Find out what's around in Glendale, Isle of Skye, with our regularly updated wildlife sighting and nature reports.
If you see any interesting or unusual wildlife in the Glendale area, please or give Andy a call on (01470) 511354.
For the very latest information about recent bird sightings on the Isle of Skye, please visit Bob McMillan's excellent Skye Birds web-site.
I have set up a Facebook page, Glendale Skye Auroras, to provide alerts and information about sightings of the Northern Lights in Glendale, as we are now at the peak of solar activity and likely to see regular auroras in 2012 and 2013.
Click the "like" button above if you want to receive regular updates and remember to "share" with your friends.
A white-tailed eagle skimmed at almost ground level along the cliff at the top of crofts 3, 2 and 1 Lephin at 9am. It almost landed on croft 2 before continuing towards Hamaraverin.
There was a beautiful male stonechat on the top road in Lower Milovaig, early afternoon. There was a white-tailed eagle patrolling the cliffs on the Lower Milovaig Grazings at 1:30pm and later seen out over the sea across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel, before heading onto Dunvegan Head at 2:15pm.
Eighteen grey seals basking on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel this afternoon was the highest count for some time.
Glendale was battered by a storm between 4am and 7am this morning, with a maximum wind gust of 66 mph (106.2 km/h) recorded at Lower Milovaig and over half an inch of rain falling before sunrise.
Later, from 3pm onwards, we were hit by another, more ferocious storm with winds gusting up to 83 mph (133.5 km/h) at 11pm and over 40mm of rain fell over the glen in the day.
A juvenile white-tailed eagle flew low up the middle of Loch Pooltiel, from the pier to Beinn Bhuidhe, at 10:15am before veering across to, and landing on, Scorr Farm.
There was a small pod of 3+ harbour porpoises off Neist Point at 11am.
Highlight of the day was a pair of slavonian grebes on the Scorr Farm side of Loch Pooltiel at 10am. Our resident pair of white-tailed eagles were circling low over the bottom road in Lower Milovaig, the white beach and Beinn Bhuidhe before heading off towards the seaward end of the Milovaig loop at 9:05am. There was a red-throated diver on Loch Pooltiel all day. The first returning black guillemot (still in winter plumage) was back on Loch Pooltiel at mid-day.
Two gannets flew North past Neist Point in the morning, which is extremely rare in winter. There was a superb male hen harrier hunting around the car park area at Neist at mid-day that put up a flock of 70 fieldfares. There was a red-throated diver and 3 eiders in Moonen Bay, late morning. There are no fulmars back on the nesting ledges at Neist yet, although they will be returning imminently. There were seven goldeneye and 1 redshank at Loch Mor at mid-day.
Christmas Day was a washout in Glendale with over half an inch of rain and all the burns & the Hamara River heaving with water.
A lone lapwing, heading West over Loch Pooltiel, landed above the bottom road in Lower Milovaig at around 1:30pm. It is very rare to see lapwings in Glendale outside the breeding season. There was a single red-throated diver at Meanish Pier at 12:45pm
There was a red deer hind grazing openly beside the road at Hamaraverin at 9am this morning. The same hind was grazing at exactly the same place and time yesterday morning too.
There was a woodcock circling beside the Colbost straight at 8am.
There was a very late male blackcap in her garden at Upper Milovaig this morning (Anna Cleland).
Our resident pair of white-tailed eagles put on a fantastic display over Meanish Pier at 2pm, circling in very low, tight turns with frequent lunges at each other.
Last night's aurora borealis (Northern Lights) continued into the early hours of this morning and the greens intensified after midnight.
It was a bitterly cold day, with a thick frost in the morning and showers of sleet & snow in the afternoon. By 3pm, there was a dusting of snow on all the higher grazing areas around the glen.
There was a faint display of the aurora borealis over Glendale between 11pm and midnight. It was one of the weaker auroras that we've experienced this winter and only just visible to the naked eye, being very low to the horizon. Better on camera than to the naked eye.
We were also experiencing the Geminid Meteor Shower, with up to 2 shooting stars per minute streaking overhead.
A woodcock was flushed from the roadside at Colbost at 8am.
It was a very beautiful, frosty morning in Glendale. Roads were good all the way to Portree but it was very cold: ‑1.5°C at Milovaig & Lephin, falling to ‑4.5°C at Skinidin & Dunvegan.
There were two red deer stags grazing openly beside the road at Borrodale School at 8am.
Our resident pair of white-tailed eagles were soaring extremely low over the white beach at Lower Milovaig at 11:45am and then gradually drifted along the bottom road towards the pier. They remained in Lower Milovaig until at least 2pm, being seen patrolling the cliffs at the seaward end of Milovaig, in the pier area and over Loch Pooltiel/White Beach during the afternoon. There was a flock of 8 goosanders off the white beach at 12:45pm (2 males and 6 females).
Our resident sub-adult white-tailed eagle was soaring low over Beinn Bhuidhe, Upper Milovaig at 1:45pm, gradually drifting towards Borrodale. There was a group of 8 long-tailed tits in the brae, late morning, and a mistle thrush on the Kinloch/Glendale road at Dunvegan.
The glen largely escaped the weather this morning but over the brae it was a different story! The single-track was covered in thin snow and ice through Colbost, Skinidin and onwards to Fairy Bridge; ungritted and extremely treacherous. Then you hit "winter wonderland" at Bernisdale with accumulations of snow up to 2-3cm on the roads around Borve and Portree. Traffic moving very slowly and took 70 minutes for the usual 30 minute commute to Portree this morning.
Sub-zero temperatures caused the first real ice problems of the winter on the roads this morning. Untreated roads were lethal, with the Holmisdale Road by the Post Office and the Kinloch/Glendale Road at Dunvegan being extremely bad before 8am.
