Trip report - north and west Scotland

24th June 2014
Dates: 16th to 23rd June 2014

Destination: north and west Scotland



Purpose of trip:

The purpose of my trip was my regular annual visit to the region to see bird and mammal species that are not found on a regular basis in Essex or East Anglia.

In addition, weather permitting, I hoped to be able to take some photos of northern landscapes.

Primary target areas:

The primary target areas for wildlife watching and/or landscape photography were:

Perthshire: Loch of the Lowes SWT reserve

Speyside: Insh Marshes RSPB reserve, Loch Insh, Loch Garten/Loch Mallachie RSPB reserve, Uath Lochans, Forest Lodge, Dulnain Bridge

Inverness area (south): Findhorn valley, Loch Ruthven

Sutherland and Wester Ross: Loch Fleet, Loch Stack, Loch Laxford, Kyle of Durness, Balnakeil Bay, Tarbet, Scourie Bay, Kylesku, Point of Stoer, Loch Assynt, Little Loch Broom, Gairloch-Melvaig, Loch Maree, Shieldaig-Applecross-Toscaig

Skye

Ardnamurchan peninsula and Morven

Getting there and getting around:

I travelled up to Glasgow by Virgin trains on 16th June 2014 and returned on 23rd June 2014 having obtained an extremely good value advance return ticket for £42. As usual, I booked my return ticket via redspottedhanky.com and by using Tesco clubcard vouchers on this website, my ticket cost me nothing .... a bargain!

In Glasgow, I hired a car from the afternoon of 16th June 2014 to the afternoon of 23rd June 2014 from Alamo for £76.79 reduced by 10% cashback to £69.11.

On the nights of 16th and 17th June 2014, I stayed at Travelodges in Glenrothes and Inverness.

On the night of 18th June 2014, I again stayed at Hillside bed and breakfast in Durness.

On the night of 19th June 2014, I stayed at The Auld Alliance bed and breakfast in Gairloch.

On the nights of 20th and 21st June 2014, I stayed at The Skye Picture House bed and breakfast at Ard Dorch just outside Broadford.

On the night of 22nd June 2014, I again stayed at Heatherbank Guesthouse just outside Strontian.

This is a summary of my itinerary and route:

16th June 2014: Glasgow – Glenrothes

17th June 2014: Glenrothes – Loch of the Lowes – Insh Marshes – Uath Lochans – Loch Insh – Milton Loch – Loch Garten/Loch Mallachie – Forest Lodge – Dulnain Bridge – Findhorn valley – Loch Ruthven – Inverness

18th June 2014: Inverness – Loch Garten/Loch Mallachie – Loch Ruthven – Loch Fleet – Loch Stack – Loch Laxford – Kyle of Durness – Balnakeil Bay – Durness

19th June 2014: Durness – Balnakeil Bay – Loch Laxford – Tarbet – Scourie Bay – Kylesku – Stoer peninsula and Point of Stoer – Loch Assynt – Little Loch Broom – Gairloch

20th June 2014: Gairloch – Melvaig – Loch Maree – Shieldaig – Applecross – Toscaig – Broadford Bay – Ard Dorch

21st June 2014: Ard Dorch – Loch Airnort – Loch Sligachan – Loch Portree – The Storr – Staffin Bay – Duntulm – Uig – Skeabost – Trumpan – Loch Dunvegan – Neist Point – Loch Bracadale – Drynoch – Glen Brittle and Loch Brittle – Loch Sligachan – Broadford – Loch Slapin – Elgol – Broadford – Ard Dorch

22nd June 2014: Ard Dorch – Broadford – Sleat peninsula (Tarskavaig loop road) – Broadford – Kyle of Lochalsh – Invergarry – Spean Bridge – Loch Arkaig – Fort William – Corran ferry – Strontian – Lochaline - Strontian

23rd June 2014: Strontian – Glen Coe – Tyndrum – Crianlarich – Loch Lomond - Glasgow

Weather:

After the first 2 days which were very hot and sunny, the weather during the rest of my trip was the usual typical Scottish mix of sun, cloud, drizzle and rain.

Highlights:

During my trip, I was able to record 105 bird species and 11 mammal species. Mammals included Pine Marten (1 at Strontian), Otter (1 at Milton Loch in Boat of Garten and 2 together at Ord on Skye) and Red Squirrel (1 at Loch of the Lowes and 1 at Loch Garten).

Trip list - north Scotland

With regard to the birds, I was able to add 13 species to my 2014 list.

The major disappointment, like my 2013 trip, was failing to see a Golden Eagle or White-tailed Eagle despite some patient waiting and watching at a number of locations.

