Thursday, 27 June 2013

Scotland Day 34 (27th June)


Today we walked a trail to a place known as the Fairy Lochs south of Gairloch, an upland site of a USAAF  Liberator bomber crash in 1945.  Surprisingly there was still a quantity of wreckage strewn about, a sad memorial to the crew and passengers on their way home to the USA towards the end of WW2.  Birds were limited to Red-throated Diver, Common Buzzard, Cuckoo, Bullfinch, Blackcap and the usual Willow Warblers.

We then stepped on to a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) for a pelagic in search of cetaceans and sea-birds around the Shiant Isles.  The forecast was for showers but these didn't materialise.  However that was mostly irrelevant as a ride on the RIB quickly soaked us as we powered out at over 25 knots in very grey gloomy conditions.  Sea-birds zooming about included several Storm Petrels and a small number of Manx Shearwaters.  On arrival the upper heights of the islands were shrouded in low cloud and the viewing and photographic opportunities were sadly diminished.  No cetaceans appeared in the heavy swell so we concentrated on the birds.  Literally thousands of Puffins swarmed around us and it was frustrating that the conditions were so challenging for photography.

The Puffins and other sea-birds attracted predators in the shape of Great Black-backed Gulls, Bonxies, Common Buzzard, Raven and a juvenile White-tailed Eagle.  Guillemots, Razorbills, Fulmars and Kittiwakes competed with the Puffins for air-space.  The only mammals were Common Seals.  And then a very bumpy and wet ride back to Gairloch!

This afternoon and evening saw us walking the hills and moorlands south of Gairloch in almost humid, still conditions.  The exposed expanse attracted Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Sand Martin, Skylark, Dunlin and Common Sandpiper as breeders but little else.


Neil and Eleanor


'Bridled' Guillemots


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