There was a dipper on the wide burn that runs under the top road in Upper Milovaig at mid-day. There was a mistle thrush in MacDougal's Spruces, Lower Milovaig at 11am. There were a pair of red-throated divers off Meanish Pier, late morning. There was a flock of 40 fieldfares on the bottom road in Upper Milovaig at 12:30pm.
There are still a few late meadow pipits lingering in the glen, with four at Glasphein and a single at Lephin, late morning.
A beautiful sunny day in Glendale punctuated by heavy sleet and hail showers. The mountains on the Western Isles were white with snow.
There were a pair of goosanders off the black beach at Ferinquarrie, late morning.
The aurora borealis was visible again in the early hours of this morning, being at its brightest between 12:45am and 1:30am. This photo shows the view from Lephin across to Ferinquarrie and was taken at 1:05am.
More photos of the Northern Lights taken this morning are available here.
There is still a great spotted woodpecker visiting feeders in Mairi Fawkes's garden at Fasach (per skye-birds.com).
We are expecting the aurora borealis to be visible this evening and an even better display tomorrow night.
There has been a lone black-headed gull hanging around Lephin and Fasach all week. There was a white-tailed eagle soaring over Scorr Farm / Ferinquarrie at 3:30pm.
A geomagnetic storm between 7pm and 10pm gave some tantalising glimpses of the aurora borealis between gaps in the cloud. The display continued until at least midnight. This would have been a fantastic display, had we not been covered in thick cloud all night. See my aurora borealis gallery for some better photos.
There was a very late gannet off the seaward end of the Milovaig loop, late morning.
There was a late chiffchaff in the garden at Lephin Cottage at mid-day.
Please let me know if you are getting bored of the aurora borealis. We seem to be over-dosing on them just now. This was totally unexpected. There were no indicators that any aurora would be visible tonight but it was glowing to the eye at 11:25pm but taking very faint photos. Ten minutes later it was gone.
There was a white-tailed eagle over croft 2 Lephin at 10am being dive-bombed by every corvid in the village. It made its way over the cemetery to Glasphein and then on over the hill towards Husabost.
The aurora borealis was just visible between 7pm and 7:30pm this evening, as we caught the tail-end of a strong geomagnetic storm that hit the earth at 3am this morning. This is the third consecutive night that the aurora has been visible in Glendale.
For the second night in a row the aurora borealis was visible over Glendale. It began penetrating the cloud at around 9:30pm and was quite vivid between 9:45pm and 10pm before being blotted out again by heavy cloud. Skies cleared again at 11pm and treated us to a beautiful aurora that was over 50% orange, so looked very faint to the naked eye but was good on camera (photo #3).
A weak aurora borealis was visible over Glendale from around 10pm onwards. This is our fifth aurora in the last five weeks and had been forecast for a couple of days. We were hampered by cloud to the North but the aurora was bright enough to penetrate thinner cloud, as seen in photo #3 taken at 11:30pm. The light intensity was very erratic ranging from bright, to barely visible, within a matter of seconds.
Mairi Fawkes is again hosting another very rare bird in her garden at Fasach, with a female great spotted woodpecker feeding on fatballs.
There was a beautiful male hen harrier hunting around Lower Milovaig all morning. It was initially seen at Meanish Pier and then located again later on the top road hunting through the gardens.
There was a flock of 14 waxwings in the garden at 8 Upper Milovaig at mid-day. Look out for these beautiful siberian visitors on any berry-bearing trees around the glen. There was a peregrine falcon hunting below the top road in Lower Milovaig and a snipe flushed at the roadside on the top road in Lower Milovaig.
There was an otter fishing the shoreline off the seaward end of the milovaig loop, late morning. There was a harbour porpoise in the mouth of Loch Pooltiel and a pod of 30+ common dolphins were breaching and splashing out in the Minch off Lower Milovaig, late morning.
Over 27mm of rain fell between midnight and 10am. All of the burns and the Hamara had burst their banks. There was a thin covering of snow on MacLeod's Tables for the first time this year and it lingered all day.
There was a flock of 60 meadow pipits on croft 2 Lephin, late morning, and a flock of 40 fieldfares flew over Lephin heading towards Ferinquarrie at mid-day.
The aurora borealis was very faintly visible from 11:15pm onwards. It can just be seen as a faint green arc running across the right of the photos. The aurora was caused by a geomagnetic storm that had started in the afternoon but unfortunately coincided with some awful wet, cloudy skies in Glendale. The aurora was fading by the time the skies cleared and the near-full moon washed away much of the colour.
There was an immature male stonechat in the garden at An Acarsaid Cottage, Upper Milovaig at 10:30am. There were a pair of adult stonechats above the top road on croft 13 Lower Milovaig, mid afternoon.
There was a huge fall of fieldfares in Holmisdale today, following on from a big fall at Torrin yesterday reported on skye-birds.com. There were at least 1500 fieldfares, plus just a handful of redwings, stripping rowans around Holmisdale House. We have never seen fieldfares on this scale in Glendale before.
The red deer are heading down from the hills. There were two stags in the brae near Skye Silver at 8am (Alison Stables).
Our pair of white-tailed eagles were putting on a good show around Meanish Pier, late afternoon. The sub-adult bird did a spectacular low pass over the salt store at 4pm that was so low that the terminal band on its tail could be clearly seen with the naked eye.
There was a flock of 30 fieldfares on croft 2 Lephin at dawn that headed off towards Fasach.
The satellite-tagged red kite spent another day in Husabost before heading back to the mainland.
The first four fieldfares to reach Glendale this winter were on croft 2 Lephin at 6pm. A satellite-tagged red kite has made its way to Glendale and was tracked on the Husabost Estate today.
Our resident pair of white-tailed eagles were circling over Loch Pooltiel and patrolling the cliff-tops along Scorr Farm at mid-day.
There was a group of 8 pipistrelle bats feeding together outside Ceiteag's Café at 7pm.
There was a flock of 14 long-tailed tits below the Holmisdale road on croft 2 and 3 Lephin, late morning.