The following summarises the notable wildlife species seen on my trip:

Loch of the Lowes: Osprey, Cuckoo, Goosander, Great Crested Grebe, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Common Redstart, Willow Warbler, Swallow, Sand Martin, Bullfinch, Siskin, Coal Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Red Squirrel, Red Deer (no sign of Beaver which is now being reported regularly from this site)

Insh Marshes: Common Snipe, Lapwing, Curlew, Heron, Common Buzzard, Swallow, Roe Deer

Uath Lochans: Goldeneye, Tree Pipit, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bank Vole

Loch Insh: Osprey

Milton Loch: Heron, Little Grebe, Tufted Duck, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Willow Warbler, Otter

Loch Garten-Loch Mallachie: Goldeneye, Common Sandpiper, Common Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, Willow Warbler, Treecreeper, Siskin, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Jay, Red Squirrel (no Crested Tit this year)

Loch Garten-Nethy Bridge: Crested Tit

Forest Lodge: Common Redstart, Willow Warbler, Siskin (no Crested Tit this year)

Dulnain Bridge: Common Sandpiper, Grey Wagtail

Findhorn valley: Dipper, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Common Tern, Kestrel, Swallow, House Martin, Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler, Wheatear, Red Deer, Brown Hare, Rabbit

Farr road: Red Grouse

Loch Ruthven: Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Common Sandpiper, Heron, Little Grebe, Swallow, Sand Martin, Cuckoo, Willow Warbler, Reed Bunting, Roe Deer (no Slavonian Grebe this year)

Tore near Inverness: Red Kite

Loch Fleet: Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Shelduck, Teal, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Heron, Swallow, Common Seal, Stoat

Lock Stack: Great Northern Diver, Black-throated Diver, Common Sandpiper

Loch Laxford: Greenshank, Oystercatcher, Curlew, House Martin, Stonechat, Hooded Crow

Kyle of Durness: Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Oystercatcher, Rock Dove, Common Buzzard, Wheatear

Durness: Gannet, Fulmer, Shag, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove

Balnakeil Bay: Red-throated Diver, Gannet, Razorbill, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Swallow, Sand Martin, Linnet (no sign of reported Citrine Wagtail)

Tarbet: Great Skua, Arctic Skua, Great Northern Diver, Red-throated Diver, Black Guillemot, Shag, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Eider, Common Sandpiper, Rock Dove, Twite, Wheatear, Raven

Scourie Bay: Oystercatcher, Wheatear, Common Buzzard

Kylesku: Shag, Arctic/Common Tern, Oystercatcher, Common Seal, Red Deer

Point of Stoer: Gannet, Great Skua, Shag, Guillemot, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Oystercatcher, Wheatear, Rock Pipit

Loch Assynt: Osprey, Goosander

Dundonnell: Raven, Red Deer

Little Loch Broom: Common Sandpiper, Red-breasted Merganser, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Common Redshank

Gairloch: Twite, Wheatear

Gairloch-Melvaig: Common Sandpiper, Rock Dove, Twite, Wheatear, Cuckoo, Swallow, House Martin, Common Buzzard, Hooded Crow, Stonechat

Loch Maree (Slattadale): Black-throated Diver, Red-breasted Merganser, Common Sandpiper, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Swallow, Grey Wagtail

Shieldaig-Applecross: Black-throated Diver, Black Guillemot, Eider, Cormorant, Heron, Oystercatcher, Swallow, Wheatear, Stonechat, Rock Pipit, Common Buzzard, Hooded Crow

Applecross-Toscaig: Common Seal

Broadford Bay: Great Skua, Red-breasted Merganser, Shelduck, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Heron, Cormorant, Sand Martin

Ard Dorch: Rock Dove

Loch Ainort: Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Shag, Oystercatcher, Heron, Stonechat, Hooded Crow, Atlantic Grey Seal

Staffin Bay: Great Skua, Rock Dove, Oystercatcher, Wheatear, Swallow

Flodigarry: Wheatear, Stonechat

Kilmuir: Raven, Linnet, Skylark, Chiffchaff, Wheatear, Hooded Crow, Common Buzzard

Linicro: Wheatear, Common Buzzard

Trumpan: Corncrake (3 calling males), Gannet, Shag, Skylark, Wheatear, Linnet, Raven

Trumpan-Stein: Rock Dove

Loch Dunvegan: Arctic/Common Tern, Shag, Heron, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Greylag Goose, Raven, Common Seal

Neist Point: Black Guillemot, Guillemot, Razorbill, Gannet, Fulmar, Wheatear, Rock Pipit

Loch Bracadale: Arctic/Common Tern, Gannet, Cormorant, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Heron, Raven, Common Buzzard

Loch Brittle: Red-throated Diver, Black Guillemot, Gannet, Shag, Common Sandpiper, Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Cuckoo, Wheatear, Sand Martin, Lesser Redpoll

Glenbrittle-Carbost: Cuckoo

Broadford-Elgol: Common Sandpiper, Heron, Greenshank, Rock Dove, Cuckoo, Wheatear, Swallow, Common Buzzard, Raven

Broadford: Grasshopper Warbler

Sleat peninsula (Tarskavaig loop road): Rock Dove, Shag, Heron, Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Cuckoo, Wheatear, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Swallow, Stonechat, Whinchat, Lesser Redpoll, Common Buzzard, Raven, Hooded Crow, Otter

Loch Arkaig: Red-breasted Merganser, Common Sandpiper, Willow Warbler, Reed Bunting

Strontian: Pine Marten

Strontian-Lochaline: Gannet, Red-breasted Merganser, Arctic/Common Tern, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Heron, Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Wheatear, Stonechat, Siskin, Common Buzzard, Hooded Crow, Red Deer

Corran ferry: Black Guillemot, Eider

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