These were the wildlife highlights in Glendale, Isle of Skye, in 2008.
If you saw something interesting/unusual in Glendale this year then please do email in.
There was a group of four black-throated divers on Loch Pooltiel, near Meanish Pier, mid afternoon. There was a snipe on the top road in Lower Milovaig (outside Nick & Kathy's house) mid afternoon.
A pair of black-throated divers and a pair of red-throated divers on Loch Pooltiel were giving close views from the Upper Milovaig/Pollosgan area. There is an influx of snipe at the moment with birds at Lephin and Lower Milovaig today. There was a meadow pipit at Lephin, which is very unusual at this time of year. Also a pair of stonechats at Lephin. The first summer-plumaged black guillemot of the winter was on Loch Pooltiel. They are just starting to come back in and most are still in winter plumage.
There were two adult and two immature whooper swans on Loch Mor at Waterstein (Bob Cleland).
There were two snipe near the 'boatshed' by Meanish Pier mid-afternoon. The two black-throated divers were giving tremendous close views today from Meanish Pier.
Another good day for divers with all three species recorded: a Great Northern Diver, a black-throated diver and 2 red-throated divers in Moonen Bay, another black-throated diver on Loch Pooltiel. There were six black guillemots and a pair of eiders at Neist Point but no other auks and birds are not yet back on the nesting ledges. There was a flock of 30 fieldfares in the garden of Oisgill House at Waterstein. There were 4 goosanders and 6 goldeneye on Loch Mor at Waterstein. Two curlews on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel.
There was a small party of six golden plovers on Waterstein Head, also a probable red grouse there (Bob Cleland).
There was an otter fishing along the shoreline of the white beach at Milovaig mid morning. There was a harbour (common) seal off Meanish Pier, mid afternoon. These are becoming increasingly scarce visitors.
There were two black-throated divers and three red-throated divers on Loch Pooltiel. Two black guillemots have returned to Loch Pooltiel today, the first after their autumn absence. There were a handful of winter thrushes around: a flock of 8 fieldfares on the top road and a group of 12 redwings with 2 mistle thrushes on the bottom road in Upper Milovaig.
There were a pair of goosanders off the White Beach at Lower Milovaig early afternoon.
There was a flock of 11 curlews below the bottom road in Lower Milovaig at 9am, our best count of the winter so far. There was a snipe at Ramasaig at mid-day. There was a golden eagle over the Waterstein-Ramasaig cliffs at 1pm.
There is still a black-throated diver on Loch Pooltiel.
Glendale was battered by high winds today that left a trail of destruction across the estate. A static caravan in Lower Milovaig and a touring caravan at Meanish Pier were both completely destroyed. Many mature trees were uprooted in the winds, which gusted up to 76.7 mph.
There was a report of a treecreeper in the gardens at The Three Chimneys (per skye-birds.com) which is the first record in Glendale since February 2005, when a pair had over-wintered in Lower Milovaig.
A single golden eagle was showing well at Waterstein mid afternoon.
There was a dipper on the burn at the White Beach in Milovaig mid afternoon (NCarter & KLindsley). There is still a black-throated diver on Loch Pooltiel, which was giving very close views from the seaward end of the Milovaig loop, mid afternoon.
There was a barn owl perching on the deer fence beside Hamara Lodge on two evenings this week at around 8-9pm (CGray).
The snow bunting was still present at the Uiginish Junction on the B884 Dunvegan-Skindin road at 7:55am. There was a woodcock circling around gardens beside the Tables Hotel in Dunvegan at 8am.
There was a snow bunting running along the road at the Uiginish Junction on the B884 Dunvegan-Skindin road at 7:30pm.
We are doing well this weekend! There was a stunning snow bunting on the top road in Lower Milovaig (in front of The Croft House & Puffin Cottage), mid afternoon. The black-throated diver is still on Loch Pooltiel but, sadly, no sign of the crossbills today.
A cracking pair of crossbills, in pines at the boatshed, near Meanish Pier, were giving simply stunning views, mid afternoon. They were close enough to clearly hear them crunching on the cones. There was also a black-throated diver on Loch Pooltiel all day.
An otter was fishing off the White Beach at Upper Milovaig, early morning.
At dawn, there were woodcock at Husabost and Skinidin.
At 6pm, there was a barn owl hunting at Borrodale and another woodcock above the bottom road on Croft 4 Upper Milovaig.
There was a woodcock outside Carters' Rest in Upper Milovaig at 7:45am. We get a big influx of these birds into Glendale each Autumn.
There was a woodcock circling at Lephin at 7:50am.
There was a male reed bunting in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig, early morning. A woodcock was caught in the headlights on the top road in Upper Milovaig at 4:30pm. There are still a few wintering thrushes around with 1 mistle thrush, 2 fieldfares and a redwing in Lower Milovaig today.
A covering of snow, down to sea-level, fell on Milovaig in the afternoon. Bitterly cold all day with temperatures down to -3 last night and a thick frost at dawn.
There was a mistle thrush in Upper Milovaig late afternoon. The first of the winter. These are scarce winter visitors to Glendale, with only a few sightings each year.
There was a nice flock of 15 long-tailed tits beside the river Hamara, on the Fasach common grazings, at mid-day.
There were four goldfinches in the gardens of 1 and 2 Lower Milovaig this morning. There were four curlews below the bottom road in Lower Milovaig, early morning. Still up to eight coal tits visiting the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig.