Frosted again this morning. Down to -0.5° at Lephin. I think that must be a record for this time of year, scraping the windscreen three times in one week.
More birds on the move, with a flock of 12 whooper swans heading East over Beinn Bhuidhe, Upper Milovaig, in the evening (Clare Gray). Our white-tailed eagle duo were putting on another display, flying very low, over the bottom road in Lower Milovaig at around 5:20pm, before heading off towards Upper Milovaig.
Another stunning frosty morning. Unusual to have to scrape the car windscreen two mornings in a row. -1°C at Lephin and -2°C at Dunvegan.
More winter thrushes are arriving now with flocks of 11 redwings and 8 blackbirds on the bottom road in Lower Milovaig, late evening.
A beautiful frosty morning, +0.5°C at Lephin and -1.5°C at Dunvegan. The car windscreen needed scraping.
There was snow on the Storr and Cuillins for the first time this winter in the morning.
The aurora borealis was visible, but again very weak, over Glendale from 10:15pm onwards. The Aurorawatch status was showing 'yellow'. The camera was capturing some bright orange patches, together with greens.
Aurora watchers last night, around the world (like ourselves in Glendale), were seeing extraordinary colours and pulses the like of which have never been seen before.
For more details see the Facebook page Glendale Skye Auroras, which I have just set up to post alerts and photos. Remember to "like" the page if you want to receive news and information about auroras on Skye.
A weak aurora borealis was visible to the naked eye again in the early hours of this morning and coming up green on the camera but we were hampered by cloud out to the North. There were some intense orange flares a few degrees above the horizon, which are just visible in this photo. Also, just captured in the photo is a faint orange patch above Dunvegan Head. This was only a minor geo-magnetic storm over Glendale and activity had faded significantly by 01:00 hours.
There was a flock of 12 snow buntings on the shore at Meanish Pier, late morning, that flew off across Loch Pooltiel to the shore on Scorr Farm side. The first woodcock of the winter was in the garden at 1 Lower Milovaig, late afternoon. A juvenile white-tailed eagle was circling off Dunvegan Head, late morning, gradually working its way down the coast towards Neist and the same bird was seen at 1pm directly over the bottom road in Lower Milovaig, heading towards Upper Milovaig. There was a goldcrest in MacDougal's Spruces and another in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig, which would be incoming migrants as we have had no goldcrests in Milovaig since last autumn.
The aurora borealis was visible again over Glendale, although much fainter than on Monday/Tuesday. There were a few bright flares and the occasional column. Intriguingly, the camera was capturing the colours as predominantly red, orange and purple, rather than green like in the earlier show this week. The photo illustrates just how much fainter the light intensity is but the flares and columns could be seen with the naked eye. The lights were visible between 10:45pm and midnight.
There has been a slow trickle of winter thrushes onto the island since mid September but none had reached Glendale until the first redwings arrived with us this morning: a group of 18 at Lephin.
Solar wind from a hole in the sun's atmosphere is expected to hit the earth on Sunday or Monday (14th-15th). This is likely to trigger a geomagnetic storm, giving us another display of the aurora borealis. Currently the weather forecast is showing clear skies for Sunday, so fingers crossed.
There was a fantastic display of the aurora borealis in the early hours of this morning with a peak of light intensity at around 1am. Between 1:45am and 2:30am there was spectacular activity, although the light intensity was lower, with waves of light blazing across the sky.
The electromagnetic storm rose to 'red' status on aurorawatch between midnight and 2am before dropping back to high amber status until 3am.
This is the second intense aurora we have experienced this year and we expect many more over this winter and next, as the sun is in the peak of its activity in the solar cycle.
Colours were predominently green with some purple patches. There were some extremely bright flares and one 'twister' as seen in the 2nd photo.
The aurora borealis was visible over Glendale this evening reaching its peak of light intensity at around 10:15pm. It was not as bright as other auroras over the last 12 months due to visibility being hampered by thin cloud.
Most activity was low over the horizon, North to North-East, with a number of low bright flares, as captured in the photos. Colours remained primarily green fading to purple at greater elevations above the horizon.
The intensity of the storm was rated at 'amber' on aurorawatch until midnight.
For photos of the really spectacular aurora in April click here.
Another amazing show from our white-tailed eagle duo, early afternoon. They flew North across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel and then spent over 30 minutes soaring in front of the cliffs between Dunvegan Head and the big waterall. A couple of times the pair were attacked by two golden eagles with some spectacular mid-air acrobatics from the goldies as they tried to flip the WTEs. There was a late flock of 18 twites and a single linnet on the bottom road in Lower Milovaig. There was a single red-throated diver on Loch Pooltiel. Still lots of gannets off-shore at Milovaig but auks all gone now.
There was a white-tailed eagle circling low over Borrodale at 12:30pm.
There were two pairs of red-breasted mergansers off the white beach at Lower Milovaig at 7:45am.
Five late swallows were still at Lephin today.
Our two white-tailed eagles just seem to like showing off! At 5pm, they came low off the Lephin Grazings over croft 2 Lephin, then they spectacularly lunged at each other and pirouetted directly over Lephin Cottage before repeating this same manoeuvre above the Community Hall. They repeatedly lunged at each other as they continued across the glen and over onto the Glaphein Grazings. There were still a family of swallows feeding young on croft 2 Lephin this afternoon.
There was a thick, white frost in Glendale this morning, our first of the autumn. The car windscreen had to be scraped and temperatures ranged from 2°C at Milovaig down to 0.5°C at Lephin at 7:00am.
Our pair of white-tailed eagles put on another amazing display over the bottom road in Lower Milovaig at around 12:30pm. They were initially circling over Beinn Bhuidhe before drifting over the white beach and Loch Pooltiel. Finally, they made their way along the bottom road towards Borrodale.
There was an otter at the shore in front of The Three Chimneys in the evening (Rebecca Smith & Martin Page).
