeared and disappeared.

"The other main highlights of a great Mull year were mountain hare seen in very good numbers this year. Common and grey seals were seen on nearly every tour, one particular highlight was when we witnessed a common seal giving birth. Seabirds had a very good breeding year with gannets providing the most spectacular sightings of the seabirds plunge diving to catch fish.

"Another great wildlife summer on Mull, a working island and not a reserve, that shows what nature can achieve if we work harmoniously with it and not try to change it for our own ends."

For more information: Discover Mull and Wild Scotland

Friday, 30 October 2009

The fish are swimming too!

We're just received this video from the underwater cameras at Philiphaugh Salmon Viewing Centre in the Scottish Borders. It shows the huge number of fish trying to get up the river.


Friday, 23 October 2009

The Fish are Jumping!

Autumn brings some great wildlife spectacles, and one of the most impressive is the migration of salmon up our great rivers so that they can spawn.

This event is at its peak at the moment and one of the best places to watch it is at the Salmon Viewing Centre on Philiphaugh Estate near Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. The visitor centre with its underwater cameras and fish counter sits by the River Ettrick and over 600 fish were counted going up the river in one day!

Monday, 7 September 2009

The most northerly point of the British Mainland...

...has just got its own promotional video.

Often overlooked by its more famous neighbour John o'Groats, Dunnet Head is the most northerly point on the British Mainland. Often described as Caithness in miniature, the video below provides a flavour of the areas's attractions, including great scenery, geology, walking, fishing, horse riding, kayaking and of course, great wildlife watching. Dolphins were seen off the coast only last week.


The full DVD can be purchased from Dunnet Head Education Trust.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Wild Scotland at The Bird Fair 2009

Today, we're here at The Bird Fair at Rutland Water in Leicestershire. This is the last day of the fair and it has been a successful weekend. Visitor numbers have been higher than ever suggesting that interest in wildlife and the environment continues to grow.

One of the most pleasing aspects of attending the Fair is hearing how many people love Scotland and agree that Scotland is Europe's no.1 wildlife-watching destination.

We've had record numbers of entrants into our prize draw this year too, with over 800 entries. With nine prizes up for grabs, it has obviously caught visitors' attention.

We're also highlighting the Highland Tiger campaign on the stand which has generated alot of interest in the Scottish wildcat.

On the stand this year, I'm being helped by Rachael from Rothiemurchus Estate and Lynda from the Scottish Seabird Centre, as well as our Chairman, Ben Mardall (pictured).

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Batty about Bats

Now, the bat is a species that is often overlooked, however with 17 species found in the UK, there is plenty to learn about these amazing little mammals.

At this time of year, youngsters will be becoming less dependent on their mothers' milk and will start to feed for themselves. As a result the nursery roosts will start to disperse.

Bats are active throughout the spring and summer but as the winter draws in they become less active and hibernate (from November to February).

So now's a great time to go bat spotting, and we just so happen to have a great event for you to attend...

Go Batty at Argaty
Date: 28th August 2009, 7.30pm - 9.30pm
Location: Argaty Red Kite Project, Lerrocks Farm, Doune, FK16 6EJ
Price: £4 adults, £2 children (50% donation to the local bat group)

Join experts from Echoes Ecology for a brief talk / presentation followed by a dusk and evening meander in search of our little ultrasonic friends! Using special detectors we will track their nocturnal antics as they try to catch their evening meal. This event is for enthusiasts and first timers alike. Please wear suitable footwear, warm clothing and a torch if you have one. This event is open to all (children must be accompanied by an adult).
For more details contact Argaty Red Kites by email or phone (01786 841 373)

More information

Friday, 10 July 2009

Curious minke whale...

Here is a great video taken a few days ago by Andy Tait during a whale-watching trip with Sea Life Surveys on Mull. This young minke whale is definitely checking the boat out!


Enjoy the part when the whale turns over to get a better look at the boat (about 2 mins into the film).

For other wildlife videos by Andy, visit his YouTube page.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Glenloy Wildlife early June highlights

Had some great sightings with Glenloy Wildlife guests last weeks, and am just playing catch up with some of the details:

Monday: 2 youg red squirrels ran along the road towards the van and paused on the verge for a good look before scampering off. Sword-leaved Helleborine still flowering nearby. Eagles up the glen.