There was a report of 4 coal tits in the garden at 16 Upper Milovaig (Anna Cleland) for the last few weeks and there have been up to eight birds using bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig over the same period. They are only occasional visitors to Milovaig and such numbers are very unusual.
There was a single woodcock caught in the headlights on the bottom road, on croft 4 Upper Milovaig at 6pm.
The otters are back, after a prolonged absence over the summer. There was a single otter fishing in Loch Pooltiel at 7:45am that came ashore onto the White Beach at Lower Milovaig.
There was a late pipistrelle bat flying over the Glendale Road at Dunvegan at 5:30pm.
There was a lovely barn owl perched on a post at the roadside outside 6 Fasach at 5:45pm. There was a report of a waxwing in a garden at Waterstein (per WHFP).
This photograph was taken in Portree this morning, showing some of the beautiful waxwings that have currently invaded our island. There were around 400 birds in this flock, in Broom Place (entrance to 'Jansvans' industrial estate).
The birds remained in Portree until the 6th, by which time there were just a handful left. If anyone is interested in seeing a few more photos of the Portree Waxwings, I have put some here: http://www.glendaleskye.com/gallery.htm.
There were six long-tailed tits in Bob & Anna's garden at 16 Upper Milovaig at 2pm and also a report of a pair of redpolls there last week (Anna Cleland). Long-tailed tits are quite scarce visitors to Glendale and this is the first report since March 2007.
Skye is currently experiencing a major invasion of Waxwings, even greater than that of 2004, with literally hundreds in Portree today. They may reach Glendale, so keep an eye open for any flocks of big, starling-like birds with crests, on rowan trees and other berry-bearing shrubs.
There was a large flock of 100+ Golden Plover at Ramasaig with a further flock of 50 at Lorgill. The first woodcock of the winter was flushed at the fank in Ramasaig. There was a single golden eagle at Ramasaig and a male hen harrier hunting at Lorgill. Unusually, there were four reed buntings feeding on the Ramasaig Road at Borrodale (close to Sam's house). This is the first time we have recorded reed buntings in Glendale. There was a flock of 60 shags off the skerries in Loch Pooltiel all morning, which is unusually large. There were two black-throated divers on Loch Pooltiel, late afternoon. Then, to round off a cracking day, we had a superb adult white-tailed eagle that flew low, just above the water, from the Pollosgan area, across Loch Pooltiel, to Dunvegan Head at 4:30pm.
There was report of a 'large' flock of waxwings feeding on rowan berries at 11 Skinidin (per Anna Cleland).
There was an interesting report of three juvenile/1st winter swans walking across the moor towards the road in Skinidin at 4pm (Anna Cleland).
These were probably Whoopers that had been grazing on the nearby meadows.
The first fieldfare of the winter arrived in Lower Milovaig overnight.
There were wintry showers overnight and Glendale awoke to a very picturesque dusting of snow, with some minor roads white over. It felt bitterly cold and temperatures were just below freezing at dawn. This is very unexpected at this time of year. It is the kind of weather we would expect in February. Flurries of sleet and snow continued throughout the day.
There was an influx of continental thrushes to Milovaig overnight, with 30 redwings and 30 blackbirds on croft 2 Lower Milovaig.
During a sea-watch at Neist this morning, Bob McMillan (skye-birds.com) had the following heading South: 5 great-northern diver, a bonxie, 300 kittiwake, 220+ gannets, 15 brent geese.
The first redwing of the winter arrived in the garden of 1 Lower Milovaig today.
We have been battered by high winds and torrential rain for the last two days, with wind speeds of 75mph recorded in Dunvegan in the early hours of Friday morning and many rivers, including the Hamara, spectacularly bursting their banks.
A flock of 18 whooper swans did a circuit of Loch Pooltiel before heading off South over Upper Milovaig at 6pm.
Very cold today with temperatures between 3.5 and 5 degrees all day. The Cuillins were covered in snow for the first time this winter and there were reports of snow falling at sea-level in North-East Skye. There were showers of hail and sleet in Glendale.
A skein of 50 geese came South over Lower Milovaig just after sunset.
There was a small group of six teal (three ducks and three drakes) on Loch Erghallan at Skinidin all day.
Avoided, by inches, using severe braking, a head-on collision with a red deer hind that ran across the road in front of the car in Skinidin at 8am .
There are still late swallows coming through, with a single at Colbost at dawn. The red deer are starting to coming down from the hills, with two hinds at the roadside in Skinidin at dawn. Five golden plovers flew South over the Glendale Road at Dunvegan at 8:05am.
Two cormorants have spent the weekend on the skerries/white beach in Loch Pooltiel. This is the first time that we have ever seen cormorants on Loch Pooltiel, although there have been a pair at Neist Point throughout the breeding season. Though fairly common in the South of the island it seems that they have now begun to colonise the North-Western corner.
There were two late pipistrelle bats on the wing in Lower Milovaig at dusk.
Two late swallows flew South through Lower Milovaig at dusk.
There was a pod of 4 harbour porpoises off Neist Point early afternoon.
A ringtail hen harrier hunting over Neist Point departed across Moonen Bay, mid-afternoon. There were an unprecedented 5 golden eagles soaring together on the thermals in the Waterstein area most of the afternoon. There was a single eider duck in Moonen Bay.