There was a late leuchorhoa wheatear outside the Red Roof Café, Holmisdale at 8:30am and another at Waterstein at 10:30am. There were a total of 7 late skylarks, a single bonxie, a juvenile black-headed gull and two common guillemots at Neist Point. There were no other auks and only a handful of fulmars and kittiwakes remained at Neist but there are still plenty of gannets around. At around 12:30pm, an adult and a sub-adult pair of white-tailed eagles were in Moonen Bay, briefly investigated by one of our resident golden eagles, before heading low over the car park at Neist and along the cliff top towards the old coastguard hut. They then returned very low over the footpath on the point itself, giving some amazing close views, before heading south over the sea towards Ramasaig. A flock of 18 whooper swans flew South over Neist Point in the morning, followed in the afternoon by flocks of 30 and 60 greylag geese over Lephin, indicating the start of autumn migration.
There was a late leucorhoa wheatear at Upper Milovaig, late morning. A single grey wagtail flew south along the bottom road in Lower Milovaig at mid-day.
There was a merlin hunting at Hamaraverin, mid morning.
There was a late wheatear of the Northern race in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig at 7:30am.
There was a flock of 24 linnets on croft 2 Lephin at 7:45am.
An important message from Alex Turner of Scottish National Heritage:
We need some help in finding a particular satellite tag that has just fallen off a basking shark near Neist point. We also want to raise awareness of the wider Basking Shark project (see poster at http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/B1113626.pdf)
A flock of around 200 twite on croft 2 Lephin were scattered by a stunning merlin at 7:45am. A pair of white-tailed eagles (an adult and a sub-adult) were circling low at the seaward end of the Milovaig loop at around 10:30am, giving spectacular views as they worked their way slowly over to Scorr Farm. One landed briefly just right of the big waterfall before they went out to sea and head back down the Minch in the direction of Neist. There were a pair of wheatears of the 'leucorhoa' race on the top road in Upper Milovaig, late morning, and another reported from Neist (Bob McMillan & Martin Benson).
The recent wet weather created ideal conditions for fungi and we were able to forage over a kilo of field and horse mushrooms today.
There was a male red-breasted merganser off the white beach at Lower Milovaig, mid-day.
Glendale got its first taste of winter this evening. After a beautiful, sunny day the temperatures fell sharply. By 9pm it felt extremely cold outside and the thermometer in the car was showing 4.5°C at Lephin and 5.5°C at Milovaig.
There were a pair of juvenile stonechats, the male almost moulted into full adult plumage, at the seaward end of the Milovaig loop, early afternoon. The wheatears have all gone now, there were none around the Milovaig loop this afternoon.
There was a family group of 8 red grouse on the Lephin Grazings in the morning and a single bird in a different location in the afternoon (Richard Powell).
An excellent report has just come in that a pod of 3 killer whales (orcas) were close in-shore at Neist Point at 7pm on the 15th. The male came right up to the point and rubbed himself along the rocks. His dorsal fin could clearly be seen to be around 6 feet high. (The Poole Family from Norfolk). Could this be the same pod that were photographed off Muck on June 25th?
Strangely, there was a greenshank standing in the road outside An Acarsaid, Upper Milovaig at 7:30am that flew off onto the adjacent crofts. A grey wagtail flew South along the bottom road in Lower Milovaig at 8am. This is the first grey wagtail in Milovaig since 2010, as this species suffered severely in our last two bad winters. The wheatears are shipping out now back to Africa, with just four stragglers remaining around the Milovaig loop today.
There was a flock of 150 twite feeding on croft 2 Lephin, mid afternoon.
We've had 13.5mm of much needed rain today!
We had less than a millimetre of rain overnight but that was enough to create utter midge hell this evening. There were clouds of midges on our croft at Lephin tonight, the like of which I've never seen before in Glendale.
There was a juvenile cuckoo at Hamaraverin at 7:50am. There was a barn owl at the roadside by Hamara Lodge at 9:30pm.
A juvenile white-tailed eagle flew at roof-top height along the bottom road in Lower Milovaig towards the pier at 7:50am.
It was 'flying ant day' today in Lephin and Milovaig with thousands of red ants on the wing.
Glendale continues to suffer from a severe drought, which has persisted thoughout April, May, June and July. The ground is powder dry down to a depth of 20-30cm. The yield of potatoes has been less than half the norm and there are reports that hay/silage yields are also 50% lower than normal.
There have been far fewer midges than normal and insect numbers, generally, have been down, which means that nesting birds have suffered, with many fewer young birds around than normal. The blackbirds and song thrushes seem to have suffered particularly hard, as the dry, hard ground has made it impossible to find worms.
This is a rainfall comparison between 2011 and 2012:
This is the driest summer on Skye in living memory. We have had day after day of almost relentless sunshine.
There were minke whales, porpoises and a basking shark, all a fair way out off shore at Neist Point today (Ron & Elaine Stores). There are more twite flocks forming, with c.20 on croft 2 Lephin at 8am.
At around 7:15pm, two white-tailed eagles were over Beinn Bhuidhe, Upper Milovaig and then headed off towards Lephin. We are still seeing a lot of peregrine activity around the Glen, one was attacking a raven for several minutes, whilst calling loudly, over croft 2 Lephin at around 1pm.
There is still a lot of peregrine activity around Milovaig, Lephin and Ferinquarrie with up to 3 individuals seen together (Ron & Elaine Stores, Alison Stables).
There was a family of peregrines on the top road in Lower Milovaig all afternoon (Kathy Lindsley). We've been getting a lot of peregrines hunting around Milovaig and Lephin over the last few days and this is obviously because our local pairs are all teaching fledged young to hunt. There have been a pair of stonechats at Cadha Ramasgier on the Lower Milovaig Grazings all summer (Kathy Lindsley). Also, a report that one of our local pair of red-throated divers was seen with two chicks today (Andy Radford).
There was a 'swallow-sized' bat flying around spruces in a garden opposite the Raven Press Gallery between 1:30pm and 2:15pm in the afternoon (Kathy Lindsley).
