Wednesday, 12 October 2016

A week on Arran in early September 2016

We do a lot of research before we book our self catering cottages for holidays, the wildlife potential probably being the most important aspect. We had not visited the Isle of Arran for many years and our last visit was a walking/hillwalking trip, great wildlife reports from the Isle prompted us to do some searching for the best areas and after some study we located a cottage at Lochranza that looked perfect.

The journey north is usually not too bad, and after a steady drive we boarded our ferry and enjoyed a good sail onto the Isle. Cottage located fairly easily after a short drive and sightings of red deer stags from our front garden!

Not a bad start! And it got better, we had scattered a few peanuts for the red squirrels the owners advised us of...and the badgers which were in light too dark for photographs but they were so delightful to see and led to us having to refresh our peanut supplies!

I had made contact with excellent Arran Birding website and arranged to send all my sightings into them, these local groups do a great job recording all the species that are resident or seasonal or just occasional passage birds.

We had a good start to our first morning....

Red breasted mergansers in less than good light

And a jewel encrusted shrub from overnight rain and the incredible hard work that spiders do!

Given my love of birds of prey and a good location that was advised it was inevitable we would check it out.

Female hen harrier, very distant so very heavily cropped...
 A local beach had ringed plover

...and dunlin

Back at Lochranza the harbour area was very photogenic

And a red squirrel scampered around the cottage :-)

Our explorations found us a group of curlew with a common gull wandering across...

A single curlew

and turnstones

another ringed plover

Always plenty of gannets about...

and hooded crows!

Lochranza harbour...

Red deer hinds by the cottage...

A recommended otter site turned up a cormorant with a large flatfish catch...


....and curlew, no otters on this occasion but hope is never lost!

Dunlin were numerous on occasions

And the red squirrels were always a delight to see!

Diving gannets!!

Murky light but wonderful!

We kept calling at our favoured point for raptors and were rewarded with a buzzard coming in very close...

Red deer hinds in Lochranza...

Our cheeky squirrel!

With badger sightings every night this was turning into a great trip, little did we suspect how much better it would get!

Still in the cottage and a lazy morning in the offing, sightings of huge birds on the hill behind us made for a swift passage of feet into shoes, camera settings basic check and a dash...when golden eagles are about there is no time to waste!!!

Magnificent birds that set the heart racing and a memorable experience!

But our last day was not done, the plan after consulting tide tables was to head to a little bay where otters could be around...our second visit and as experienced otter watchers we know all the things to look otters!

Josie spotted a tail splash, often the first sign of them and we enjoyed some lovely sightings...

A pair gradually worked their way away from us and we returned to the car for lunch, but....Josie spotted another otter and close...

We walked quietly down on the beach, only moving when the otter was diving...the little beauty was just yards away, popping up like a cork after a dive and totally comfortable with our presence and the clicking of my camera!

An eye watering experience I can tell you! We walked away as quietly as we had approached, just thankful that nature continues to reward our patience.

So after that anything else would be an anti-climax? Well not really, we stopped at our raptor watch and Josie went off for a wander...something, instinct maybe told me to watch this bird, very high and too vertically above me to get my scope on it. I dashed to the car and grabbed the camera, fired off a few shots into the grey cloud. Initial checks were inconclusive, but enhancement later disclosed an osprey, one of only a couple or so that pass over Arran in autumn and their first seasonal sighting.

 A last sighting...golden eagle being harassed by buzzards, a good example of the size scale...

What a superb holiday on a quality little island, friendly people, great wildlife and typical weather for Scotland, we go three times a year so it can't be that bad!

Our love of wildlife in wild situations continues to grow, and the badgers turned up every night, superb.

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

Catching up and a local blog soon!


  1. Fantastic wildlife pictures. Particularly enjoyed the deer and squirrels.

  2. A stunning location for your holiday and beautiful photos as always. Jill

  3. Arran is indeed a great island for wildlife, we remember deer sitting unperturbed on the grass at Lochranza when we were there too, one of several visits over the years to this lovely island. I think one of my favourite shots was the turnstones. Well captured photo of the cormorant and its flatfish catch, and the lovely red squirrels. Pleased to report that our reds seem to be doing well this year, daily sightings in our garden after fears for them over the past couple of years when they became a little less frequent, How exciting to see eagles and of course, memorable and beautiful otter sightings. Altogether, a fantastic array of wildlife,

  4. Arran looks a lovely island. Some great wildlife. Lovely to see the Otters

  5. Great local blog Dave, keep it up.