There were a pair of goldeneye and a pair of little grebes on Loch Mor at Waterstein.
At 5:45pm, a stunning male hen harrier passed through Milovaig, below the bottom road, in the direction of the Pier, being attacked by a gull.
A skein of 30 (unidentifiable) geese flew West over Milovaig mid-morning.
There were still a couple of swallows and a willow warbler in Lower Milovaig today. A first-winter black-headed gull came into Loch Pooltiel briefly, late afternoon, before returning out into the Minch.
There were six harbour porpoises in the Minch off Lower Milovaig, late evening.
There are still four stonechats (a pair with two immatures) at the seaward end of the Milovaig Loop.
There are still a few late straggling swallows around, with one heading South at Skinidin at 8am and a group of 6 on the Glendale Road at Dunvegan. There was a single whimbrel feeding in rock pools on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel all evening.
There was a pod of 3-4 harbour porpoises in the Minch off Lower Milovaig, late evening.
AMI: 0 (that should be the end of the midges for this year)
Milovaig entertained another scarce migrant today, with a beautiful Turtle Dove flushed from the cliff-top beyond Meanish Pier, which flew into the spruces behind the boathouse. Obviously, a tired migrant and only the 2nd record on Skye this year. There were also two redshank on the shore-line near Meanish Pier. There were still a pair of late swallows in Lower Milovaig at dawn.
There were a pair of Stonechats with two immatures at the sea-ward end of the Milovaig loop, early evening.
There was a single harbour porpoise out in the Minch off Lower Milovaig and two more inside the mouth of Loch Pooltiel, late evening.
There was a single redshank roosting on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel at dusk, our first of the winter.
AMI: 2 (150 yesterday)
There were a small pod of 4 harbour porpoises in the Minch off Lower Milovaig and a second pod of 6 harbour porpoises inside the mouth of Loch Pooltiel at 7:30pm.
Nice way to finish off August with a pod of 30 common dolphins in the Minch off Lower Milovaig, a single minke whale, very close to shore in front of crofts 14/15 Lower Milovaig, and two harbour porpoise at the mouth of Loch Pooltiel. All mid afternoon.
There was just a lone female wheatear at Lower Milovaig. They are getting very scarce now, as most are departing South. There are many small flocks of up to 20 twite and meadow pipits around Milovaig.
Still lots of fungi around Glendale with common inkcaps sprouting from every cowpat, over 1kg of field mushrooms picked today, plenty of yellow and red waxcaps and several deadly ivory clitocybes.
AMI: 500+ (worst day of the year, so far; damp and still. Ouch!).
The weather has been very poor for bird/cetacean watching this week but it has been perfect for fungi, with large numbers of delicious field mushrooms being picked on grassy areas that are heavily grazed by sheep. We have picked up to 0.8kg in a day.
Inexperienced mushroom hunters should be very wary though, as there are large numbers of lethally poisonous, white clitocybes growing amongst the field mushrooms. Eating one of those by mistake would cause you to sweat so profusely that you would have lost up to 4kg of body fluids before death relieved your suffering.
There is an exceptional flock of twite at Hamaramore totalling over 300 birds. There were also a family group of 6 linnets at Fasach and a stonechat.
AMI: 400, late afternoon (shredded to the bone).
At around 12:45pm, an immature white-tailed eagle came very low over the white beach at Lower Milovaig, giving amazing views. It proceeded to follow the burn in the direction of Carters' Rest. It briefly almost landed in front of Bob & Anna's house before turning onto croft 2 Upper Milovaig. It was so low as it flew over the croft house at 2 Upper that it almost touched the chimney. It then turned back and flew over to Scorr Farm, where it worked its way up to the masts before making its way across the hill behind Ferinquarrie. The views were so good, below the bottom road, that the red wing tags could clearly be seen, although it wasn't possible to read the numbers.
Two linnets flew South over Lower Milovaig, early afternoon.
AMI: 0 (nice breeze).
Between 7pm and 8pm: there was a basking shark feeding off Lower Milovaig (near the Pier), a pod of 12+ harbour porpoise feeding across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel (the largest pod we have seen here) and a pod of at least 8 (unidentifiable) dolphins breeching far out in the Minch off Lower Milovaig.
Post-breeding flocks of twite are starting to build up around Milovaig, with 30+ on croft 2 Lower late afternoon.
The whimbrel was roosting on the white beach at Lower Milovaig at high tide, in the company of a curlew. There were two immature stonechats at Meanish Pier.
There were a single minke whale and three harbour porpoises in the Minch off Lower Milovaig from 6pm until 7pm, although the minke was not surfacing often.
There was a single whimbrel on the white beach at Lower Milovaig at 8:30pm.
Andy's Midge Index (AMI): 400+ late evening, unbearable.
There was a single yellow wagtail beside the Glendale Road at Dunvegan at 8am. I am told that this is the first contemporary record for Skye. A lone cuckoo flew South over Lower Milovaig at around 6pm being mobbed by meadow pipits and twite.
From 9:30pm until dusk at 10am, there were a single minke whale and a single harbour porpoise feeding across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel.
There were a single minke whale and a single harbour porpoise far out in the Minch off Lower Milovaig between 8:45pm and 9:15pm.