There was a family of red grouse with 8 young on the slopes of Beinn Chreagach and another family of six in the Hamara river valley (Kathy Lindsley). There was a pair of stonechats in the Hamara river valley (Kathy Lindsley). There was a red deer stag and 16 hinds on Beinn Chreagach (Kathy Lindsley).
The post-breeding flocks of twite are starting to build up now with 30 below the bottom road in Lower Milovaig this evening. A peregrine was hunting below the bottom road just before 7pm before heading across Loch Pooltiel to Scorr Farm.
Two minke whales were seen briefly of Neist Point (Warren Bearpark).
There were minke whales close enough to shore at Neist to hear them blow and also a single basking shark there (Warren Bearpark).
There was an adult white-tailed eagle and a pair of red grouse with six fledglings in the Hamara ravine close to MacLeod's Table North (Neil Bird). There was a juvenile cuckoo on the Fasach Road being mobbed by swallows (Neil Bird).
Has the drought finally broken? We've had some proper, wet rain today... over 20mm by 7pm. Had to dig out the waterproof coat for the first time since March.
There were two minke whales off Neist Point, early morning, with a juvenile surfacing very close to shore at around 9:30am (Alison Tucker).
There were two spotted flycatchers in the garden at Hamara Lodge (Neil Bird).
There was a tawny owl in the trees behind Hamara Lodge at 10:50pm.
There was a late cuckoo perched on power lines beside the road between Lephin and Hamara Lodge for the entire day.
There were three minke whales off Neist Point early evening (Ron Payne).
There was a basking shark of the Moonen Bay side of Neist Point at 3pm and a minke whale off the end of Neist Point at 4:30pm (Ian Tomney).
There was a pod of at least six common dolphins off the seaward end of the Milovaig loop at 5:50pm.
The heath spotted and fragrant orchids are now widely in bloom around Milovaig and Lephin.
...and the rains came properly with 25.9mm falling in one day, more than the entire rainfall we've had in the rest of the month. The main allt mor burn through Upper Milovaig, which had run dry yesterday, had burst its banks by 9pm.
We've had a little welcome rain over the last two days, 2mm yesterday and 8.1mm today, taking the month's total to a meagre 19mm which is only 20% of the normal figure for June. Of course, the downside of warm, damp days is midge hell.
Two bonxies passed over Dunvegan Head at 2:15pm and a red grouse was flushed on the Galtrigill Common Grazings (Kathy Lindsley).
There were three minke whales off Neist Point mid-day, surfacing within 10 metres of the shore at 12:30pm and then further out by 1:30pm.
There were three bonxies (great skuas) at Neist Point but, despite earlier reports, there is no evidence of a nest or any breeding having taken place. There were also a pair of arctic skuas ( a dark phase and a light phase bird) working together attacking kittiwakes off Neist.
There was a single basking shark and a large pod of around 10 harbour porpoises off Rubha Ban on the Lower Milovaig grazings (? Visitors staying in Milovaig).
The first reported minke whales were off Neist Point today, with at least one and probably more (John & Mary Sweasey).
Glendale continues to suffer from a severe drought, which has persisted thoughout April, May and June. The ground is powder dry down to a depth of 10-15cm, the grass is brown and dying in many areas where the soil is shallower.
This is a rainfall comparison between 2011 and 2012:
We have received only a third of the normal rainfall in this quarter and so far this month only 2% of the normal rainfall.
In the last 30 days, we have received only 8.3mm of rain in total.
At 2:30pm our juvenile white-tailed eagle came over 14 Lower Milovaig to the cliff-top and then followed the cliff top, low around towards Rubha Bhan before diving below the cliff out of view.
There was a late report of a quail calling in parks close to Glendale Watermill on Saturday the 9th and also a late whooper swan there on the same day (Andrew Harding).
Andrew Harding has been running a moth trap this week at 2 Holmisdale and recorded the following species: Flame Carpet, Buff Ermine, White Ermine, Small Angle Shades, Flame Shoulder, Clouded-bordered Brindle, Dark Brocade, Dusky Brocade, Pale-shouldered Brocade, Red Twin-spot Carpet, Red-green Carpet, Cream Wave, Shears, Northern Eggar, Foxglove Pug, Common Pug, Silver-ground Carpet, Map-winged Swift, Bright-line Brown-eye, Purple Clay, Broom Moth, Brimstone, Buff Tip, Beautiful Golden Y, Drinker, Small Phoenix and Heart & Dart
UFO : At around 11:10-11:15pm, an unidentified ball of orange light was observed travelling low, relatively slowly and steadily, almost horizontally, across Upper Milovaig in a south-westerly direction between Carters Rest and the Crosses' house before changing colour from orange to black. The object has been described by one observer as like a yellow flame burning below something. This has now been reported independently by three different observers, viewing from Borrodale School and two different locations in Upper Milovaig (AS, SC, AC). [13/06/2012 3:45pm : Mystery solved - It was a chinese lantern released at a birthday party at No. 13 and being blown by the wind. The wind was blowing from the NNE at 17mph at the time]
I heard on June 4th that a tourist had discovered a great skua nest at Neist Point (per Brian Smith and, later, skye-birds.com), which would be the first breeding record for mainland Skye. There have been a pair of young birds at Neist for the last few summers. It takes 7 or 8 years for a bonxie to reach sexual maturity. [23/06/2012 - No evidence was ever found of this reported nest. It is believed that the tourist had simply seen a bird sitting on the grass and assumed it to be on a nest - Andy]
The first heath spotted orchids have begun to flower this weekend at the boat shed by MacDougal's Spruces in Lower Milovaig.
There were two more late arriving house martins feeding with swallows on croft 2 Lephin, early morning.
There was a ruby-tailed wasp (chrysis ignata) in the garden at Lephin Cottage, mid afternoon, which is the first time I have seen one of these beautiful insects on Skye.