Tuesday. Orchids flowering in Glen Loy Chickweed Wintergreen in the Caledonian Pinewoods. Whinchats singing throughout glen. Spotted flycatcher by deer fence.

Wednesday:Stopped to look at a goosander in Loch Linnhe and spotted a female otter on the rocks, which then fished for us. Whist still watching for the otter two sea eagles appeared behind us, and were harried by a golden eagle, with great views of all. For good measure a buzzard and a raven also appeared in frame to give a great idea of scale. Later that day a pair of merlin were disturbed by a raven , which they continued to harry for some minutes, shrieking and dive-bombing it.

Thursday. Shearwaters cutting the waves around the boat on the way to Rum. Hundreds of common seals sunbathing on the skerries.

Friday. Porpoise rolling in Loch Linnhe and fantastic close-up views of Marsh Fritillary on the shore nearby.

Saturday. 3 black-throated diver feeding together in close group on nearby loch affording fantastic views from the shore. Red deer hind, heavily pregnant, feeding by the bridge at Glenfinnan and unwilling to move as we eventually crept past.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Great Time for Whale Sightings

Here in the Wild Scotland HQ, I'm receiving reports from up the West Coast and round to Dunnet Head that there are plenty of whales about at the moment.

Minke whales were seen only last week in the Pentland Firth from Dunnet Head on the north Caithness Coast and operators in Gairloch tell us that whale and dolphin sightings are excellent at the moment.

Excitingly, West Coast whale conservation charity, the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust had a fantastic sighting of a humpback whale between Coll and South Uist. For more info, click here.

So if you're interested in whale-watching, then now's the time to head north!

More info:

Monday, 22 June 2009

Harbour porpoises at the weekend...

Wild Scotland Chairman, Ben Mardall writes about his wildlife encounters from a weekend on the water...

"While sailing this weekend on the West Coast of Scotland, we spotted harbour porpoises and a bottlenose dolphin. On Saturday, just after leaving Craignure on the island of Mull, we were making for the island of Lunga when I heard a ‘blow’ behind me. I looked round to see a dolphin two feet off our stern. It went under the boat and I went forward hoping to catch another glimpse at the bow but it had disappeared as quickly as it had appeared.

"On our way home on Sunday, again between Oban and the Sound Of Mull, we came across the tideline and saw two groups of harbour porpoises, about 8 or 10 in total. A great sight, watching them breaking the surface and disappearing again. Such a fleeting glimpse however it builds the tension and you are almost willing the next sighting on. It does not matter how many times you have seen dolphins, whales or porpoises, you never tire of that amazing feeling you get when they suddenly pop up in front of you.

"We did not make Lunga on the Saturday night so we anchored off a small just north of Lunga. With it being the night before the Summer Solstice it was light until very late on, even with a heavy cloud cover. Plenty of wildlife to watch though, seals relaxing on the rocks as well as gannets, shags and skuas.

"Back ashore, the drive over from the East Coast was not without wildlife encounters too. As we came through Glencoe there were more red deer by the road than I have seen for a long time and just as we came through Ballachulish, a roe doe with two kids right on the verge."

Please be very careful when driving late evening, early morning and at night, lots of wildlife about, do take care.

Please let us know of your sightings and experiences while in Scotland, especially if you have been out with one of our Wild Scotland members.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Whale Watching: the ethical alternative

This week I've been on Mull with the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA) and Really Wild Show presenter and naturalist, Terry Nutkins.

Wild Scotland is supporting WSPA's anti-whaling campaign which is being launched this Monday at the start of the International Whaling Commission's annual meeting (see here for BBC article).

Wild Scotland took WSPA and Terry to Mull to join whale-watching company, Sea Life Surveys on a boat trip to celebrate a more compassionate way to profit from these stunning animals.

The minke whales which frequent our waters each summer, and which more and more people are wanting to see are at threat. The annual Norwegian whale hunt, which takes place every year in April has been awarded a 2009 whaling quota of 885 minke whales and has killed over 150 whales so far this year. These are the very animals which come to the safety of Scottish waters each year.

