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The Highlands and Islands Thread (1 Viewer)

Gavo

Well-known member
My wife and I have booked to go to Mull on the 10th June for 3 days, have just been reading about the Glen Seilisdeir white tailed sea eagle trip, has anybody been on this, and does it guarantee views?

Can't comment haven't done it.

There is a boat trip you can do that takes you out into the loch and usually a wte comes to take fish thrown out for it. Its a stunning experience. http://www.mullcharters.com/index.html. It is well worth the money.

Also what's the chances of connecting with short eared owl and golden eagle on the island?

High, especially on the road between Craignure and Pennyghael.

There is a small book by David Sexton and Philip Snow about birdwatching on Mull that would be useful for you.

Cheers

Phil

Thanks hampers, much appreciated :t:
 

Gavo

Well-known member
I wonder why if he's been jailed before for the same offence why he only got 6 months! Glad he was caught and convicted.


Phil

I assume that's the maximum term? In my opinion 6 years would'nt be long enough :C
 

alan kennedy

Well-known member
I've never seen so many wheatears in Morvern before. They're everywhere, including the garden.

Anyone else noticed this out west?

Alan
 

David Whitaker

David Whitaker
Northern Wheatears

I've never seen so many wheatears in Morvern before. They're everywhere, including the garden.

Anyone else noticed this out west?

Alan

They were almost certainly Greenland Wheatears (the leuchora race). There are large numbers on passage throughout the Highlands at the moment. I had one in Glen Mallie earlier today, 7 by Loch Arkaig yesterday (plus a white wagtail also on passage), 8 or 10 in Glen Roy the day before and over 50 in the glen one day in May last year. They are very difficult to separate in the field from the local breeding population. A bit bigger and browner, best clues they are not territorial and often happy to sit about in groups when the local males would be tearing lumps out of each other. Inland they often frequent wet heath, (rank heather, cotton grass and purple moorgrass), unlike the local birds have a stong preference for short cropped turf. I think that they stand out more these days as the local breeding population has now gone from many inland areas. Its sad but I see very many more leuchora wheatears in my neck of the woods.
 

alan kennedy

Well-known member
Thanks David. Very interesting. What you say makes perfect sense. The birds I've seen in the garden appear to be bigger and less flighty, although to my eye they appear paler rather than more brown.

Alan
 

jpoyner

Well-known member
Scotland
I think that some of the Mipits going through now are also "northern" birds, had one today feeding alone which looked very different to local birds, I've seen this type often on the west coast in May also. I think they appear much darker on the back, almost Rock Pipit like at a glance, and very heavily streaked with quite thick spots running right down to the belly. The chin often looks almost a peachy colour, and in size I would say larger. I have had this debate often about these Mipits encountered on the coasts in May and can't find much in the literature about "greenland" race mipits, though I suspect that's what these birds are and to my eye are quite distinct from our local birds.
 

Ddack

Well-known member
If cairngorm is still covered in snow will carn ban mor be the same,apologies if this is stupid question.if not how do you get to where the ptarmigan and dotterel will be,if both of these are covered in snow anyone know of where i may get dotterel on any other hills that is well known of.
 

jpoyner

Well-known member
Scotland
If cairngorm is still covered in snow will carn ban mor be the same,apologies if this is stupid question.if not how do you get to where the ptarmigan and dotterel will be,if both of these are covered in snow anyone know of where i may get dotterel on any other hills that is well known of.

More than likely unless there is a considerable thaw, Carn Ban More is still pretty high at 1049m. Snow level is currently at about 600-700m. This seems unlikely to thaw much before the weekend going on current forecasts. Dotterel are pretty hard to track down until the snow starts to clear from the traditional sites to be honest, they must hang out somewhere but I've yet to find it! Conditions above 1000m are still pretty dodgy and need winter hill walking experience to tackle safely. Best bet for Ptarmigan is around the ski areas on Cairngorm.

Looking at the long range forecast current wintry conditions seem to persist until about 20th with further snow showers on the hills. After that it does seem there is a chance of quite a considerable warm up. If this comes off then my guess is there will be a pretty rapid thaw during last week of May with most snow gone by beginning of June. Potentially June looks like coming in with some fine warm summer weather! Wait and see!
 
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IanF

Moderator
We were up by the ski lifts this morning. Just sat in the car for about an hour we saw - Ring Ouzel 6-8, Red Grouse, Ptarmigan, Merlin, Raven x4, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Willow Warbler.

We had some snow overnight and the snow line today was just above the car park.
 