Our juvenile white-tailed eagle came off the Lephin Grazings at 9:10am, over Lephin Cottage and then crossed the glen heading towards Totaig.
There is an unconfirmed report of a corncrake heard calling in the Glendale area on the weekend of May 26th/27th. If you do hear any corncrakes calling in the Glendale area then please either report them via me or directly to Shelagh Parlane, the RSPB Corncrake Officer for Skye.
The first house martin of the year finally arrived in Upper Milovaig this evening, which is extraordinarily late.
There were a pair of barn owls hunting along the track to Taigh Sheonaidh Cottage, Ferinquarrie at 11:30pm.
A cuckoo went over the cliffs at Lower Milovaig, mid afternoon, and headed in a direct line across the Minch towards Harris. There was a stunning barn owl hunting in the garden at Lephin Cottage and below the hen houses on croft 2 Lephin at 11:15pm.
The midges were biting ferociously this evening at Lower Milovaig.
The first brood of baby house sparrows fledged today at 2 Lower Milovaig. Most of our resident species have broods in the nest now that are due to fledge imminently.
There was a singing male blackcap in Dave & Jan Perry's garden at Holmisdale, early morning.
A small pod of at least 4, maybe 5, bottle-nosed dolphins came into Loch Pooltiel, as far as the moorings just before 10am, putting on a good show of breaching and splashing. They could be heard blowing and the water spout could be seen. After around 15 minutes they headed back out to sea.
This is extraordinariliy late but our first chiffchaff of the year was back and singing in the usual nesting territory at 2 Lower Milovaig this morning. The grasshopper warbler below the road on crofts 2 and 3 Lephin has been singing at dawn and dusk for the whole month and is particularly good just now with the warm, still weather.
One of our white-tailed eagles flew over the white beach at Lower Milovaig and then across Upper Milovaig in the direction of Waterstein at around 12:30pm.
There were a pair of lapwings displaying on crofts 2 and 3 Lephin, early morning. Two separate red grouse were seen on the Lephin Grazings in the morning (Richard Powell).
There was a singing male garden warbler in the garden at 1 Lower Milovaig this evening.
It had to happen... the first midges were biting late evening.
There was a common whitethroat singing from the rooftop of Lephin Cottage this morning. This is the first one back in this breeding territory, which is extremely late. There was also another singing male whitethroat back in nesting territory at Lower Milovaig this afternoon. Highlight of the day was a spotted flycatcher in the spruces behind 2 Lower Milovaig, mid afternoon. This is our first record for this species in Glendale. Clearly, after a slow start, the migrants are on the move again.
We're having some crazy weather this year. Snow fell on higher ground overnight and there was a covering on MacLeod's Tables, the Cuillins, the Storr and the Trotternish ridge this morning.
There was a white-tailed eagle being mobbed over the croft house at 2 Upper Milovaig at 7:40am, which head off towards the top road (Alison Stables).
The first sedge warbler was singing at Lephin, early morning. There was a flock of 14 siskins in the spruces at 2 Lower Milovaig, early morning.
Glendale awoke to a sharp frost. The car window had to be scraped, the polytunnel at Lephin went down to -1°C overnight and even the water froze in the drinkers inside the hen sheds there. Not only is it unheard of for a frost in Glendale in May, it is also a rare event nationally.
The first white wagtail of the year (on passage) was above the bottom road in Lower Milovaig, early afternoon. We had an influx of wheatears this weekend with perhaps two or three times the usual number of birds around the Milovaig Loop. Our juvenile white-tailed eagle flew very low over Beinn Bhuidhe, just behind the houses, over An Acarsaid cottage and then on towards the Ramasaig road, mid afternoon. The first sand martin of the year flew along the B884 between Upper Milovaig and Borrodale, late afternoon.
There were three pairs of dippers along the top end of the river Hamara between the last shieling and Sunagill (Kathy Lindsley).
The bluebells are now in bloom around Lower Milovaig and the butterworts are just starting to emerge.
There was a good show from both of our white-tailed eagles over the Lower Milovaig crofts, grazings and sea between 7:30pm and 8:30pm, with the birds being very vocal when mobbed by ravens (Kathy Lindsley). There was a male reed bunting on the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig at 6pm.
Our juvenile white-tailed eagle flew low along the bottom road in Milovaig again tonight at 8:30pm, in almost a repeat of last night's patrol.
Our juvenile white-tailed eagle was circling very low over the bottom road in Lower Milovaig at around 8pm, before making its way along the road towards Upper Milovaig.
We are still getting some very cold mornings, down to -1.5°C inside the polytunnel at Lephin last night.
Our sub-adult white-tailed eagle came in low off the sea at Lower Milovaig, across the hill road and onto the Lower Milovaig grazings, late afternoon. There are now two common sandpipers on the white beach/skerries at Lower Milovaig.
The first early purple orchid of the year is in bloom at the boatshed, by MacDougal's Spruces.
The first common sandpiper was back and calling on the white beach at Milovaig, mid afternoon.
A cuckoo was calling at Lephin, late afternoon.
The first cuckoo in Glendale was calling at Ferinquarrie today (Mike Mansell).
Just when we thought the show was over, it all kicked off again after midnight with the most amazing light show seen on the island in many years. It continued until after 2am, with spectacular strobing and waves of light blazing across the sky. The main peak of activity occurred between 12:30am and 2am. The activity was visible from East to West and also overhead, which is unusual for auroras on Skye. The third photo (left) is looking due East to illustrate just how extensive the coverage was.
[CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE]
There was a spectacular aurora over Glendale tonight reaching its peak of light intensity at 11:35pm, with some amazing columns and shapes. This is the best aurora we have had on Skye in many years (note the meteor on the right of the fourth photo).
More swallows are trickling in with two perched on wires at Ferinquarrie at 7:45pm (Sue & Mike Mansell).