There was a single bonxie (great skua) on the water off the skerries in Loch Pooltiel from 8:30pm onwards. It was waiting for passing kittiwakes and gannets, attacking them when they caught something. At one stage, it forced a kittiwake to drop a pipefish but it didn't catch the fish before the it hit the water and swam away. There were also a family of stonechats, with at least 2 immatures, below the bottom road on croft 5 Lower Milovaig.
AMI: 200 (midge hood required)
There were two harbour porpoise feeding at the mouth of Loch Pooltiel between 9:15pm and 9:45pm.
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At around 8:15pm, there was a small basking shark feeding close to the rocky spit on the right-hand side of the White Beach at Lower Milovaig. It swam out past the skerries and from around 9:30pm onwards was feeding with a second, larger basking shark at the seaward side of Lower Milovaig. From 10pm until 10:15pm, there was a single minke whale in the Minch off Lower Milovaig and two harbour porpoise inside the mouth of Loch Pooltiel.
There are currently many huge shoals of small fish in the waters around Milovaig that cause the surface to boil and are, undoubtedly, attracting the large range of cetaceans that we have been experiencing this year.
Between 9pm and 9:45pm there was a pod of around 30 common dolphins in the Minch off Lower Milovaig, giving clear, but distant, views of them breaching and surface-feeding. There was a also a single harbour porpoise inside the mouth of Loch Pooltiel at the same time.
Two swifts, a rare species on Skye, flew South over Lower Milovaig at 7am.
There was a spectacular display at Neist Point this morning with no less than six basking sharks and at least 4 adult minke whales. One adult basking shark was over 6 metres in length with a prominent (huge) dorsal fin. The basking sharks were approaching literally within feet of the rocks, enabling their gills, jaws and even the white barnacles encrusting the nose of the big one to be seen in spectacular detail. The minkes were also approaching within 20m of the shore, enabling their blow to be heard and the occasional puff was seen.
Also at Neist Point were: two bonxies, harassing the large number of gannets that were diving, a single arctic skua flew South, 500+ manx shearwaters that were surface-feeding together with around 500 kittiwakes, a red-throated diver (carrying fish) and a single puffin, which came very close to the shore at around 1pm.
Just to finish off a cracking day, there were at least 4 harbour porpoise and an adult minke whale feeding in the Minch across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel from 9pm until 10:15pm. There was a red-throated diver off the white beach at Lower Milovaig at dusk.
At around 11am, two pods, each of around 20 common dolphins, were feeding off Colbost (Phil & Sandie Cheeseman).
There was a basking shark very close inshore at Meanish Pier late afternoon (BStables).
Five orca (killer) whales swam (very fast) past Neist Point at 3pm and two basking sharks there late afternoon (Phil & Sandie Cheeseman).
Between 9pm and 9:30pm, a large pod of 20-30 common dolphins were putting on an outstanding display across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel, giving amazing views from Lower Milovaig. The pod comprised a mixture of adults and calves of various ages that were surface-feeding and breeching continually, including synchronised breeching of several animals at a time.
There were also a pair of red-throated divers in Loch Pooltiel that were seen carrying small fish, evidence of local breeding.
An immature white-tailed eagle flew low along the Lower Milovaig shore of Loch Pooltiel at 8:30pm and out towards the Minch.
There was a bonxie dive-bombing a group of fishermen in a dinghy off Neist Point, late morning. Another bonxie flew South along the Moonen Bay cliffs at mid-day.
There was a red-throated diver off the white beach at Lower Milovaig late evening.
From 9:30pm onwards: The pod of minke whales was still present but the animals were feeding much further out, in the Minch off Dunvegan Head, giving clear but distant views from Lower Milovaig. The harbour porpoise was also still present feeding across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel.
At around 10pm, a bonxie (great skua) flew in from the Minch to Meanish Pier before turning around and heading back out again. There were a number of large rafts of guillemots/razorbills in the Minch off Lower Milovaig totalling 200-300 birds.
From 9:45pm onwards, a pod of at least two adult minke whales and a calf were feeding across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel, giving good views from Lower Milovaig. The animals were occasionally breaching their noses and a flipper was breached once. At the same time, there was also a single harbour porpoise feeding inside the mouth of Loch Pootiel.
It was a cracking evening for a spot of whale watching, with a nice sunset, flat-calm sea, warm, no wind and no midges.
There was a 6-7 metre basking shark very close to the shore in Oisgill Bay from 2:30pm onwards, giving great views of its cavernous jaws from the surrounding cliff-tops.
Also at Oisgill Bay was a single peregrine falcon being mobbed by ravens. An unidentified diver flew South over Oisgill Bay at around 3pm.
There were two male linnets taking peanuts from the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig today. A single red-throated diver on Loch Pooltiel was giving stunning views from Pollosgan all morning. A pair of whinchats have successfully fledged four young at Lephin and one of the pairs of lapwings at Hamaramore has successfully fledged two young.
There were three broad-leaved marsh orchids in bloom at Hamaramore, amongst the very numerous heath spotted orchids and fragrant orchids.
AMI: still 0 thankfully...
There were a pair of red-throated divers on Loch Pooltiel late evening.
There was a male linnet using the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig all day.
Again, just off our patch, but there was a single minke whale off Ardmore Point, Waternish today (Kate Smart).
Just outside our patch but there was an arctic skua attacking terns at Claigan today (Kate Smart).
