Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Scotland Journey Pt 7 - Otters, Divers & Lekking Grouse

Had an early start, up at 5am and found the car needed de-icing as it was -4c.The plan was to get to a local lekking area not long after sunrise.
The sun though was beating us.
The road to Fort William at 6.30am.
We made it up to the area we had seen Black Grouse in last year.
This sheep was enjoying the morning view.(Photo by Majella Fox.)
Almost immediately there were 2 Black Grouse on the hillside, just feeding and not looking too bothered with each other.Within 10 minutes another 8 had arrived to the leks causing a brief spell of confrontation before they all flew off to a distant tree.:(
It was still early so thought I would go see if any otters were about in Loch Linnhe.
This Greater Black Backed Gull arrived first though with a fish breakfast.
 An otter then appeared on one of the islands, ignoring the Grey Heron and leaving spraint on one of the rocks before swimming in our direction ,then disappearing from sight in the nearby bank where we know a holt is.
From further up River Lochy a second otter came into view.It swam past the first island and the guls and oystercatchers straight to where the first otter had left spraint.After a quick check on the deposit it swam to the edge of the island where it spent a half hour fishing.
We decided to head to Ardnamurchan but by driving around Loch Eil & Linnhe.The temperature still hadn't risen much and the loch shore was lined with ice.(Photos by Majella Fox)
A boat in the calm icy waters of Loch Eil.
An Oystercatcher trying to find some unfrozen ground amongst the ice on the shore.
As we turned south down Loch Linnhe I noticed a bird midway on the loch that didn't look like a Shag or Cormorant.Then there were two.On closer inspection it turned out to be two stunning Red Throated Divers.
With Oystercatchers,Mergansers,Little Grebes,Shags,Wigeon and Goldeneye we were getting to a point where we were stopping in every other layby(passing place;))
Next to catch my eye was some shape on the rocks near a jetty.It was a Harbour Seal, and a pretty laid back one at that.It managed to find the effort to lift its head to check us out then thought, can't be bothered and just went back to sleep catching the suns rays..
Lunch at Strontian was followed by a quick trip to Loch Sunart and the Garbh Eilean hide.There were more seals here along with Mergansers, Rock Pipits, Oystercatchers and numerous Grey Herons probably from the local Heronry on the island.
The Heronry.Yes, there are some herons in the photo if you can find them;)
An Oystercatcher on Loch Sunart.
We headed back to Fort William via the Corran ferry and its 5 minute crossing, much calmer than our last trip over the loch last year.

Another Highland Cow photo from the farm to end the blog with.

Total Bird List for trip -
61.Black Grouse(New for 2014) 62.Red Throated Diver(New for 2014)

Tomorrow will be spent in the Cairngorms with the evening ending at Speyside Wildlife hide with our friend to hopefully view Pine Marten and Badgers.

Thanks for reading:)

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