The first swallow finally returned to Glendale today: on the top road in Upper Milovaig, mid afternoon. That is 14 days later than last year. There was a stunning male merlin hunting again below the bottom road in Upper Milovaig, mid afternoon. The grasshopper warbler was reeling again at Lephin at 7:15am and there was a report of another bird reeling in Fasach (per skye-birds.com).
There was also a report of two bonxies back at Neist Point today (per skye-birds.com).
A male grasshopper warbler was back and reeling in the nesting territory below the Holmisdale Road on crofts 3/4 Lephin, early morning.
There was a late redwing in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig, early morning. A group of 3 twite were in Milovaig today for the first time this year.
We are still getting frosts every morning, which is extraordinary for April. It went down to -1°C inside my polytunnel at Lephin last night.
There was a ground frost again in Glendale this morning. There have been several frosty mornings over the last week or so and this is very unusual in April.
The first stonechat, a female, was back in breeding territory on the Lower Milovaig common grazings (Kathy Lindsley). There was a small group of six redwings in full song in the trees on croft 1 Lephin all evening. The willow warblers are now singing everywhere in Glendale.
The first common whitethroat of the year was heard singing in MacDougal's spruces, near Meanish Pier this afternoon. There was also a singing male willow warbler in MacDougal's spruces, which is the first bird in Glendale outside of the early-birds at Lephin, so a sign that the others are now coming in. There were two summer-plumage red-throated divers close to shore off the seaward end of the Milovaig loop, giving excellent views in the afternoon sunshine. The first rooks have fledged today in the rookery at Lephin. There are now up to six linnets at a time visiting the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig, which has been building up over the last couple of weeks.
There was a flock of 30 redwings at Lephin, late afternoon.
There was a stunning male merlin hunting on croft 2 Lephin at around 9am. It even came into the garden at Lephin Cottage to chase goldfinches at the feeders, giving some amazing, close views from the window. It perched a while on the telegraph pole beside the polytunnel before heading off onto the Lephin grazings.
There are still a few redwings around and one was outside the Red Roof Café at 8:30am.
It was frosty again this morning and the car had to be scraped at 7:00am. The temperature was 0.5°C. It is very unusual for us to get frosts in April.
Our pair of white-tailed eagles wandered very close to the eyrie of one of our resident pairs of golden eagles today and the older WTE was spectacularly attacked by the male goldie in an aerial battle of talon grappling and tumbling. The goldie won with grace and agility against the lumbering WTE and sent the pair packing.
There were two late whooper swans, a male and two female goosanders and a single redshank on Loch Mor in the afternoon.
The first bluebell was in bloom in Clare Gray's garden at Upper Milovaig and she also found the first butterwort in bloom on the moor behind her house.
It was a cold morning in Glendale, with the temperature just above zero at 7am and the car thick with ice.
The juvenile white-tailed eagle was circling low over the Scorr Farm side of Loch Pooltiel at 11am. There was a male linnet in full song at Ferinquarrie, late morning.
Violets are just starting to bloom at Ferinquarrie.
The pair of white-tailed eagles were in Milovaig again at 7:30am, over the Carter's Rest. They made their way along the bottom road and spent a long time soaring over crofts 2 and 4. At one point one of the eagles dived almost to ground level and snatched a herring gull in flight. It shook the gull severely and then dropped it. The gull thrashed around on the ground, alive but broken, before being finished off by hoodies. The eagle made no attempt to return to its kill. These eagles are both actually young birds, one has white in its tail but is not fully white, the other has a fully brown tail.
It was a bitterly cold morning in Glendale, with temperatures down to -1°C. There was a trace of snow on Dunvegan Head and a thin covering on MacLeod's Tables. A lot of snow was on the Cuillins and Trotternish Ridge.
There were two 2nd year glaucous gulls following the Moyra Jane in Loch Pooltiel this afternoon taking the by-catch. There was a single redwing today in the garden of Kathy's Cottage, Lower Milovaig. There was a single red-throated diver on Loch Pooltiel in the afternoon. There was a flock of 40 meadow pipits below the bottom road in Lower Milovaig, late afternoon, indicating that some passage is in progress today. Two white-tailed eagles, an adult and an immature bird, flew low over An Acarsaid Cottage, Upper Milovaig, mid afternoon, then followed the allt mor burn down to Loch Pooltiel before veering off over Clach Ghlas and out onto the Lower Milovaig grazings. There are now at least two, possibly three, willow warblers singing at Lephin throughout the day.
A tawny owl was flushed in Leinish Wood and the first violets and wild strawberries were in bloom there (Kathy Lindsley).
A male willow warbler was in full song in Lydia's garden at Lephin this morning. A pair of siskins were in the spruces at 2 Lower Milovaig today for the first time this year.
The lambs are coming early this year and there have already been six or more born in Upper Milovaig over the last couple of days.
A few brief snatches of willow warbler song were heard at Lephin, which has shattered our earliest record for this species in Glendale. The previous earliest record for this species was April 10th.
There was a merlin flying over Hamara Lodge, early morning, and another, possibly the same bird seen again, below the bottom road in Upper Milovaig, late afternoon.
A lot of wheatears have come in today: 3 males at Meanish Pier, 5 males below the bottom road in Upper Milovaig, 1 male above the top road in Upper Milovaig, 1 male by the track to 13 Upper Milovaig. Also, the first female above the bottom road in Lower Milovaig. There have been several gannets coming into Loch Pooltiel throughout the day for the first time this year.
A flock of 45 whooper swans went North over Lower Milovaig at around 8:45am. A singing male linnet in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig was the first returnee of the year. The male wheatear is still showing well below the bottom road in Upper Milovaig but as yet no others have arrived in Glendale, despite the wonderful weather. The meadow pipits are everywhere now.
The lesser celandines have been in bloom now for a few days.
Snipe have started drumming in the evenings at Borrowdale (Clare Gray).