Ian Lewis

aka Gryllo
Europe
Hi, I wonder if anyone on this forum can help us. We are having a Scottish holiday from 6th - 16th June. We plan to drive from Edinburgh to Knapdale in hope to see the introduced beavers, to Fort william (Checkered Skipper) and on to Skye (boat trip for White-tailed Eagle). Then we head for North Uist for Corncrake and breeding waders before heading to Speyside. It is this area we have the least up to date gen on.

Can anyone help with sites for Scottish Crossbill and hopefully Parrot Crossbill, Black Grouse and Capercaille (the Loch Garten lek will be over by then)? If we hike up to the Cairngorm summit are the chances of Ptarmigan and Dotterel good or is Carr Ban Moor the best bet?

Many thanks Ian and Margaret Lewis
 

gordon hamlett

Well-known member
trip report april 2012

Only a month late but here's a quick report of trip to Sutherland and Speyside in the last two weeks of April


Leaving Norfolk at the ungodly hour of 3am, a Barn Owl within the first five minutes got the holiday off to an excellent start but we didn't see another bird until we reached North Yorkshire. Our first major stop was for a walk along the river at Jedburgh. We weren’t too bothered about missing Dipper here but I had hoped for Nuthatch and Blackcap here.

Lunch at Vane Farm added a good selection of wildfowl and our first Osprey, just as well as we then got thrown out the Loch of the Lowes! They have a reciprocal arrangement with the English wildlife trusts, every county that is apart from Norfolk so our membership cards were useless.

We were just staying at the Grant Arms for a night before heading further north but I had offered to lead a walk round Lochindorb on the Saturday morning. Dodging the showers, we had a brilliant time with Red Grouse sitting atop the heather, wonderful views of both Red and Black-throated Divers, a fishing Osprey and a Hen Harrier quartering the moors behind us. A Swallow looked as if it was regretting its decision to migrate so early.

Heading up towards Tescos in Inverness to top up on supplies, we stopped off at Nairn harbour where Chris immediately found an Iceland Gull, part of last winter’s record-breaking influx. Seventy Sandwich Terns and our first Long-tailed Ducks added to the scene.

We were staying in a cottage in Lairg, an excellent base for exploring Sutherland and Caithness. An easy trip eastwards takes you to Loch Fleet where waders included Greenshank, Bar-tailed Godwit and Knot as well as a couple more Ospreys and several skeins of Pink-footed Geese heading north. The tiny hamlet of Embo, curiously twinned with somewhere in Hawaii, is a great seawatching spot and we found a good selection of seaducks together with a number of Purple Sandpipers and Turnstones on the rocks.

A long day exploring exploring Caithness and the Flow Country started well with another Hen Harrier, this time at Forsinard RSPB. Another Iceland Gull at Thurso was quickly followed by a superb Glaucous Gull at Dunnet Bay where the gull theme continued when Chris re-found the Bonaparte’s Gull that had been wintering in the area. The sea at Dunnet Head, the most northerly point of the British mainland was remarkably calm and provided excellent views of seabirds including good numbers of Puffins.

A friend had marked my card that the area beyond Kinlochbervie was well worth exploring. We had only been to KLB once and had been put off by the presence of the Russian fishing fleet. What a gem. There are fantastic bays and beaches at Oldshoremore and the next headland round. Several Great Northern Divers were close inshore, along with their two commoner cousins. Black Guillemots were numerous. Ravens and Peregrines tussled overhead and there had been a fall of Wheatears – about three weeks late,

As we continued towards Durness, my attention was drawn to three large raptors close to the main road. Pulling over, we jumped out of the car and I focussed on the first bird. Golden Eagle I shouted. A quick scan of the other two birds revealed that they were same size as the first two. Three Goldies in the same field of view, and at unbelievably close range too. A real once in a life time experience.

Loch Eriboll has traditionally been a good place for good numbers of Great Northern Divers, but as soon as we approached, we suffered a whiteout, not from snow but from the most amazing hailstorm. The landscape appeared totally in monochrome, with an inch of white covering the ground in less than five minutes against a totally black sky. Useless for birding but a spectacular and decidedly frightening vista.

Instead, we headed on towards Tongue where, after the weather had eased, I found another couple of Goldies over Ben Hope, our first Common Sandpiper of the year, more Greenshanks and a flock of Redwings. Heading home, we see another couple of large birds of prey. Lightning couldn’t strike twice could it? No, the first bird was only a Buzzard. Hang on a minute though, the second bird doesn’t appear to have a tail. It’s the unmistakeable profile of a White-tailed Eagle, a juvenile bird that has presumably overwintered in the valley. A memorable end to a six-eagle day. Bad weather doesn’t necessarily mean bad birding. Stop as soon as the rain does and wait for the birds to come out.

