Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Busy Day

With today's weather set to be the best during our week long stay Dee and I took full advantage with a complete itinerary: First on the list was a trip on the ferry to the Isle of Mull and back.

Winter plumage Guillemot 
The weather centre got it spot on as we departed Oban harbour with a flat calm sea and cloudless skies. The usual Black Guillemots were in the harbour sporting their winter colours, along with the odd winter plumage Guillemot and plenty of Shag and our first Cormorants on the rocky crags. Although the sailing was very enjoyable I must say that the birding was a disappointment. A single Razorbill was recorded in flight and surprisingly even Gulls were sparse but Great Black-backed, Herring and Common Gull were all recorded. 

View from the ferry - Snow has arrived on the Scottish mountains.
During the turnaround at Craignure Oystercatcher, Curlew, Grey HeronRock Pipit and other than Common Eider and Red-breasted Merganser no other sea ducks or divers were seen during the trip, although Harbour Porpoise on route back to Oban was great to see.

Seal at Loch Feochan.
After a late breakfast in Wetherpoon's we set off back south stopping off at Loch Feochan. Here the usual selection of Oystercatcher and Curlew and this time with the addition of a really pristine looking Greenshank. Another addition to the holiday list was a Harbour Seal, which entertained itself with a huge fish.

Sea Lock entrance onto Loch Crinan
We'd planned to arrive at the Scottish Beaver Trial area a few hours before sunset, having seen Beavers in Canada several times we thought this would be the best plan, Beavers being very nocturnal by nature. So with a little time on our hands we drove along the nearby Crinan Canal down to the sea lock. An opportunity here for a look across Loch Crinan, which is an open sea loch at the mouth of the Add Estuary. Here (3) Black-throated Divers, more Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Eider and Goldeneye, along with a single Harbour Seal was the reward. Dee spent her time exploring the lock.

Looking for Beavers as dusk arrives!
The reintroduction of Beavers to the wild in Scotland for the first time in 400 years has been an "outstanding success", according to the team of ecologists that brought them back. The four pairs of Beavers reintroduced in Knapdale five years ago have produced 14 young. The trial is now complete and a decision as to whether the Beavers will stay here or not will be taken later in 2015. With this in mind time is running out and so Dee and I spent a few hours towards dusk on the lookout at Loch Coille Bharr. During the 5 kilometer walk and two hour vigil birds of note included Crossbill, Siskin, Goldcrest, many Chaffinch and several Long-tailed Tit flocks but did we see a Beaver?

No Beavers but plenty of evidence their about!
Sadly not, this despite a two hour vigil and returning to the car in compete darkness, a bit of a hair raising experience in itself. However, the calling Tawny Owls and the amazing sight of fourteen Whooper Swans calling and silhouetted against the moon lit sky was well worth while.