Knoydart and Isle of Skye, Scotland, trip report, July 2007


This was a mainly walking (and drinking) trip to the west coast of Scotland with Mike Concannon.

Thursday 5th July - Glen Affric – An Osprey circling over Loch Affric. Invergarry – a Water Shrew watched for 5 minutes hunting around rocks in a stream.

Friday 6th July – Walked 15 miles through mountains from Kinloch Hourn to Inverie on the Knoydart peninsula, where the remotest pub on mainland Britain is; the only way to get to The Old Forge is by boat or this walk (no roads).

It’s worth it, though – a cracking old community pub, with excellent food and real ale.

Old Forge, Inverie and view when sitting outside it. (Photos by MC)



We saw: 17 Red Deer, 3 Seals (inc. a probable Common Seal), and the following all at Barrisdale Farm: Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Red-throated Diver (in breeding plumage), Ringed Plover and 4 Raven. Also 3 Grasshopper Warbler reeling, 10 Sand Martin (appeared to be nesting) at Loch an Dubh Lochain, Sundew and Marsh Orchid.

Scenery on walk to Inverie. (Photo by MC)


Saturday 7th July - Sound of Sleat (i.e. the sea between Isle of Skye and Knoydart) - c500 Manx Shearwater coming close in to shore, Arctic Tern, Fulmar, Gannet, 3 Silver-washed Fritillary and 2 Grasshopper Warbler reeling. Also 1 Wheatear.
Inverie - Siskins, Redshank. A Roe Deer in the woods.

Sunday 8th July – Walked 15 miles back out of Inverie to Kinloch Hourn - Crossbill, 3 Twite at Barrisdale Farm, Curlew, 3 Grasshopper Warbler reeling again, Silver-washed Fritillary, Gold-ringed dragonfly and 14+ Red Deer.

Gold-ringed Dragonfly and Red Deer. (Photos by MC)


Monday 9th July – Isle of Skye – drove around Trotternish peninsula in north of island, scanning the cliffs along the centre and eastern edge of the area for eagles – after scanning 15 miles of ridges, I finally found a magnificent Golden Eagle which came off the cliff called Sron Vourlinn when we were parked in the picnic area near Loch Langaig and flew along the ridge, being mobbed by 4 Raven. It flew along the length of the cliff 3 times to gain height and was then mobbed by a pair of Peregrine, before disappearing over the top of the cliff. We waited in the hope of it reappearing, and after about 15 minutes an eagle rose above the cliff again, but this one appeared to be a White-tailed Sea Eagle, with straighter, broader, wings and more bulky body. It only stayed in view for a few seconds before going around the north end of the cliff and so I didn’t want to be too greedy and claim both eagle species – I was more than happy with one ! We drove on around the north end of the cliff in the hope of re-finding it, and stopped near the Flodigarry Hotel. There was no sign of the eagle in the air, but on scanning along the ridge with my bins there was an eagle-shaped rock – now I’ve spotted hundreds of these, and they have always been just rocks before ! But this one turned its head !

On scope’ing it, I couldn’t believe my eyes; an adult White-tailed Sea Eagle just half a mile away. It was at this point I realised that I hadn’t got my camera in the car, but took the following pictures using a small digital camera held against the lens. (You can see the small hump of rock the eagle was sat on by looking at the right end of the cliff shown in the Flodigarry link.)

White-tailed Sea Eagle.



 After a while, I saw that the bird had what looked like a red wing-tag in its left wing, with some white at the end. [Upon reporting the bird I have been told that it is most likely a Pink wing-tag with a white ‘G’ on it. This is a female that fledged from a nest site in Wester Ross in 2003 and has been seen several times on Mull, Skye and Morvern since. As a 4 yr old sub-adult this bird may still be on the move as it does not appear to have paired-up and settled into a territory yet.]

White-tailed Sea Eagle, showing wing-tag.



We also saw Gannet (diving), Fulmar (on breeding cliffs), Black Guillemot (flying into breeding cliff), a Snipe and 2 Tufted Duck on small pond by Loch Mealt.
Waternish - Common & Arctic Tern and 2 Eider at the Stein Inn.
Portree boat trip (Sound of Raasay) – In the evening we went on one of the boats that does wildlife trips around the Sound of Raasay (between Skye and Raasay), which have been feeding fish to a pair of Sea Eagles for about 10 years. The pair of White-tailed Sea Eagles were sat on the cliff, but had had enough fish given to them for one day ! We also saw an Arctic Skua which flew right over the boat, c30 Puffin to within 20 feet, c50 Guillemot, Black Guillemot, Kittiwake, Porpoise and a Grey Seal off the jetty in Portree harbour. 
White-tailed Sea Eagles and Puffins.



The photo below of the Puffins is better before zooming in on the birds!



Tuesday 10th July - drive to Inverness – lots of Siskin on bird-feeders outside the windows of a café at Dundreggan, near Glen Morriston.




Despite continuously searching, we never saw any Otters !


Also: Hooded Crow and Rock Dove.

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Last revised: 14 July 2007.