Do help support the campaign. Find out more at www.wspa.org.uk.

Photo Caption: Sea Life Surveys skipper & Wild Scotland Board member Richard Fairbairns with Terry Nutkins

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

A Note from Wild Scotland Chairman

Welcome to the Wild Scotland Blog, it has been very remiss of me as Chairman not to have contributed to the blog as yet. So I have to apologise to Caroline our excellent Project Manager for my delay.

Wild Scotland was formed over 5 years ago, it was created because the operators recognised that the industry was growing and there was concern that the fragile resource we aim to share with the public could be jeopardised. So the operators formed a charter to work to, sort funding to develop best practice guidance and set up a not for profit body to give the sector a voice and the mechanism to respond to wider market concerns and demands.

Those principles still remain and during that period we have worked with Visit Scotland to develop a ‘Quality Assurance’ for Wildlife Operators, with Scottish Natural Heritage on the ‘Best Practice Guidance’ and with Scottish Enterprise and Highland & Islands Enterprise to raise awareness and gather research on the sector.

There are currently just fewer than 100 businesses across Scotland working to the Wild Scotland Charter and up holding the principles that were laid out in our formative years.

If you are going to take a wildlife holiday I would encourage you to use one of our members and you can be safe in the knowledge that not only will you get a great experience but the wildlife you have come to see will there in the future for others to enjoy.

Have a great holiday and keep on eye on the blog and website over the summer as the members report in their sightings.

If you have any great wildlife experiences that you would like to share with us please do get in touch via our website.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Ben Mardall
Wild Scotland Chairman
www.wild-scotland.co.uk

Friday, 5 June 2009

BBC Cameras at Wild Rose Escapes, Ross-shire

Spring has sprung in the Highlands at Wild Rose Escapes. Rosie Hazelton provides an update on their activities:

'Our spring flowers and greens are here, we have had our first harvest of nettles and dandelions, the swallows are back and the seabirds are settled in.

The growing season has started! This week I have been cleaning our demi-jons ready to make a batch of gorse flower wine - from Lizzie’s granny’s recipe.

We spent today mixing clay and bracken to make our first bread oven of the year, the best way to mix is to stomp! We have ended up with a beautiful dome shaped outdoor oven ready for tonight’s homemade pizzas.

BBC cameras & us!
Last month we had the BBC filming one of our family holidays for the CBBC programme; Gimme a break- where the children choose the holiday, and they chose ours.

We started with a tour of Leckmelm farm with Lucy, feeding jock the Clydesdale horse, the pig with her piglets, holding the baby chicks, and collecting eggs. Lucy was a natural with the camera and the kids loved hearing all about the farm and its inhabitants both animal and human! The family returned to their cottage in Ullapool to a home cooked supper and still had time to pop out and see the stunning sunset.

The following day the family went for spot of fishing with Steven, a local gamekeeper, and afterwards went out on Brian’s speedboat seal spotting. We ended the day with mussel collecting on the shore and a beach barbeque with freshly caught prawns donated by Gerry, a local fisherman, the family and crew loved them.

The family spent their last night in a castle just outside Inverness completed with a haggis supper and Highland piping.

If you are interested in watching us all we will be on BBC 2 and CBBC in September'.

For more information about Wild Rose Escapes and their holidays, click here.

May Wildlife Report from Isle of Mull

Arthur Brown of Discover Mull Wildlife Tours writes about his May wildlife highlights...

'May was very changeable weather wise with days when it rained incessantly and days when it was beautifully sunny.

The month began with great sightings of great northern divers and red throated divers and on the 1st May we saw our first fulmar of the year.

Golden eagles were seen on all but one tour in the month with a high count of 7 on the 10th. Hen harriers were about in good numbers at the start of the month and were joined in a few areas by short eared owls. These owls became harder to see as the month drew on as they started nesting. We hope the wet, cold weather does not prove to be a problem for these ground nesting predators.

I saw my first wood warbler of the year on the 9th and the next day we had 4 tufted ducks in the Loch Ba estuary, a duck we rarely see in North Mull. The white-billed diver was seen on the tour on the 15th much to the delight of the birders on the tour. In the middle of the month a lot of whimbrel were seen as were some beautiful golden plovers.

