Here on Skye both Wednesday and Thursday this week were weather affected with some heavy showers on Wednesday and persistent light rain for most of the day yesterday. The conditions have been very dull hence no decent images.
Staffin Beach was the first venue on Wednesday morning, the grim reaper Great Black-backed Gulls were not improving their reputation with one snatching and gulping down a Common Gull chick and we watched a pair stalking through the grass looking for Curlew chicks (with the adults mobbing them). The Otter showed again and a pair of Red-throated Diver were calling and displaying and two Great Skuas were present. A couple of Crossbills were nearby.
Another boat trip out of Portree was spoilt due to the incoming rain but the pair of nearby White-tailed Eagles again showed well, with one of them making a pass at a thrown fish from the boat. Some birding on moors just west of Portree ended up being a very soggy affair with a Merlin, some Red Deer and more Crossbills being the more noteworthy sightings.
We finished the day committing to a ten mile walk around the Glen Brittle area in the shadow of the Cuillins. Two distant Golden Eagles were probably the highlight (we have yet to experience a close view on this trip), but a female Goosander on the river with a brood of young was good to see as were more Red-throated Divers, common warblers and common waders on the beach. Some sunshine brought forth butterflies which included Common Blue, an unfamiliar 'brown' butterfly (research required) and a brief view of what looked like a Wall Brown. The constant breezy conditions make for challenging identification of flying insects!
Another visit to Staffin Beach yesterday confirmed that the pair of Great Skua are summering there, and a fish shoal attracted over a hundred Kittiwakes, auks and some Arctic Terns. A Whimbrel remained just off-shore as did plenty of Razorbills and a couple of Red-throated Divers. The Portree area didn't produce any birds of note.
We then explored an area in the south east of Skye called the Sleat Peninsular. A woodland walk in the rain was quiet but we saw Tree Pipit, Bullfinch and Great Spotted Woodpecker which were new for Skye. Other birds noted included Siskin, Crossbill, Lesser Redpoll and lots of Willow Warblers which are more typical birds of this island. A Whimbrel was nearby.
There are two minor roads which cross over the peninsular and via interesting habitat and the birds here included Hen Harrier, Greenshank, Red-throated and Great Northern Divers, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wheatear, Grasshopper and Garden Warblers and broods of Eider, Mallard and Teal. Several Red Deer represent the proportionately small numbers of these animals on this island, apparently following a significant cull.
Eleanor and Neil