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