Shelduck ducklings were seen, 8 of them, but we have not seen them since, we hope mink have not taken them. The 21st proved to be a raptor fest with most of Mull's birds of prey were seen on the day including great views of a peregrine falcon.

Little birds prominent in the month include linnets and twite we are seeing these birds more often on the tours this year but the same cannot be said of the whinchat which have been in short supply, it was the 24th before I saw my first whinchat of the year.

It was 2 days later when we had a high count of white-tailed eagles with 6 being seen in the day. Bird-wise the month ended on a high with great views of a pair of summer plumaged long-tailed ducks, the drakes long tail showing very well and it was the first time I have seen the long tail on this predominately more northerly sea duck. The month finished with great sightings of Manx shearwaters and great skuas, I cannot wait to see what birdlife June brings.

The usual mammals were seen on most tours with grey seals being the obvious stars but mammal highlight of the month were 5 arctic hares all together on one tour, a terrific sight.

Bluebells and primroses got the month off to a fine start on the floral front and in the middle of the month a botanist pointed out 2 new flowers to me, the mountain everlasting near Eas Force waterfall and bogbean, a beautiful bog plant not far from Calgary Bay. The month ended with prchids, the wonderful narrow-leafed helleborine on the woodland walk at Calgary Farmhouse Hotel, then the heath and common potted orchids and the beautiful deep purple northern marsh orchid which I will endeavour to photograph in the next few days.

It has been a great month for wildlife watching and I can’t wait to see what June will bring, so get out there and enjoy it, or better still come up to Mull and see it with us from our self catering chalets or on one of our tours or both. Enjoy the summer and we hope to see some of you on Mull later in the year, cheers Arthur and Pam.'

For more information about Discover Mull, click here.

For special offers on accommodation and trips on Mull, click here.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Highland Wildlife & Birdwatch Safaris (Aviemore)

Late May 2009 saw us enjoy some fantastic dry, hot, sunny weather with temperatures soaring to 27.5c on the last weekend, and we now have almost 20 hours of daylight - great wildlife watching weather! With all of the Summer visitors now arrived, bird day-list crept higher up into the 60's, with mammal day-lists steady at 6-10.

Wildlife highlights included:
Most of our 'local specialities' - the species that my clients most hope to see (osprey, goldeneye, red-throated diver, black-throated diver, Slavonian grebe, dipper, red grouse, ring ouzel, crested tit, crossbill, red deer, red squirrel, mountain hare, etc) - continued to show well - though capercaillie & black grouse, with their 'lekking' season now over, have become much more difficult to see.

A new 2009 record (so far!) mammal day-list of 10 - rabbit, bank vole, wood mouse, roe deer, red deer, reindeer, brown hare, mountain hare, red squirrel & mountain goat.

Regular views of our local ospreys fishing (& sometimes actually catching a fish!) & delivering their catch to the female & chicks at the nest - a wonderful sight!

Great views of a ring-tail (female) hen harrier hunting low over heather moorland , impressing us all with it's very buoyant, acrobatic flight - sadly , this is a very rare sight these days.
Super close-ups of one of Britain's rarest and most beautiful birds - Slavonian grebe, on a lovely secluded local lochan (see pic)

A brief mid-afternoon glimpse of a beautifully marked woodcock on a quiet track - a rare & enjoyable treat as they are normally only seen at dusk.

Fledglings! first sightings of young goldeneyes, red grouse, greylag geese & ospreys.

More info: Highland Wildlife and Birdwatch Safaris


Friday, 22 May 2009

First Basking Sharks of the Season Reported!

The first basking sharks of the season have been spotted off the West Coast, a sure sign that summer is on the way!


Thursday, 30 April 2009

Peregrines

Staff and visitors at the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Falls of Clyde Reserve near Glasgow are watching their peregrine falcons.

Their stunning wild peregrine falcons are currently sitting on a full clutch of eggs, high up on the cliffside above the Falls of Clyde. From the SWT hide on the opposite cliff visitors can enjoy the closest views of a peregrine eyrie in Britain.

This is the 12th consecutive year of breeding peregrine falcons on the SWT wildlife reserve and they are provided with 24/7 protection.