Four minke whales (3 adults and a calf) put on a very impressive display around Neist from (at least) 2pm until 6pm. They were approaching to within 30 yards of the shore and repeatedly breaching their heads, allowing even such detail as their eyes to be viewed from the rocks. Their 'blows' could be heard distinctly. The waters are so clear that, from our vantage point, we could see the animals as they swam side-by-side underneath the water. They were primarily feeding off the end of the point but also approached closely into the coves on the Northern side.
Also, at Neist Point today were 3 Bonxies, 10 Manx Shearwaters (heading North), 3 puffins, a 'bridled' guillemot, a single cormorant and a pair of stonechats.
Late afternoon today: There was a bonxie attacking gulls off the seaward side of Lower Milovaig, even driving a great black-back to crash into the sea; a single red-throated diver and a single puffin were both very close to the pier at Meanish, giving superb views.
There were eleven grey seals basking on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel at low tide.
Incredibly, between 8pm and 9:30pm, two minke whales (an adult and a calf) were feeding close to the seaward-side of Meanish Pier, to the delight of several observers at the shore. Amazingly, they even came right inside Loch Pooltiel, level with the moored boats, where both actually breached their heads out of the water. The sounds of them blowing, whenever they surfaced, were carrying all over Milovaig.
There was also a report today that two minke whales were giving good, but distant, views from Neist Point.
There were at least two harbour porpoises again in the Minch viewed from Meanish Pier from 9:30pm onwards.
A pair of peregrine falcons came over Lower Milovaig at around 9am. There were also two house martins over crofts 2 and 4 Lower Milovaig throughout the day. These were the first house martins we have seen in Glendale this year.
There was a single red-throated diver off Meanish Pier from 9:30pm onwards.
There were two harbour porpoise working their way slowly across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel from 9:30pm until 10pm, giving excellent views from Lower Milovaig.
It rained in Glendale this afternoon for the first time in 6 weeks.
AMI: 300, all evening (midge hood required, even inside the polytunnel)
A pair of otters put on a tremendous show this evening catching eels and small fish off the seaward side of Meanish Pier. From 9pm until dark, they were fishing over a wide area but several times came right up to the shoreline beside the shed, despite the fact that there were several tourists milling around at the pier. At one stage, a lady tourist, with a camera around her neck, wandered along the beach, totally oblivious to the fact that she was standing within 15 feet of an otter that was quite openly sitting on top of a rock, eating a crab.
AMI: still 0
There are still large numbers of kittiwakes and razorbills feeding on the water around Meanish Pier, with 100+ razorbills and 100+ kittiwakes there this evening. There were also 3 puffins around the pier, with one actually feeding amongst the moored boats, very close to the slipway, late evening.
There was a single bonxie harassing gulls in Oisgill Bay mid-morning. There was a late white wagtail on the burn below the bottom road in Upper Milovaig late afternoon. There are currently significant numbers of gannets, kittiwakes and razorbills feeding close in-shore along the Neist, Waterstein and Milovaig cliffs, with 300+ kittiwakes surface-feeding off Meanish Pier late afternoon.
Two common seals and five grey seals were basking on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel, late afternoon.
Both a golden eagle and an adult white-tailed eagle were seen hunting on the Glendale Estate today.
There was a red-throated diver off Meanish Pier just before dusk.
There was a singing male common whitethroat in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig this morning, another first for us in Glendale. A black-throated diver flew past Meanish Pier out into the Minch at 9:45pm.
A lovely pair of otters were doing synchronised diving off the White Beach at Lower Milovaig from 10pm onwards.
Lower Milovaig's two carnivorous plant species, butterworts and round-leaved sundews, are currently flowering and 'hunting' near the Pier.
There was a small pod of 3+ harbour porpoise feeding on the fish shoals at the mouth of Loch Pooltiel at 10pm. Unusually, a common seal was hauled out on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel at sunset. Common seals are now rarely seen in Loch Pooltiel, although the more numerous grey seals are present daily in the Loch.
AMI: 150 (6:30pm-7:30pm).
A large shoal of fish feeding close to the surface at Meanish Pier this evening had attracted 10 razorbills and a single puffin.
There were two grey seals on the white beach at Lower Milovaig at dusk. Four pipistrelle bats were feeding amongst spruces at 2 Lower Milovaig, late evening, together with two larger bats that intriguingly were observed to head off North, out towards the Minch, as far as they could be followed with binoculars.
AMI: 84 (7-8pm).
There was a cormorant in Moonen Bay today, sunning itself on rocks with a group of 24 shags. This is the first cormorant we have ever seen in Glendale, although Bob at Skye-birds.com says there are small colonies in the South of the island. There were two stonechats and two grey wagtails at Waterstein.
Three grey seals were basking on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel at lunchtime.
There was an otter fishing a few hundred yards out to sea off Meanish Pier at 8pm and two razorbills just off-shore there at the same time.
There were two unidentified terns (common/arctic) diving off Skinidin at 8am. Two black-throated divers flew into Loch Pooltiel from the Minch late evening. There was a single red-throated diver on Loch Pooltiel all evening. There were four puffins on the water off Meanish Pier, late evening. A goldfinch was using the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig today.
The first heath spotted orchids, butterwort and bog cotton have begun to flower. The bluebells are in full bloom.
The midges have begun biting today in Lower Milovaig, exactly the same day that they began biting last year.
