Trip report - west Scotland

12th November 2011
Dates: 7th to 11th November 2011

Destination: west Scotland



Purpose of trip:

This was a short 4 day trip to western Scotland, specifically the Knapdale Forest and the island of Mull.

The purpose of my trip was to visit the area of Knapdale in Argyll which has been the subject of a trial re-introduction to Scotland of the European Beaver and to again visit Mull to watch White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Otter and much more.

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

Primary target areas:

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

Knapdale Forest and Tayvallich peninsula: area south of Crinan

Mull: Salen Bay and Aros estuary, Loch na Keal, Loch Scridain and Loch Beg, Ross of Mull, Glen More, Grasspoint, Loch Don

Getting there and getting around:

I travelled up to Edinburgh by East Coast trains on 7th November 2011 and returned on 11th November 2011. I booked my return ticket via redspottedhanky.com and by using Tesco clubcard vouchers on this website, my ticket cost me nothing .... a bargain! .... “every little helps” as Mr Tesco says!

In Edinburgh, I hired a campervan from the morning of 8th November 2011 to the afternoon of 11th November 2011 from Wicked Campers, taking advantage of their November “car rental price match” offer which reduced the rental cost from £140 to just £76 .... another bargain!

I travelled to Mull by the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry service from Oban to Craignure.

This is a summary of my itinerary and route:

8th November 2011: Edinburgh to Knapdale Forest (European Beaver re-introduction site at Loch Coille Bharr and the Dubh Loch near Barnluasgan and the area south of Achnamara)

9th November 2011: Oban to Craignure (CalMac outward ferry to Mull) – Salen Bay – Aros estuary – Loch na Keal – Loch Scridain – Loch Beg

10th November 2011: Glen More – Loch Beg – Loch Scridain – Ross of Mull – Grasspoint – Loch Don – Craignure to Oban (CalMac reurn ferry from Mull)

11th November 2011: Knapdale Forest (European Beaver re-introduction site at Lochan Buic) – Tayvallich peninsula – Add estuary – return to Edinburgh

Weather:

The weather during my trip was typically Scottish and autumnal .... a mixture of sun, cloud, drizzle and rain.

Scottish Beaver Trial:



The Scottish Beaver Trial is a partnership project between the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the Forestry Commission Scotland to reintroduce European Beavers to a designated trial area in Scotland for a time-limited period (5 years) to provide an opportunity to assess the effect they will have on the local environment as well as how they settle in to a new habitat in Scotland.

The Scottish Government approved a licence for the release of the European Beaver families in Knapdale Forest in May 2008, following a 2 month long public consultation which showed that 73% of respondents were in favour of the trial. The first European Beavers were released in the Knapdale Forest in May 2009.

Scottish National Heritage, the body tasked with co-ordinating the independent scientific monitoring of the trial, will report to the Scottish Government on whether the conditions of the licence are being met on the ground. This trial will help to decide the future of European Beavers in Scotland.

More information on the Scottish Beaver Trial can be found here:

Scottish Beaver Trial

Scottish Beaver Trial blog

Scottish Wildlife Trust

Scottish National Heritage

More information on the European Beaver can be found here:

Wikipedia - European Beaver

Highlights:

During my short trip, I was able to record 71 bird species, 6 mammal species and 1 species of amphibian.

Trip list - Knapdale and Mull

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

Knapdale Forest – Dubh Loch and Lochan Buic: signs of European Beaver activity (lodge, dam and tree felling and coppicing) but unfortunately no sightings of the animals themselves

Knapdale Forest – south of Achnamara: possible sighting of a Scottish Wildcat in a remote area away from human habitation (not a definitive sighting but the animal was seen for some time in car headlights and a spotlight and did demonstrate expected characteristics)

Knapdale Forest – south of Achnamara: Tawny Owl (1 male calling and located by spotlight)

Knapdale Forest – south of Achnamara: Red Deer and Roe Deer (small groups located by spotlight)

