Friday, 3 May 2013

Time to Build an Ark

Friday May 3

What a day to choose to visit the White-tailed Eagle nest viewing point run by the RSPB. I booked it a month ago, hoping to take closer photographs. I took my camera but to no avail. It's rained all day, varying from moderately to a downpour, starting fairly lightly and going downhill fast. We had to be at the gathering point at 10.00., 28 miles away the other side of Loch Beg. Three cars waited until the Ranger drove down the hill, introduced himself , John Clare , and led us all through the gate and up the hill. He took us further than the 'hide' (used as an information centre),  because of the rain. Then, a short walk and up a tree bark lined path to stand under conifers where three telescopes had been set up. There was a very good view of the female Eagle sitting on her nest through a natural break in the bank of conifers. One of the eggs was due to hatch to-day, she was certainly very fidgety, half standing to look down at the eggs on several occasions. John said that this was different behaviour fom the previous days.
 I even enjoyed most of the hour and a half stood in the rain, large drops plopping from the trees, soaking my coat which proved not to be completely waterproof - despite its cost. Country Innovation !!
John the Ranger was a very informative and interesting guide, only in the job 6 weeks for a fixed contract. He offered a return to the hide which I was pleased to take. There we watched the female on the nest on CCTV whilst John showed us feathers and pellets etc, answering a wide range of questions. Seaview John had told us that there were now Pine Martens on Mull and we were told more details, probably 20 pairs now present. How did they get here? They are unlikely to have swum the sound. Maybe on a wood lorry from their stronghold on Ardnamurchan.
What to do now ? We sat in a layby overlooking Loch Be admiring beautiful Great Northern Divers, two Grey Seals and an Otter. The latter was never very near, Pam spotted it swimming and diving mid loch. Her first ever finding of an Otter. Very pleasing.

Rushing torrents cascading down the mountainside
Back to Phionnphort to collect to-day's paper frpm the Post Office, check out the Sound for birds - 2 Razorbills, a Shelduck and a Shag - before driving the short side road to dead-end Sound-side hamlet,  Kintra. Plenty of bedraggled Wheatears flitting the stone walls and tussocks before a Hen Harrier whizzed around a crag and disappeared. Perennial favourite and daily-different Fidden did not disappoint. A flock of 500 Golden Plover in the jet black bibs and bellies of summer breeding kept flying about in a wheeling, swooping, circling  flock before landing again in a sheep field. I tried to photo through the rain, not very successfully.

The camping ground is an undulating piece of rough, sandy, hard based pasture overlooking a rocky bay. Pam drove to the far end where one can overlook an inlet. Very productive to-night, 8 Whimbrel perched on rocks and then flying, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit amongst a small flock of feeding Redshank, a single Dunlin occasionally showed. Almost best of all was four Mountain Hares on the shores and rocks, lying down to have a good clean-up after the rain, which had diminished to an occasional drizzle.
In early to-night, soon after 4, hope the weather is better to-morrow, we've never had such consistently poor conditions for so long. We've done well for birds considering.

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