Friday, 29 July 2016

Two weeks in Scotland

For many years now we have had two weeks holiday in Scotland in May, bad luck with weather caused a rethink this year and we opted to move to a bit later in the year.

With a week each in Grantown on Spey and then Torloisk on the Isle of Mull there was much to look forward to as we took a familiar route north. Our first cottage was just outside Grantown on Spey and close to a moorland, a short drive took us to Lochindorb which proved to be a constantly reliable site for ospreys, not close but unmistakeable and a great start! and puffins in the second week!

Out on the water a black throated diver

Fingers crossed we would get closer sightings as the week progressed!

Being close to Loch Garten we called in regularly and even if the osprey action was a bit slow there are usually great spotted woodpeckers about.

...and a male siskin came in close

A panorama of Lochindorb during a rare sunny spell

A drive to Loch Ruthven proved well worthwhile, an early glimpse of an osprey raised expectation levels and out on the loch a relatively rare slavonian grebe stayed tantalisingly far away!

Then a pair of ospreys, magnificent birds and we were entranced as they dived not too far away, unsuccessful as the dives were still a wonderful sight to witness.

At Loch Garten we found a roe deer

and some goldeneye youngsters who numbers were evidently diminishing as they fell victim to the large pike which inhabit the loch, wildlife can be savage at times!

The Loch Garten ospreys appeared now and again...

We happened to be at Lochindorb at just the right time to see the black throated diver a bit closer.

Strathconnon is a remote glen north west of Inverness, 17 miles long and a wildlife haven with some patience. We saw golden eagles soaring distantly, buzzards were numerous and hobby was chasing swallows. We then saw a large group of red deer stags, they spend summer together up here and were in the "velvet" stage with their antlers.

We counted approximately seventy stags, a magnificent sight!

Chanonry Point is one our favourite places to see bottlenose dolphins, it can be busy with many photographers claiming a prime spot and it can take time and patience but it can also be spectacular.
On our visit just one adult with a juvenile came in but it was still a very special experience!

Loch Insh is a small RSPB reserve near Aviemore and is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Some warblers

Roe deer hind
A final Lochindorb trip and another look at the black throated diver

The journey westwards was one to forget as rain poured heavily, the high passes had strong gusts of wind and concentration was high but we managed an incident free arrival at Oban ready for the ferry to Mull.

The weather calmed and the crossing was a bit damp for those who prefer the outside decks but a nice switch off from driving.

Our cottage at Torloisk was a few miles above the Ulva Ferry turning and set next to a lovely deciduous wood, a sighting of golden eagle from the cottage gave rise to much optimism.

White tailed sea eagles are not too difficult to spot when they perch in open view!

Grey herons abound on loch shores

Oystercatchers too!

We booked a boat trip with Turus Mara, great company, to visit the Treshnish Isles with landings on Staffa and Lunga. We love the open sea and the feeling of peace the sounds of the waves bring is incredible.

Approaching Staffa the entrance to the famous Fingles Cave comes into view.

We enjoyed a walk around the isle and then re-boarded for the next leg.

Looking out from Lunga shoreline...

One of the reasons for the trip was the plentiful numbers of puffins, amazingly trustful and even inquisitive they are great fun to watch and photograph.

Great skuas were on patrol hoping to find vulnerable prey

The next day we enjoyed a superb female hen harrier sighting, the second shot shows a lapwing harassing the harrier.

A white tailed sea eagle also gets harassed, this time by corvids!

Golden eagle adults are a bit tatty at this time of year as they go through a moult after the raising of young, they are still a magnificent sight!

Plagued by grey skies it was getting frustrating trying to get some colour in the shots!

We had some patient and lengthy searches for otters and with only a couple of days to go we decided to concentrate at a favoured spot by Loch na Keal...patience pays, one of the things I try to teach people is sticking with patience, lose it and people become over eager and fall into bad habits whether life or wildlife.

You also need luck though and eventually we got some!


The next day was even better...

Red deer hinds

Golden eagle, so brilliant to watch...

and then we got lucky or our patience paid with another otter, this one much lighter coloured...

and to round the holiday off a buzzard with a rabbit kill....

Another holiday where the weather could have been better, but the wildlife sightings were just superb.

Many thanks to all who read, please don't forget if you do comment that they come to me first for moderation before they appear on the blog.