Sunday, 28 June 2015

Scotland ~ Days 4-6

~ Tuesday ~ 

The day got off to a good start when we opened the moth trap to find 3 Poplar Hawk-moths and 1 Elephant Hawk-moth! We decided to make our way over to the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, the most westerly point on the British mainland. In the pools by the lighthouse we found several Palmate Newts and offshore we found Guillemot, Razorbill, Black Guillemot and a decent flock of around 40 Manx Shearwater.

Poplar Hawkmoth

Buff tip

On the drive back we ticked off Twite, before arriving at Ben Hiant for a walk, where eventually we picked up a distant soaring White-Tailed Eagle. A Golden Plover flew overhead, Redshank called on the marshes below, and a Whinchat sang from the bracken.

We returned to the cottage where once again the Pine Marten put on a fantastic show...I'll let the photos speak for themselves!

Pine Marten

Pine Marten

Pine Marten

~ Wednesday ~

Crap weather meant that we mainly spent time lounging at the cottage, where we had a couple of sightings of Otter, before unbelievable close views of the Pine Marten in the evening on the step just outside the window.

Pine Marten

~ Thursday ~

We took a day trip to Mull where unbelievably we picked up our first Wheatear of the trip, including several family parties.


Loch Na Keal proved fruitful with 2 otters - most likely a mother and cub - which we followed for a few hundred metres along the loch edge. We also got good views of 2 sub-adult White-Tailed Eagles flying over the loch!


White-tailed Eagle

We decided to make the long drive down to the island of Iona on the south-western tip of Mull. One of the first discoveries we made was   a white-winged Gull, which initially got us rather excited...until we realised it was just a leucistic Common Gull!

Common Gull (leucistic)

After a short while (including a detour going the wrong way!) we were in the area with the best chance of hearing a Corncrake. With strong winds, rain, and the wrong time of day - I was feeling less than optimistic! Our luck was in however, and over the course of 30 minutes we heard at least 3-4 individuals calling, including one around 5m away. The long vegetation of course meant it was impossible to see them.

We also saw Twite, Skylark, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and Rook (the latter 2 being quite scarce in this part of Scotland).
On our walk back to the ferry Matt and Megan spotted a Corncrake in a resident's front garden. After an anxious wait, I managed to get a 2-3 second view as it ran from one clump of vegetation to another, a brilliant tick!

Driving back along Loch Na Keal we saw an adult White-Tailed Eagle in a usual spot and then we spotted a recently-fledged juvenile flapping its wings deeper in the forest: an incredible end to what had been a brilliant day.

White-tailed Eagle (phone-scoped)

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