On Monday a significant improvement in the weather provided us with an opportunity of exploring more areas around Gairloch. First it was to Red Point with a beach to safely play with the collies away from any sheep! Birds here included Bonxie, all three species of diver, Gannet, Wheatear, Stonechat and a Teal with ducklings. On our way back, Eleanor spotted a pair of Red Grouse on roadside heather. Unbelievably these were the first ones we have seen in over four weeks in Scotland!
Back at Gairloch we went out on a short boat trip which proved to be very quiet. The heavy rain from the previous days had effectively washed peat in to the sea and pushed much of the coastal wildlife further out. Nevertheless we enjoyed close views of Grey Seals and spotted Storm Petrel, all three divers, auks, Bonxies and brief views of Porpoises.
An upland walk in the afternoon was very pleasant (Slattadale Trail) but bird species were minimal with perhaps the best being Grey Wagtail, Cuckoo and Stonechat. Cat scats reminded us that eyes were watching us even if we couldn't see them!
A drive around the coast to Poolewe was pleasant and high tide there produced 9 Greenshank, 11 Red-breasted Mergansers and a distant Otter. Gruinard Island was watched from a lofty and very scenic distance (the venue of the Anthrax experiments last century).
Woodland birds detected south of Gairloch included Tree Pipit and Wood Warbler. Late evening saw us driving the lanes around Badachro, providing views of lots of Red Deer and a pair of fly-over White-tailed Eagles at 9.30pm with an even later beach walk (for the collies you understand) which provided the unexpected view of a surfaced and huge submarine just outside Gairloch Bay (this area is used by NATO for training and monitoring)!
On Tuesday (25th) we visited the national reserve of Beinn Eighe and foolishly elected to take the 'Mountain Trail'. Only four miles long, the first two miles were pretty much straight up! Bird-life was very minimal, at one stage we walked for 90 minutes and only recorded two species! However the views were spectacular and almost made up for the lack of hoped-for Ptarmigan, Golden Eagle etc. An on-territory Greenshank kept an eye on us for much of the walk with his loud yelps echoing around the mountain. An upland brown frog was presumably that colour to blend in with the heather and peat? Other birds included Common Buzzard, Raven, Siskin and Tree Pipit. Two summer plumage Black-throated Divers graced the waters of the adjacent Loch Maree.
We then drove along one one of my favourite roads in Scotland, the connecting road between Kinlochewe and Torridon. Awesome mountains both sides, really interesting woodland habitat and deep freshwater and sea-lochs make it all very compelling. However this is big country and it is surprisingly difficult to find the sparse wildlife hidden within it. A pleasant walk at Torridon was good for close views of Red Deer and common birds which included Twite, Red-throated Diver and common waders. A longer walk parallel to Loch Clair and Loch Coulin was required to locate a pair of Black-throated Divers with a single well-grown youngster. Fledged juvenile Willow Warblers had somehow survived the week-end deluge as had a freshly fledged Stonechat family, and a pair of Whinchat were feeding young in the nest.
We finished the day again at Gairloch sea-front which provided the statutory Red-throated Divers and Eiders but little else.
Eleanor & Neil
|Another Highland Cow!|
|Great Black-backed Gull|
with sea urchin
|Green Tiger Beetle|
|Spotted Orchid sp with bumblebee sp|