*I'm going to start a new feature this year that I shall call 'Andy's Midge Index' (or AMI for short), which will be the average number of midge bites that I receive per hour whilst working in the garden. This evening's AMI was 2.5 bites per hour.
The first fledglings are beginning to leave their nests, with a family group of house sparrows on the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig today. There was a red admiral butterfly at Lower Milovaig for the first time this year. A pair of dippers are feeding young in a nest at a burn on the Glendale Estate.
There is now a second Early Purple Orchid in bloom in Lower Milovaig. The bluebells are now coming into bloom and the fields are filled with primroses and violets.
There was a young grey seal pup hauled out onto the slipway at Meanish Pier for an hour or so before dusk.
There was a singing male Sedge Warbler behind June's tea-shop (An Strupag) at lunchtime, another first for Glendale. There was a red-throated diver and a pair of red-breasted merganser on Loch Pooltiel, viewed from Pollosgan. There was a single sand martin on the Hamara River at Lephin. There were 10 siskins at Lephin and a pair using the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig. There were a pair of Golden Plovers at Borrowdale, a pair of linnets at Pollosgan and a cuckoo at Hamara Lodge.
Alas, no sign of the tree sparrow today.
The lone tree sparrow has continued to visit the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig throughout the day, in the company of two female house sparrows. There were four golden plovers on the white beach at Milovaig, which flew off South early morning. There was a singing male blackcap in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig, our first ever Spring record here. Also in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig throughout the day were four twite and a pair of linnets. Another unusual first today was a woodpigeon, which flew North over Lower Milovaig mid-morning.
There was an otter fishing at the end of the slipway at Meanish Pier at 9:30pm.
A single Early Purple Orchid is in bloom in Lower Milovaig. This species is extremely rare in Milovaig and this is the only known specimen.
A very scarce visitor to Glendale (and Skye) was a tree sparrow, which alighted briefly on the bird table at 2 Lower Milovaig at 8pm. The whimbrel is still present (on the white beach at Lower Milovaig mid morning).
There was a very confiding otter giving superb views, within 30 feet, at Oisgill Bay late morning.
There was a single puffin in Oisgill Bay late morning. The first cuckoo of the year was calling across the Glen late evening. There were nine white wagtails and two female pied wagtails at the Pier and the whimbrel was, again, giving excellent views right beside the slipway at Meanish Pier, late evening.
There were three white wagtails at Meanish Pier early evening, our first of the year, with a female pied. A single whimbrel was giving tremendous views feeding in puddles at the pier and has been 'trilling' regularly throughout the day. Also feeding at the pier were a pair of twite. The chiffchaff is still present in the spruces at 2 Lower Milovaig.
There were eight grey seals basking on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel at low water.
There was a singing male chiffchaff in the spruces at 2 Lower Milovaig this morning, our first of the year, and our first sighting in Milovaig for two years.
There was a pair of whimbrels at Meanish Pier at 7:30pm, which trilled upon being disturbed and then flew out onto the skerries. The first swallows of the year arrived today with one on the Yellow Hill in Upper Milovaig and another near Meanish Pier.
The road around Meanish Pier at Milovaig was closed today for the filming of a TV Commercial for the new Volvo XC90R. More details.
There was a whimbrel at the shoreline just beyond Meanish pier, on the seaward side of Lower Milovaig, late evening, and a single red-throated diver off-shore at the same point. There were two otters playing together in the water, and fishing, just off the White Beach at Lower Milovaig at dusk.
A BTO TTV to Neist Point this morning produced some interesting sightings: 2 bonxies (great skuas), 4 puffins (very close in-shore, catching sprats), 66 Manx Shearwaters (flocks of 30 and 33 moving South, with others surface-feeding very close to the point). There was a red-throated diver and three eider ducks in Moonen Bay. A stoat was hunting along the concrete path at the lighthouse.
Counts of occupied sea-bird nests comprised: 96 Fulmar nests, 7 Shag nests, 47 Kittiwake nests and 2 Herring Gull nests.
A single collared dove briefly at the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig was very unusual.
The first violets have begun to bloom at Neist and Milovaig.
The number of linnets using the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig has now increased to six. A common sandpiper was calling near Meanish Pier early evening, our first arrival of the year.
A pair of linnets were using the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig, early evening. There was a single golden eagle soaring low over Sam Thorburn's house on the Ramasaig road at 7pm.
Our first willow warbler of the year arrived in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig this morning. The redwings also disappeared overnight.
There was a significant fall of meadow pipits in Milovaig today, with many large flocks around (including 60 at the Pier, two flocks of 40 and a flock of 30 along the bottom road and many smaller groups of 4-10). The sheep paircs were literally covered with them! I would estimate that there were around 250-300 birds present.
As you might expect with such a buffet laid on, there was a superb male merlin hunting them below the bottom road late afternoon. A golden eagle was also putting on a good show, soaring around the cliffs at Waterstein, late afternoon and being mobbed by buzzards.
There was an otter fishing the area between the skerries and the White Beach at Lower Milovaig between 7pm and 8pm. There were 4 grey seals basking at the shoreline on the White Beach at Lower Milovaig all evening.
The singing redwing flock in the spruces at 2 Lower Milovaig is now making an incredibly loud noise. There were around 30 Black Guillemots on Loch Pooltiel during the evening, which is one of the highest counts we have had. Wheatears are now all over in Glendale.
