Sunday, 5 June 2011


I was awoken at 5.00am to the unmistakeable smell of bacon. Dougie, being used to getting up nice and early for work, had gotten up nice and early and made breakfast for the three of us. This was something he did for the whole week - bless him. So our bellies full of bacon, sausage, egg and beans we headed out full of spirits. Even the rain didnt dampen things. Our first stop was to be the muscle beds at Loch Scridan but on our way we decided to check out a scrubby/ woody area to see what was about. On getting out of the car the first thing we heard was a Whitethroat singing close by. A little walk put us onto it singing amongst some gorse. Quite a number of common songbirds were seen including Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Chiffchaffs etc and also a small number of Siskins regularly flew over us. But then we heard the familiar sound of a Raven on the crags above us. We scanned along and seen the bird, which was then joined by another. It appeared we'd found a possible nest site which was something new to us. We watched the pair coming and going and interacting with each other for about 20 minutes before heading back to the car. On the way back we heard a high pitched squeaking sound by the side of the road and when we investigated we stumbled across a Common Shrew out hunting. It barely even noticed us as it scavenged for food. We left the little critter to go about its business as we headed off ourselves. Steve had told us that the muscle beds at Loch Scridan was a pretty good area for Divers, so we set up our scopes (in the rain which is never easy) and began to scan. The first things we saw were a couple of Shags dotted about, and then we spotted a Diver though this one was a Great Northern. And then we came across a different species of Diver. On closer inspection we saw that it was a Black Throated Diver. Little did we know this was to be our only Black Throated Diver of the week. As the rain was coming down heavily we decided to pack up and move on. Our next stop was a place called Lochbuie. We were here to look for an animal that I was surprised I'd never seen before. We stopped next to a beautiful stream overlooking some open fields and quickly found our targets, a herd of Fallow Deer. These are incredibly beautiful creatures and not necessarily that scarce but I'd just never happened to come across any before so I was particularly keen to see them here. As we counted (there were 8 in total) we also noticed a couple of Red Deer tagging along with their cousins. Steve and Dougie were trying to get some photos but the Deer were just a little too far away to get anything good, so we made the decision to try to outflank the herd and creep a little closer. It looked like an extremely straightforward task, but it didnt take long to realise what we had let ourselves in for. The fields were absolutely waterlogged with the heavy downpour that the island had been subjected to and the fields were as boggy as hell. As I only had small walking shoes on I was struggling more than the other two and they seemed to find it hilarious watching me struggling to keep up with them and I ended up with saturated feet but we eventually got close enough to get some great photos. It almost made the splodge feel worthwhile. Almost.On the approach road to Loch Spelve we stopped at a little woodland to see if we could find any woodland birds. We gave ourselves plenty of time to fully explore the area but the birds were few and far between. The dubious highlights were a single Spotted Flycatcher and a Lesser Redpoll found by Steve, but the birds were fairly routine common stuff. This was our first disappointing stop of the trip but it was still early days so we were in no way downhearted. Our next bird was much more like it. While driving along the main road to Lochdon near Grasspoint one of the lads spotted a Short Eared Owl sat on an old fence post. Steve screeched to a halt (luckily there was no-one behind us!) and reversed so we were in line with the bird. It didnt bat an eyelid and sat happily posing away as Dougie and Steve snapped away with their cameras. As can be seen above some excellent pics were taken. We then went to a raptor watchpoint at Grasspoint. This is a well known White Tailed Eagle nest site, so we set our scopes up in anticipation. After a little wait, an adult bird glided in from our left and perched in a tree on the other side of the valley. Shortly afterwards it relocated to a different tree slightly further to the right, this revealing a second bird that we hadnt even realised was there! We watched the two birds for quite a while, just sitting there, doing very little before eventually getting quite bored and so we went for a walk. It was only a short walk to the coast, and on the way we picked up a couple of Sedge Warblers and one of a million Wheatears on the island. The only other thing of interest was a load of frog/toad spawn in some of the tidal pools. There was tonnes of them. I didnt realise they could survive in salt water but clearly they were thriving here. Anyway we eventually wandered back to the raptor watchpoint. The Eagles were still in exactly the same place!

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