The SWT Visitor Centre in New Lanark now has direct, live CCTV from the nest site (40 mins walk).

For more info, go to the SWT website.




Friday, 24 April 2009

Discover Mull comings and goings

Our week began with some fabulous views of Slavonian Grebes on Loch Na Keal in full Summer plumage a great bird to see, they will soon be going north to breed so this is the best time of year to see them on the Isle of Mull. On the same day we saw a drake Long Tailed Duck a rare species to see on Mull and only my second one of the winter.

The White Tailed Eagles on Mull are all nesting at the moment and so far 2 pairs have hatched chicks although we don’t know how many chicks each pair has had yet. When out on a tour this week we lucky to see 8 White Tailed Eagle all in the binoculars at the same time, this is really unusual and it only happens if the birds are feeding on large carrion. Golden Eagles are also nesting at the present time and as such are not as visible as they will be when their young have hatched. Hen Harriers and Short Eared Owls have been displaying this week a wonderful sight to see and they too will soon be thinking of nesting and having young.

The Deer both Red and Fallow have started to disperse from their winter feeding areas now, the Red Deer stags up the hills where foliage has started growing, they are losing their antlers now with only a few still having the monarch of the Glen appearance. The hinds are appearing on their calving grounds where there is plenty of grass and cover for the new calves when they are born in June. The Fallow Deer bucks are busily feeding up after the hard winter and the does are also feeding up prior to calving in the summer when they tend to lose themselves in the dense woodland.

The Otters on Mull have had a hard time this winter with several being run over and killed. Money from the Mull Eagle hide project has been allocated to put out road side reflectors in the worst areas to try to stop Otters crossing when vehicles are approaching, let’s hope it succeeds.

Most of our winter birds have now left Mulls shores although there are still some Great Northern Divers here, now resplendent in their chequered black and white finery. The Red Throated Divers that breed on Mull are returning to the nest areas and it is wonderful to hear their call as they fly over our house on the island. Bar Tailed Godwits and Whimbrels are passing through Mull on their way north to breed as are the beautiful Golden Plovers. Migrant birds returning to Mull this week Willow Warblers, Grasshopper Warblers, Common Sandpipers and Tree Pipits and the first cuckoos of the year have been seen and heard. Last but certainly not least the first Minke Whales have been seen this week by the whale watching boats so now we know spring has truly arrived.

For more news from the Isle of Mull go to http://www.discovermull.co.uk/ and read Arthur's daily blog.



Thursday, 23 April 2009

Highland Wildlife & Birdwatch Safaris report 18/04/09


What is it that makes us wildlife lovers get up at 3:30 am, and spend 12 hours out in the wilds at this time of year? Was it seeing the beautiful sunrise over the River Spey accompanied by the Dawn chorus?, the super views of lekking capercaillie & Black Grouse, or the close encounters with Roe Deer, Red Squirrel & Brown Hare? Whatever it was, my party all agreed that it was well worth it, to have seen these rare & special wildlife treats, and all before breakfast! The excellent bacon & egg butties were consumed with relish, and shortly followed by close views of Crested Tit and Scottish Crossbills in the Caledonian Forest, and amazing views of Ospreys at their nest - so close you could see their yellow eyes! The day continued with excellent close-ups of Red Grouse, Slavonian Grebe, Osprey (fishing), & Black-Throated Divers (see pic) and we were then able to enjoy our picnic lunch in a superb upland glen whilst watching huge herds of Red Deer, Mountain Goats & a Mountain Hare. All too soon , our day was over. Our day-list of 50+ bird species & 9 mammal species was impressive, but didnt really matter - what was more important was that we had spent a memorable day watching magnificent wildlife in a selection of varied & beautiful habitats in some of Britain's finest scenery and, best of all, had hardly seen another person - magic!!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Easter at Glenloy



Things have been pretty hectic at Glenloy of late, but now have finally got time to draw breath and provide an update.

Have had a great spell of weather of late, which completely coincided with the holiday of our first wildife guest of the season - so she was sent home a happy (Easter) bunny - the first lambs of the season also brought out the coos.