There were three adult black-headed gulls on the white beach at Lower Milovaig, the first sighting this year.
A large mixed skein of 120, presumably, greylag geese and 30 whooper swans came over Lower Milovaig at 7pm, heading North. They were flying together in formation.
The pipistrelle bats in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig have been on the wing in daylight, over an hour before dusk, allowing them to be observed very clearly.
A herd of 21 whooper swans flew North over Lower Milovaig at 7:45am. There was also a report of a pair of haggis digging a burrow at Ramasaig, which is the first sighting in this area since the evening of January 25th (NLikely).
Better late than never; the wheatears are back! There was a singing male above the bottom road in Lower Milovaig and a pair above the top road in Upper Milovaig. Also, making a welcome return today are the gannets, with several birds coming into Loch Pooltiel late afternoon. The twite have also returned today. There was a flock of 20 meadow pipits near Meanish Pier and the flock of 12 skylarks have moved around to the seaward end of Lower Milovaig.
The first lambs have been appearing this weekend, a month early, with one on the Yellow Hill in Upper Milovaig and another at Hamaraverein.
A skein of 25 whooper swans flew North over Lower Milovaig at 10am. A good sign that spring migration is back under way, now that the wind direction is more favourable.
There was a pair of red-breasted mergansers off the White Beach at Lower Milovaig at 7:30am.
There was an otter fishing at the seaward-side of Meanish Pier between 6:45pm and 7:15pm, that came ashore onto the cobbles.
A lovely evening, with a flat, calm sea made it possible to see a very early Minke Whale out in the Minch off Meanish Pier, which surfaced several times between 6:30pm and 7pm.
The first bumblebee of the year was on the wing in Milovaig today, gathering nectar from the flowering currants. This is a day earlier than last year, in spite of the Baltic weather conditions over the Easter weekend.
At around 8am, an immature white-tailed eagle came low over the White Beach at Lower Milovaig and slowly made its way along the bottom road to the Pier. It crossed Loch Pooltiel and alighted on the cliffs at Dunvegan Head, right and then left of the large waterfall. It flew back across to Lower Milovaig, where it soared at roof-top height over the sheep paircs below the bottom road, before making its way over the Yellow Hill towards Ferinquarrie at 8:30am. The bird was tagged but unfortunately we could not make out the colour/numbers due to the sun glinting on them.
Our resident pair of buzzards at Lower Milovaig were making repairs to their nest this morning, a sign that our wildlife is continuing to make preparations for Spring, in spite of the ferocious arctic blast that we are currently experiencing.
There was a light sprinkling of snow overnight in Glendale, down to around 50m amsl.
There was a male red-breasted merganser on the loch outside The Three Chimneys at Colbost just before 6pm.
There is currently a flock of 12 skylarks below the bottom road in Lower Milovaig, which has been there since yesterday.
There was an adult white-tailed eagle over Cnoc Leinish (near Totaig) at 5:50pm, which was being mobbed by gulls. It gradually made its way along the shore through Colbost. The whimbrel was roosting on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel at dusk.
The over-wintering whimbrel made a brief re-appearance on the White Beach at Lower Milovaig, mid-afternoon. There was a single gannet off-shore at Meanish, mid-afternoon.
There were six grey seals basking on the skerries in the morning sunshine. There was a flock of 10 skylarks at Lower Milovaig, mid-morning. The first lesser celandines are in bloom in Milovaig.
Our first lesser black-backed gulls of the year arrived today, with two at Lephin at 6pm.
There was a red deer hind grazing on the lawn of Skye Silver at Colbost at 5:45pm, which was literally within a few feet of the windows.
There was a dusting of snow down to sea-level in Glendale last night, with some snow flurries still occurring in the morning.
There was a report of some large flocks of skylarks coming in, with 40 at Waterstein and 15 at Ramasaig (RMcMillan).
There was a lovely barn owl hunting around the walled garden at Hamara Lodge at 00:15 hours. There was a young red deer buck at the roadside at Uig (near Borreraig) at 2:15am. The pair of whimbrels are still present around the bottom road in Lower Milovaig, now in the company of two curlews, but haven't been showing until mid-afternoon. They are roosting on Sgurr Mhor, as I write this (6pm). There was a single black-throated diver off the skerries in Loch Pooltiel just before dark.
The whimbrel was proving elusive today,with no sign of it until 5pm, when it re-appeared below the bottom road on croft 1 Lower Milovaig, with an incredible second whimbrel and a curlew. There was also an influx of returning skylarks today, with 4 in Lower Milovaig being the first there this year (ten days later than last year).
There was a cracking whimbrel feeding with the oystercatchers on the flooded sheep paircs below the bottom road in Lower Milovaig (crofts 1, 2 and 4) from early morning until the mid-afternoon low-tide, when it could not be re-located.
There was a flock of 13 oystercatchers feeding at the White Beach in Lower Milovaig mid-morning.
There were two whooper swans on Loch Eishort at mid-day. The first primrose is in flower near the pier in Milovaig and the first daffodils have opened in Milovaig. There were three grey seals basking on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel at low tide. There was a flock of 23 chaffinches at the boat house, near Meanish Pier, late afternoon.
I had information (CGray) that a flock of snow buntings had over-wintered at the first sheep fank on the Ramasaig road but they were not there yesterday and there was no sign of them today.
