Sunday, June 17, 2007

Boulmer Birder Bumper Holiday Special...


Ardnamurchan, West Highlands...

Hello again, we are back now after a lovely week away from it all in the west of Scotland. Unlike the rest of the UK, the West Highlands basked in lovely sunshine with light winds for the whole of our week. The worst we faced was some lightly overcast skies and a few drops of drizzle on Tuesday evening at dusk. After this, sun tans, heat haze and midgies were the order of the day. The second half of the week was a bit cooler, making the air even clearer and the midgies less aggressive.

We spent our time walking and relaxing, taking in the scenery and wildlife at our leisure, and very nice it was too.

Click on any picture to see a larger image.





Above - Our base, a cottage in Arevegaig. Very homely and nicely remote, set in its own large gardens.




The access road over Kentra Moss, a large peat bog, covered in cotton grass and sedges. Not a sound could be heard from this road, not even a car engine. Only the displaying Lesser Redpolls, Meadow Pipits and Cuckoos broke the silence.





In our garden were two bird tables. The visitors book said that Pine Martens had been regular visitors to the food put out so, as this was one of my main reasons for visiting this part of Scotland, I couldn't believe my luck. Out went bread with jam or marmalade or peanut butter or even mashed banana and sometimes a mixture of the lot in the hope of attracting a view of this shy creature. During the subsequent evenings we were visited on four of them, best of all by two Pine Martens together on Thursday resulting in some frantic chasing and chattering around then much scent marking before they took a table each and finished the meal. Timings were irregular and could be anywhere from 6.30pm until dark at 11.15pm. These pics were taken at about 10pm hence the blurring through the kitchen window where the animals were down to 6 feet away. One of my absolute highlights watching wild creatures.




Other visitors includes many Siskins including family parties and two Wood Mice, this poor devil only had one eye...



This is an Emperor Moth caterpillar found just outside the cottage on the Moss...




Cuckoos were every where during the first few days then strangely disappeared. This one was mobbed by a Meadow Pipit just outside the garden.






Some of the lovely views from the area looking towards Eigg, Rhum and Skye...






These four are Small Pearl Bordered Fritillaries. Tremendous little butterflies and we saw them at serveral roadside stops, but one was even in our cottage garden...



Large Heath Butterflies were common on the moss around the cottage. They are of the form polydama and seem to be on the wing several weeks earlier than in Northumberland. Also here were 6+ Green Hairstreaks, 1 Speckled Wood and 1 Dark Green Fritillary...




Common Sandpipers and Tiger Beetles were found nearby. Dragonflies were impossible to photograph as they didnt land for more than a split second. We had good numbers of Gold-ringed Dragonfly and 4-spotted Chaser, with hoardes of Large Red Damsels.



Red Deer were common, with 50+ along the Ardnamurchan Penninsular. We also had a female Otter and her cub and a sub adult Golden Eagle showing well here. Another Otter was seen on the moss near the cottage.





On the Moss, Heath Spotted Orchid, Sundews and Butterworts, the latter two are both carnivorous plants.




Hooded Crow with a fledgling. The adult seemed to be guiding it to food.




The coastal hay meadows were full of wild flowers, such as these Ragged Robin.



One of the highlights slightly further afield was this Chequered Skipper butterfly. This is the only area in the UK where this species can be found. This one was on the roadside six miles NE of Ardgour on the shores of Loch Linne. It was on tiny garden daisies, the type found in lawns, for a good size comparison. While I trudged off into a woodland clearing, Jane found this one where I had parked the car. Typical.



This hut was at Sanna, a beautiful sandy cove at Ardnamurchan point and miles from any built up area. The nearest supermarket is at Fort William, 70 miles away! Good to see that George Bush hasn't passed the crofters by...



Always end on a sunset. This was over Kentra Bay from our garden looking at Eigg and Rhum. A belter. Oh well, work in the morning...

7 comments:

Ian F said...

Treeemendous! Well gripped!

Darren H said...

Great report and I'm jealous about your Pine Martin sightings. Ive yet to see one never mind four!!

brian r said...

Great trip report, and a wide range of species to enjoy.Nice one Stewart.

Anonymous said...

Where exactly is this amazing place an who rents the cottage. I want to go there.

Boulmer Birder said...

http://www.unique-cottages.co.uk/cottages/westcoast/argyll/allt_beithe_cottage

Try the website for bookings...

Cheers all, S...

st said...

varry nice,
nearly went that way, well skye direction but weather forcast weren't good so headed for the sun.

Blyth Birder said...

We're booked into a cottage for a week in Ardnamurchan (Glenborrodale)the first week in September. To say I'm looking forward to escaping the madding crowd is an understatement.

Sods Law says North'd will be enjoying fall conditions while I'm over on the opposite coast mind you........