Saw our first swallow of the year at Oban on Monday (20th). Migrants have been coming in thick and fast - willow warblers appear to be singing from every bush and tree, having first appeared on the 11th - only 3 days after our first chiffchaffs - so didn't have time to get fed up with chiffing and chaffing before the willow wrens kicked in. Delighted to see our local ospreys back on Sunday (19th). We were worried about these as their nest uhad blown down over the winter, but two birds - presumably a pair- were perched on the same tree and looked to be rebuildling. Also had the first sandpipers along Loch Arkaig on the same day.

Lots of great northern divers up and down the coast - oftne in groups of 3 or more, and in all stages of transition from winter plumage to full breeding plumage - very handsome. A few red throats are also appearing but black-throated have been pretty elusive this last week.

Spring flowers are also coming into their own, with lots of lovely patches of wood anemone, carpets of primrose and celandine. Mayflower also appears to be locally abundant, and quite early. The first bluebells are starting to flower near the coast, and it won't be long before they are everywhere. Even the oaks are starting to leaf - no sign of ash though - sign of a dry summer??

Had good views of deer by side of road (most of antlers now shed) seals and pine marten to entertain our guest. Jim of Eagle Watch Cruises, Loch Shiel, did us proud as usual, with good, if distant, sightings of a goldie. Loch was beautiful and startlingly clear last Friday, despite a breeze on the way back. Saw the West Highlands at its best in the spring sunshine - long may it continue.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

First minke whales of the season!

Wild Scotland member, Sea Life Surveys have spotted their first minke whale of the season.

Four minke whales (a mother and calf and two sub adults) were seen feeding between the islands of Coll and Muck. Even better for everyone onboard the whales actually came over and associated with the boat.

Incredibly the first sighting last year was on the very same day!

Monday, 6 April 2009

Kinloch Huorn trip

Glen Garry is only half an hour away from Glen Loy, but once the main A82 is left there is another hour's worth of single track road to Kinloch Huorn at the northern edge of Knoydart. This is wild and spectacular country and the journey is pregnant with wildlife possibilities. I was fortunate enough to take a trip out on a sunny Sunday (it wasn't forecast!) with Ian McCleod of NevisPix, in order to suss out a possible boat trip. A stop off at the western end of Loch Garry is usually productive, and so it proved with plenty of goldeneye, a small herd of 6 whoopers and a goosander. The star was a distant black-throated diver that we were able to get a better look at further along the loch. More sand martins about. Plenty of deer along side of the road further along Loch Quoich, including a magnificent 16-pointer. Saw our first wheatear of the year - as usual flashing its white tail as it disappeared into the distance.

There is a dramatic descent into the narrow fjord of Loch Huorn, and the subsequent views across to Knoydart from the boat were magnificent (in an area noted for superlatives). The trip was short but sweet, out towards Barrisdale, and not nearly as choppy as feared earlier on in the day. The skipper, Billy, was full of useful local knowledge and historical facts - our thanks to him, and hope he had a good picnic afterwards. A couple of early seals seen together en route - strangely enough one common and one grey. Pleased to see my first greenshank of the year skimming low across the water. We had great views of a heronry on one of the little islands, and on the way back the first porpoise of the year. Definitely worth consideration for adventurous guests!

On the way back a well-marked moth with colourful underwings landed on the windscreen - an orange underwing. Not sure whether many of these have been recorded this far northwest before - record will be on its way to Butterfly Conservation sometime soon.

Checked out the local black grouse lek this morning - good showing with 7 blackcock displaying. Must be serious as they were fairly going at each other with their claws - not just posturing as is often the case.

Had a look up the glen for eagles this afternoon and was pleased to see one in the vicinity of a known nesting area. Although I was a long way from it (on a public path) I wonder if it rose off the hill on my account, as there has been a lot of local disturbance in the vicinity recently. A little further on a sea eagle appeared over the crest of a ridge, and was promptly seen off by another goldie. I suspect this is another territory. Good to see the contrast in size, and shape of wings - in addition, the tail of this sea eagle was particulalry diamond-shaped. Pipits provided about the only other avian distraction.