There were 16 grey seals basking on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel, late morning. There were a pair of stonechats in Upper Milovaig, close to the Carters' Rest, mid-afternoon.
There were a pair of stonechats near Oisgill Bay late morning. The redwing is continuing to sing its full song every evening just before dusk, in the spruces at 2 Lower Milovaig.
Spring is coming at a pace, due to the stunning, warm weather over the last few days. The first bat of the year, an early pipistrelle, was flying in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig at dusk. There was also a redwing in full song there for half an hour before dark.
There was an adult white-tailed eagle soaring low over the B884 at Skinidin at 7:55am, gradually making its way inland.
There was a female stonechat outside The Carters' Rest in Upper Milovaig mid-morning.
Highlight of the day, though, was a very vocal and confiding whimbrel at Neist Point. Also, at Neist Point today were: an immature gannet, the first skylark of the year, there were 109 fulmars on the nesting ledges, 5 eider ducks, 33 guillemots, 20 black guillemots and 4 razorbills.
There was a male stonechat at Waterstein at 1pm. There were five grey seals basking on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel at low tide and there was a woodcock, again, in the garden at 1 Lower Milovaig mid-afternoon.
There was a flock of 8 curlews below the bottom road in Lower Milovaig mid-afternoon. There was a woodcock circling around gardens at 1 & 2 Lower Milovaig at dusk. There was a redwing singing in the spruces at 2 Lower Milovaig mid-afternoon.
There were four red deer hinds grazing openly at the roadside in Skinidin at 7:50am.
There was a snipe beside the top road in Upper Milovaig mid afternoon, in front of the Lighthouse Keeper's Cottage. There were two curlews on the White Beach at Lower Milovaig most of the day.
There were several meadow pipits in Lower Milovaig today for the first time this year.
The snow stayed until late afternoon. You can see a few photos on the Winter page.
There was a snipe caught in the headlights on the bottom road in Upper Milovaig at 5:50pm.
Blizzards of sleet and snow throughout the day, together with sub-zero temperatures have left Glendale under a 2 inch deep blanket of frozen snow this evening. Roads are treacherous but passable with care.
There was an otter fishing at the shoreline in Lower Milovaig from mid-afternoon onwards, which was catching and eating pipefish. It caught around 8 in the time we watched it from the bottom road. There was also a second otter fishing the shoreline at the seaward-side of the pier at the same time.
There was a black-throated diver off Meanish Pier and five curlew below the top road in Lower Milovaig, late afternoon. The redwings are still singing on croft 2 Lower Milovaig, with 30 birds present this afternoon.
There was a woodcock caught in the car headlights at Skinidin at 7:50am.
There was a flock of around 20 redwings singing in spruces on croft 2 Lower Milovaig late afternoon. This is exceptionally early for this behaviour to begin, as it is usually a feature of flocks on return migration. The singing did not begin until April last year.
There are other signs of Spring, as the snowdrops in Milovaig and Waterstein have opened this week, a week earlier than last year.
The golden eagles are still showing well around the crags of Waterstein Head. At Loch Mor, Waterstein today there were 5 goosander, 5 goldeneye, 1 tufted duck, 1 lapwing and 6 redshank. There was also a flock of 8 rock pipits beside the Waterstein road.
Black guillemots are currently in moult, as there were two on Loch Pooltiel today of which one was in full breeding plumage and the other was in winter plumage but showing slight blackening of the feathers on its rump/back. No sign of the long-tailed duck today, unfortunately.
There was a simply stunning male long-tailed duck diving between the shore and skerries in Loch Pooltiel late afternoon, giving fantastic views from the bottom road in Lower Milovaig. This is the first time we have ever recorded long-tailed duck on Loch Pooltiel and it had no doubt come in to shelter from the storm.
There was a male goldeneye on Loch Pooltiel, close to the black beach at Ferinquarrie, late morning.
There were four grey seals hauled up on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel at low-tide.
There was a woodcock in the stand of Scots pines near Meanish Pier at 3pm and there is still a woodcock over-wintering in gardens at 1/2 Lower Milovaig. A flock of 6 curlews is still frequenting the paircs below the top road in Lower Milovaig. Black guillemots are back in residence, as there have generally been at least two on Loch Pooltiel every day since the end of December.
There were two black-throated divers on Loch Pooltiel at lunchtime, giving good views from the bottom road in Lower Milovaig. Most unusually, there was a lone lapwing in Upper Milovaig mid-afternoon.
There was a red deer doe beside the B884 at Skinidin at 8:10am. The cold weather is clearly bringing them down into the townships at night.
There was a red deer doe in the bealach between Fasach and Skye Silver at 10:30am (AlS). There was a single otter fishing off the skerries in Loch Pooltiel at 2:30pm (AlS, DHampson).
The weather has turned very cold with heavy sleet tonight in Glendale this evening and a light covering on the roads in the Borve/Portree area this morning.
There was a flock of 20 fieldfares beside the top road on crofts 9/10 Upper Milovaig mid-afternoon. This is the first flock of fieldfares that we have recorded in Glendale this winter and was an indicator that the weather was about to get colder.
There was a single red-throated diver off Sgurr Mhor in Loch Pooltiel mid-afternoon and a flock of 7 curlews beside the bottom road on croft 4 Lower Milovaig at the same time.
*AMI = Andy's Midge Index (mean number of bites per hour).