Thursday, 23 June 2011


Before we came to the island, we had given ourselves a friendly little challenge. We wanted to try and see if we could spot 100 different species of birds in a week, a task both Steve and Dougie had not managed to do before. Unbelievably, when we awoke on the morning of our final full day we had seen 99 species, just 1 away from our target. As we'd explored as much of the island as we could we were really struggling to think of where our possible 100th bird would come from. The only thing Steve could think of was to try a bit of a sea watch to see if we could pick something up out at sea. And so we headed off to a little place called Kintra. On the moorland approaching the tiny coastal town we stopped at a little farm as Dougie spotted some little brown birds feeding on the side of the road. They turned out to be a small flock of Twite, and we were getting excellent close views from the comfort of the car. But they werent new birds for us so we quickly moved on. As we pulled up at Kintra, Dougie immediately fell in love with the place. As can be seen from the picture above, it basically consisted of around 10 houses overlooking a tiny bay, and very little else. But the remoteness made the place even more appealing to Dougie, and he talked about wishing to live there one day! Nothing wrong with having dreams, mate. But thats the future, and we were in the present, and right now we needed a new bird. We got out of the car, walked through some fields and settled on the cliffs to look off shore. The first thing we saw was a ship not too far out, and on closer inspection it turned out to be some sort of research vessel. There were no birds on the sea, but a few things were flying past, mainly Terns and Gannets. But then, we all saw a small trickle of Gulls flying past the ship. Almost as one the three of us immediately called out 'Kittiwake'!!!, and were surprisingly ecstatic. We had our 100th species, and we were all absolutely thrilled. Challenge won, we headed back to the caravan to have a celebratory cup of tea!
The lady who owns the farm that we were staying at had told us there had been an Adder in the fields just behind the farmhouse. It had actually bitten and killed one of the newborn lambs. So what did we decide to do? Yep thats right, go looking for the Adder! We actually had a pleasant hour or so exploring the area, but alas we found no snake. We did however find a brand new species of butterfly for the three of us, Green Hairstreak. A great little find!
Seeing as we were in snake-hunting mode, we decided to go and have another look in a different location. Steve had been told of a place on the Pennyghael estate that was a reasonably regular spot for them so we decided to take a look. After a gentle ten minute walk we stopped at a wooden gate. To the side of the gate there were a couple of sheets of corrogated iron that had been deliberately placed on the ground. Dougie and Steve were both saying how we would never see a snake cos the weather was so bad when I called out 'there's one'!!! Sure enough there was the tail end of an Adder just poking out of the iron. Of course we wanted better looks, so Steve (our version of Steve Urwin) lifted up the sheet of iron. The Adder was in full view and sat there completely unfazed by our presence. The other two got their fill of photos before Steve gently put the metal sheet back and we left it in peace. It was a fitting end to a truly memorable week. The three of us had had a superb time. We'd seen some superb wildlife in truly stunning scenery, in great company. What more could you wish for!

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