Posted by Gley Loy Wildlife

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Glenloy 31st. March, 20098. More lovely days in Lochaber last week. Took the opportunity to investigate the Arkaig glens, setting off via the Allt Chia -Aig and descending a parallel river back to the loch. Sparkling burns full of little drops and falls. Saw just the one dipper, and our first small tortoiseshell of the year on a forest track. Not a great deal about other than the ubiquitous frogs - huge masses of them in the peat hags - purring and leaping. Also saw yet more lizards, which Angela manged to photograph. Small flock of skylarks had ascended the glen, and these were tentatively beginning to sing. Large herd of stags on our descent on the other side of the river - which had descended into a small gorge, flanked with old scots pine at this point - very picture-postcard. Quite an easy walk, but wouldn't like to cross the watershed in wet weather!

Had a trip down south and took a detour on the way back to see the kites at Ardgaty, which I have been promising myself for some time. Beautiful sunny afternoon, with blue sky forming the perfect backdrop to these magnificent raptors. Was suitably impressed with the facilities. Nice screened walk to a spacious hide, interesting chat inside and a brand new visitor centre at the car park. The star attractions were performing nicely, with as many as 25 kites swooping down to the feeding station. A lone buzzard was living rather dangerously, trying to pinch its share of the booty. It provided an interesting perspective on the relative size of the kites - these are big birds! Surprised at how long it took for the kite flock to gather and start making serious swoops down for the food - at least it prolonged the spaectacle.

Back at home I was pleased to see the first flock of lapwing by the River Lochy close to Glenloy - mixed with equal numbers of starlings (also uncommon just hereabouts) and a solitary curlew. Walking back via the canal, decided to investigate a smalll burn, the scene of a great massacre last year. The same scene of carnage greeted me again - bits of frogs everywhere in the water and on the bank. The culprits were obvious this time, however - large piles of otter spraint full of little frog bones, and clear paths between the burn and the canal. Mental note to self to see if I can see what is going on some evening soon.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Glenloy Wildlife 20.3.09


Beautiful series of sunny spring days here in Lochaber this week .Explored the upper part of Glen Roy, hoping for eagle sightings. Not a lot about yet, and even had to get right up to the end of the track near the bothy before seeing a group of hinds. Still spooked from the culling season. The most prominent wildlife was the frogs, which were everywhere. Little males clinched big butch females in amplexus in every little puddle and roadside ditch. Ample spawn produced. A more surprising sighting was that of the first lizards of the year. These are still quite sluggish and don't sem to disappear quite as easily as usual, although mercifully still too quick for the dog. We did get to see our eagle - a juvenile, with a prominent white patch on its tail, possibly a male. It quartered the hill fairly close to us for some time, and we had good views. Scenery fascinating, with the parallel roads continuing above for almost the whole way, with additional glaciated valleys joining Glen Roy as side branches. The river terracing looks quite strange, and discontinuous - must find out more about how it was formed. On the way back we were equally surprised to see a couple of rabbits at Brae Roy - a long way up the glen, and surely at some distance from the nearest population. For more info see www.glenloy-wildlife.org.uk

Thursday, 19 March 2009

The first of many...

Welcome to Wild Scotland's blog.
Wild Scotland is the Scottish wildlife tourism association and our members are busy getting ready for the Spring season. If you love wildlife, then we hope that you'll enjoy our blog. We hope to bring you news of the many wildlife sightings and spectacles that Scotland can offer from our many members across the country. Hopefully we'll inspire you to come for a visit.

To start things off, here's an update from one of our members, Discover Mull who run wildlife tours on the beautiful west coast island of Mull.

Mull is a wildlife-watcher's dream, with sea eagles, golden eagles, seals, otters, minke whales as well as a whole range of bird life. This entry is from March 17th 2009, as you see Spring is on the way!

Discover Mull Blog: March 17th 2009
"Weather beautiful sunshine and a gentle breeze - Spring cleaning all morning then a trip around our local patch watching a hunting golden eagle and ring tailed hen harrier, buzzards, kestrel and ravens. In Calgary Bay there were 3 great northern divers and a single red throated diver, but the birds of the day were newly arrived skylarks busy feeding after their journey, it is lovely to see them back. A wheatear was seen yesterday the first one reported on Mull this year, Spring has arrived, Hoorah!"

More info about Discover Mull