West Coast Part 1...
I'm just back from an excellent 'staycation' week on the west coast with Dazza, staying at a working farm cottage near the village of Ford, around 45 minutes south of Oban. Really comfortable accommodation, if not a little rustic, with stunning views, lots of woodlands to explore all alongside Lochs Awe and Ederline.
The weather for the early part of the week was mainly sunny with occasional showers, which thankfully we managed to avoid on most days, but with a chilly northerly airflow. However, from Thursday the weather deteriorated somewhat, becoming wet & windy with temperatures struggling to reach double figures.
|Wood Warbler ~ Scarce for Aberdeenshire but several seen and heard during our week in the west.|
|Black Guillemots ~ Always a treat to find then around Oban Harbour.|
Sunday, May 16th: Our first full day was spent visiting Oban shopping and sightseeing, thankfully managing to avoid some hefty showers. The harbour here is always a great place to find Black Guillemots and at this time of year they can be found nesting around the harbour walls, so we spent some time watching them come and go.
|The 'Atlantic' or Clachan Bridge linking Seil Island to the mainland.|
Monday, May 17th: A day visiting two of the 'slate Islands' Seil & Luing. Seil is linked to the mainland by the Atlantic Bridge. An interesting looking bridge 72ft wide and is steeply humped to provide clearance above high water of 28ft to avoid obstructing the passage of small vessels.
|A nice find was this nesting Whinchat on Seil Island|
Luing Island on the other hand is accessed by a small ferry and takes less than 10 minutes to cross, the ferry has room for 3/4 cars.
|One of several Wheatears around the Islands ~ This one at the old quarry|
|Early Purple Orchid on the Isle of Luing|
An enjoyable day with Cuckoo's calling and showing occasionally, during most of our stops. Wheatears too were plentiful and a stop off at the old slate quarry found a number of Early Purple Orchids. The whole area is awash with Bluebells and during the odd sunny period a number of Orange Tip Butterflies were noted.
Tuesday, May 18th: Our plans today included a stop off a Moine Mhor, one of Britains last remaining raised bogs, a visit to the Crinan Canal, always a pleasure to reminisce about canals and a visit to Taynish NNR. Sadly, Moine Mhor was a complete right-off, with idiot dogwalkers and I'm not even going to waste time writing about this increasingly worrying disregard for wildlife and their habitat by a growing minority of dog owners, sufficed to say they got a good piece of my mind!
|Spotted Flycatcher ~ Crinan Woods|
At Crinan we enjoyed a long walk along the canal and took the steep climb up around the local woods. The canal, which opened in 1801, takes its name from the village of Crinan at its western end.
Approximately nine miles (14 km) long, the canal connects the village of Ardrishaig on Loch Gilp with the Sound of Jura, providing a navigable route between the Clyde and the Inner Hebrides.
|The recent emergence of Four-spotted Chaser|
From Crinan a short drive to Taynish NNR an ancient oak woodland, with marsh, meadows and a freshwater loch. Our visit here was more about the Odanata & Butterflies than the birding, which was particularly quiet. Plenty of Four-spotted Chaser and Large Red Damselflies were on the wing, along with a few Speckled Wood and Peacock Butterflies.
A wonderful array of plants too with Wood Sorrel, Bogbean, Greater Stitchwort and Hare's Tail Cotton Grass.