Tayvallich peninsula – Ulva Lagoon: Whooper Swan (c.40), Canada Goose (c.100), Mute Swan (7), Common Buzzard (1), Stonechat (1)

Add estuary – Bellanoch bridge: Goosander (3 males), Wigeon (c.50), Mute Swan (1), Curlew (1)

Oban to Craignure ferry: Red-throated Diver (1), Shag (c.10), Dunlin (8), Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, unidentified seal species

Salen Bay: Goosander (2 females), Wigeon (c.15), Mallard (2), Mute Swan (2), Shag (c.20), Oystercatcher (1), Hooded Crow, Rock Pipit

Aros estuary: Goosander (2 females), Wigeon (c.10), Curlew (1), Oystercatcher (2), Heron (1), Hooded Crow

Salen to Gruline: Pheasant (1)

Gruline to Killiechronan: Whooper Swan (1), Greylag Goose (c.300), Wigeon (8), Black-tailed Godwit (2), Oystercatcher (c.20), Curlew (c.5), Herring Gull, Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Common Buzzard (1), Kestrel (1), Sparrowhawk (1), Raven (2), Hooded Crow, Rock Dove (1), Fieldfare (c.300 in small fly over groups of 10 to 50), Blackbird (c.20), Red Deer (10)

Killiechronan to Ulva ferry: Golden Eagle (2 adults together), Common Redshank (1), Greylag Goose (12), Hooded Crow

Gruline to Knock: Common Buzzard (1), Hooded Crow, Chaffinch, Robin

Loch na Keal: Slavonian Grebe (2), Red-breasted Merganser (c.25), Mallard (c.50), Teal (3), Oystercatcher (c.20), Curlew (1), Shag (c.100), Cormorant (1), Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Common Buzzard (1), Hooded Crow, Rock Pipit, Redwing (1), Common Seal (2)

Glen Seilisder: Fieldfare (c.20)

Kilfinichen: Mallard (8), Oystercatcher (2), Curlew (1), Heron (3), Common Buzzard (2), Kestrel (1), Hooded Crow, Blackbird (c.20)

Loch Scridain: Great Northern Diver (1), Red-throated Diver (3), Heron (3), Greylag Goose (4), Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull, White-tailed Eagle (1 adult), Common Buzzard (2), Raven (1), Dipper (1), Rock Pipit, Otter (1+2), Common Seal (1-2)

Loch Beg: Slavonian Grebe (1), Red-breasted Merganser (c.20), Greylag Goose (4), Stonechat (2), Otter (1)

Kinloch: Hen Harrier (1 male), Kestrel (1), Merlin (1 possible), Fieldfare (2), Red Deer (6)

Glen More: Peregrine (2), Common Buzzard (1), Kestrel (1), Red Deer (11), Blackbird (c.20)

Pennyghael: Golden Plover (c.40), Greenshank (1), Common Redshank (1), Curlew (1), Common Gull, Hooded Crow, Collared Dove (6), Otter (1)

Uisken: Ringed Plover (5), Oystercatcher (1), Herring Gull, Common Buzzard (1), Hooded Crow, Rock Pipit

Fidden: Greenland White-fronted Goose (7), Canada Goose (7), Lapwing (c.50), Ringed Plover (2), Twite (5), Wheatear (1), Fieldfare (c.20), Redwing (c.20), Song Thrush (1), House Sparrow (c.10)

Fionnphort: Rook (3)

Grasspoint: Hen Harrier (1 female), Common Buzzard (3), Curlew (1), Hooded Crow, Blackbird (c.50), Wren, Red Deer (23), Rabbit

Loch Don: Slavonian Grebe (1), Goldeneye (3), Wigeon (c.50), Teal (c.10), Mute Swan (2), Oystercatcher (1), Curlew (4), Heron (2), Common Redshank (4), Herring Gull, White-tailed Eagle (1 adult)

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