Sunday, 23 June 2013

Put the wildlife on hold I'm off to the chocolate shop...

Pheasants get more protection than native Buzzards, an interesting article regarding the mass number of game birds reared in the UK every year.  

The new National Wildlife Crime Unit website is up and running...

An interesting piece regarding the effect overfishing has on jellyfish and the overall knock on effect... 

Live raptor web cams provide great entertainment, especially if the raptors have been illegally persecuted from your local area taking away that opportunity to see them out in the field...

SLS highlights in the last few weeks have included breaching basking sharks producing good air time, which has to be one of Britain's best wildlife spectacles. The behaviour is thought to be for courtship purposes although, for the removal of parasites is also a theory. The minke whales have been working big areas of sea and common dolphins are building in numbers and consistency. Harbour porpoise have been showing well in small numbers with the first calves seen and even breaching witnessed back in May. 
Our coastal eagles eyrie's are in good health with a WTE eaglet at 8-9 weeks old preparing for the big day. A goldie territory on the mainland side has at least one chick in with adult birds showing very well. On the sea bird front arctic tern numbers at quite small on the north side of coll along with kittiwakes. Manx shearwater have been seen in their thousands on some trips and an increase in storm petrel sightings compared to my three previous seasons is a positive. great skuas seen daily and arctic skuas also seen on occasions as well.

Common Dolphin and Calf

A good spell of weather in mid June got everything going and a rare day off for SLS crew encouraged us to do a wild walk on the isle. Richie rich, Beth and Struth present as we started a woodland walk which consisted of mixed deciduous trees coming into foliage. A Treecreeper was seen scurrying up a Birch tree as we made our way to the shoreline of Loch Ba. 
Common Sandpipers very vocal around the loch and a Common Buzzard soaring overhead. Willow and Wood Warbler heard around the woodlands as we made our way towards the higher ground following the stream up. We came about a wash pool with a 5 foot depth to it and as the temperature was a scorching 20 degrees plus we could not resist a dip to refresh ourselves. 
As we made it towards the tree line the bracken and rocky erratics provided good habitat for Adders on the south facing hillside, a good search came to no avail as I am yet to find my own snakes in four seasons on the isle. Golden ringed Dragonfly and Four-spotted Chaser were seen near the stream as we headed towards the higher burnt landscape remains from the out of control blaze back in April. The 300m summit gave great views looking west down Loch Ba and Loch na Keal. Looking down on the well managed Ben More estate kept me thinking all day 'what would I do if I had my own playground like this?'

Wash pool discovered in deciduous woodland...

View over Loch Ba

A camping session on Saturday eve as the smashing weather rolled into the weekend. Lewy and Paddy arranged to pitch up by Eas falls near Ulva. Present was Me, Richie, Struth, Winky, Sharky and Beth. Lewy cooked local venison stew for us all as we had a few drinks by the fire. Richie and I did a spot of photography and I went for a woodland walk to get some kindler and wood for for fire and sat looking out to LNK picking up a RT Diver calling, Otter foraging and Song Thrush signing spectacularly above me with hints of Snipe, Willow Warbler and Woodcock in his melody.
We all fell asleep by the fire listening to some of Lewys classic story telling and with paddy providing some astronomy info. I made a pillow out of moss and had a good nights sleep out in the wilds...u cant beat nature eh! Great night and great company. Thanks to Lewy and Paddy for sorting it all.

Eas Force...

Three Bottlenose Dolphins were seen in the bay one morning showing well with occasional breaching seen. They seemed to be attracted to the moored up Sula Beag for some reason, Great start to a Sunday morning. 

Bottlenose Dolphin breaching next to the moored up Sula Beag

A camping/photography session arranged with Eryn Hooper who was up volunteering with SLS for a fortnight. We pitched up in Glengorm and a mild evening with a light breeze to keep the midge's at bay. Cock Red Grouse were display calling at and we also had woodcock and drumming Snipe. We photographed the light at dusk getting some nice results. We stayed up til half 2 before retreating to the tent and attempting to get up at 4am for sunrise but solid overcast conditions gave us a sleep in as we got up at 8am ready for the days whalewatch. 

Cotton Grass and Sedge up on the hills at dusk looking north

Pitched up for the night

A day off for me and Richie on the Friday provided a perfect opportunity to do some field time on the south of the isle. Richie is lad from Hartlepool who is up working for SLS for the season. We called into Craignure Spar to get a Cornetto and came out with a wild flower book which I could not resist buying, so that would be a big focus for days field session. We started at Grasspoint where we saw a female harrier and a pair of Greenshank. Moving onto Loch Spelve and we saw another female harrier hunting which could mean chicks have hatched in the area. Whinchat and two fledglings seen and also a pair of Reed Bunting and Whitethroat calling. Common Blue feeding on a Heath Spotted Orchid also seen. 

Heath spotted Orchid and Common Blue

We moved onto Loch Buie and Loch Uisg where we enjoyed the Common Gulls and Lapwing and admired the Rhododendron in full bloom on the west side of Uisg. We went through Glenmore and got a Goldie above the skyline before a speeding motorist beeped us on. It baffles me that folk can drive at speed and be oblivious to the stunning surroundings around them. He gave me a naughty hand gesture as I turned into a lay by but I wasn't bothered cos we were on good harrier grounds!
A third female Harrier seen before concentrating on some more roadside orchids along with Birdsfoot-trefoil and foraging on some Pignut. 

We called into see our new local friend Liz who was on board an SLS trip with us earlier in the week. She owns a beautiful house at Gribun looking over Inch Kenneth which she rents out for self accommodation throughout the year along with a house on the Scottish wild west mainland at Loch Doilet. 

Both stunning self accommodation cottages can be found and booked here...

Stag cottage -

Gribun -

Common Dolphins bow work by Andy Tait

Goldie over Ardnamurchan by Andy Tait

Thanks for looking...