There were reports of two interesting scoters at Portmahomack so we toddled off for a look. Sure enough, there was a large flock of ducks on the sea but instead of the presumed scoters, they turned out to be hundreds of Long-tailed Ducks. I’ve never seen such a big flock before. We found the scoters at long last and started to scan through them, a job not made any easier by the fact that birds were constantly joining and leaving the flock. Fortunately, the sea was calm and we eventually picked out a Surf Scoter and American Black Scoter among the hundreds of Common Scoters.

A quick trip over the peninsula to Nigg Bay RSPB looked promising, with hundreds of birds in front of the hide. Hundreds that is for about 30 seconds until an RAF fighter screamed over scattering them to the winds. The birds returned in dribs and drabs for the next hour or so and things were looking really good again when an Osprey flew over love and scattered them again. Taking the hint, we left and headed home via Lochbuie, a delightful minor road on the south side of Loch Fleet. Nothing much was showing until the far end of the road when a Merlin shot over the bonnet of the car.

Time to relocate back to the Grant Arms and naturally, we didn’t take the obvious route, heading instead over to Ullapool and Beinn Eighe. Several Great Skuas added an air of menace and we picked up another Golden Eagle at Dundonnell. The hoped-for White-tailed Eagle was absent from Gruinard, but be did hear one brief ‘cuckoo’ from miles away – the only one of the holiday.

Sunday, and I took a group of hotel guests down the Findhorn Valley, my favourite place and no hardship whatsoever. Two Golden Eagles showed for most of the morning, giving good, albeit distant views. Chris found Ring Ouzels for us all and we enjoyed wonderful telescope views of the the deer and goats. For many, the highlight was an interesting bit of behaviour. A Buzzard flew lazily over the valley, carrying food. A Peregrine shot off the cliff face, attacking it in no uncertain terms, forcing the Buzzard to drop its prey and beat a hasty retreat.

In the afternoon, Loch Ruthven held several Slavonian Grebes and a Red-throated Diver. A Red Kite flew over but the Osprey I had promised everyone between 3pm and 4pm obviously decided to go fishing elsewhere.

I don’t normally go twitching, but I had been following the whereabouts of a Greater Yellowlegs – a rare American wader for months. As it was still at Loch of Strathbeg, it seemed mean not to go and see it. The rest of the week was both windy and showery. Unfortunately, the showers lasted from 6am-6pm and then from 6pm-6am. Coming back via Lochindorb one afternoon, the road was almost entirely under water.

Still, the cakes at the Potting Shed were wonderful, and we did manage excellent views of Capercaillies at Loch Garten, much to the chagrin of some guests who had gone to the 5am ‘Caper Watch’ and not seen a thing. A trip up to Spey Bay produced one final bonus in the form of a Ross’s Goose, in a field with hundreds of Pinkfeet just outside Forres.

The holiday finished on just over 140 species, an excellent total considering what we didn’t see. The weather had really held back the migrants and we missed birds like Grasshopper Warbler, Tree Pipit and Whinchat which we had had at the same time last year. Similarly, we didn’t find Ptarmigan, Black Grouse and, surprisingly, Grey Wagtail. Never mind, we’ll just have to come back again...

Gordon
 

DMKSlater

Well-known member
Great report Gordon, Nice to meet you in the Grant Arms, see you up here again soon and hopefully will make it to your talk next time.

Dave
 

Sandy Leng

Well-known member
Next Tuesday myself and a mate are riding our motorbikes from the midlands to catch the evening ferry from Skye to Harris. We are booked to go to St. Kilda on Wednesday.

Has anybody any experience of this trip? It would be great if someone could give us an idea of the birds and other wildlife we may be able to see at this time of year.

We have only got time for a short trip and will be riding home on Friday, but weather permitting we should have a full day to explore Harris and Lewis on Thursday. Any advice on the best places to visit for great scenery and wildlife would be most welcome.

Thanks in advance.
 

Touche

Well-known member
Rfi

Hello

I'm heading up to Fort William later this month for a walking weekend with non-birding friends, and was wondering what I can expect bird/butterfly-wise in the Ben Nevis/The Ring of Steall area? Hoping for a Ptarmigan and some obliging snow bunts plus an eagle or two.

Also, is there a good site for Pine Marten (preferably near a pub! B :)) in the area? A mammal that has eluded me on a previous trip north of Hadrian's Wall!

I'd be very grateful for any gen via PM.

Thanks, Rob.
 

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