A large flock of redwings were singing en mass in the spruces at 4 Lephin this morning, creating an incredible wall of noise. This is an annual phenomenon in Glendale as they prepare for their return migration to Iceland.
An immature white-tailed eagle crossed Loch Pooltiel and landed on the cliff-top that overlooks the white beach at Lower Milovaig at around 7:15am. It then spent over half an hour landing at various points amongst the sheep, between there and Bob Cleland's shed, at Upper Milovaig.
The first wheatear arrived back today, as always a striking male, which put on a good show below the bottom road in Upper Milovaig all afternoon. This is the earliest date that we have ever recorded a wheatear in Glendale, beating the previous record of March 19th, 2009 by one day. The skylarks were singing at Milovaig today for the first time this year.
There was a flock of 16 golden plovers just south-east of Beinn an Corrafidheag and a small group of 6-8 twite (the first returnees of the year) on the Ramasaig road (Kathy Lindsley).
There was a thick white, frost overnight, hard enough to freeze puddles at Lephin, but it melted very quickly once the sun came up.
The skylarks were singing at Lephin for the first time this year and more meadow pipits are returning. The pied wagtails are now back in the breeding site at Lower Milovaig.
The white-tailed bumble-bees have emerged today for the first time this year.
Whooper swan migration has started, with a flock of 25 whooper swans heading North over Glasphein late morning (AS) and another flock heard over Beinn Bhuidhe at 7pm (Clare Gray).
A dipper was building a nest at Borrodale (Clare Gray).
The first hedgehog out of hibernation was snuffling hungrily on the lawn at 2 Lower Milovaig at 7:30am. The first pipistrelle bat of the year was outside Ceiteag's Café at dusk.
There were 7 teal on Loch Dunvegan at Kinlock at 8am.
The first primrose of the year was in bloom near MacDougal's spruces at Lower Milovaig.
The first pied wagtail and meadow pipit of the spring were calling at Lephin this morning.
A pure white stoat (ermine) ran across the road at Carter's Rest and into the front garden there, mid-afternoon.
An immature white-tailed eagle flew the length of the allt mor burn at Upper Milovaig at 7:45am and then turned past Carter's Rest at roof-top height along the Waterstein road.
There was a white-tailed eagle perched on the cliff at the top of croft 1 Lephin at 9:30am, being mobbed by crows and gulls, that took off in the direction of Milovaig (Richard Powell).
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon in Glendale but during the morning there were snow showers, some very heavy with big, fluffy flakes. It melted very quickly, although snow lay on MacLeod's Tables all day.
There were two full-grown, red deer stags grazing openly outside the polytunnel behind the Post Office at 7:30am.
The first lesser black-backed gulls of the summer were back, with two at Lephin. The first skylarks were singing at Upper Milovaig (Clare Gray).
A male hen harrier flew west over the bottom road in Lower Milovaig mid afternoon.
The first daffodils opened in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig today. Last year the first daffodil did not open until March 20th, so it is clear how much more advanced the spring is this year than last year.
An immature white-tailed eagle flew extremely low over the white beach at Lower Milovaig, then almost landed on the top of Beinn Bhuidhe before heading across to Upper Milovaig at 12:35pm.
The return thrush migration has started today with an influx of redwings and song thrushes at Lephin and Milovaig. There was a flock of 25 redwings on croft 3 Lephin and smaller groups of redwings and song thrushes at Lower Milovaig. The winter thrushes have been conspicuous in their absence this winter, so it is nice to see them coming back through on their journey back to Iceland.
There were two golden eagles being mobbed by a peregrine and ravens on the Oisgill cliffs early afternoon (Kathy Lindsley).
There was an otter fishing off the white beach at Lower Milovaig at 2:45pm.
Glendale awoke to a thin covering of snow down to sea-level with up to 2cm in some places.
There were snow showers throughout the day in Glendale but not settling.
There were 6 lapwings on the Borrodale Grazings today (Clare Gray).
There were two white-winged gulls on croft 1 Waterstein, one of which was definitely a glaucous gull (Andy Radford). There was flock of 7 lapwings at Borrodale. The black guillemots have now returned in full to Loch Pooltiel, with around 15 birds there today.
There were five goldeneye, two goosander and a pair of redshank at Loch Mor, early afternoon (Kathy Lindsley).
The flowering currants have come into bloom at Lower Milovaig this week, which is around 4 weeks earlier than last year.
There was a dipper on the River Borrodale (Clare Gray).
There an otter fishing the shoreline along the white beach at Lower Milovaig at 11:15am.
There is still a single woodpigeon at 2 Lower Milovaig.
There were two male and a female goosander at the mouth of the river Hamara this morning (Clare Gray). There was a woodpigeon at 2 Lower Milovaig late afternoon. Woodpigeon are very scarce in Glendale and only turn up in Milovaig once or twice per year.
There was an adult white-tailed eagle flying very close to the ground on the estate park beside croft 1 Lephin at around 10am. Probably the same bird was seen again on the top road in Feriniquarrie, just behind the Six Willows B&B at around 1:30pm. There was a single red-throated diver on Loch Pooltiel mid afternoon.
There was an otter fishing off the rocks on the Scorr Farm side of the black beach at around 1:45pm.
There was a red fox above the hill road in Lower Milovaig, early morning (Phil Lee).
The robins have now joined the song thrushes in the dawn chorus, signs that the birds are now responding to the lengthening days. There was a charm of 11 goldfinches visiting the bird feeders at Lephin Cottage today.
There was a song thrush in full song at 1 Lower Milovaig at dusk for the first time since the autumn.
The aurora borealis was very faintly visible just after 6pm, with some interesting shifting columns of light radiating from the North. Fingers crossed for a better display later in the night.
There was a single lapwing back on the breeding-ground at Hamaraverin, a full month earlier than last year (Clare Gray).
There was a first-winter glaucous gull flying around the skerries and white beach at Lower Milovaig at 3:15pm before heading around the shoreline towards Pollosgan.
There was an adult white-tailed eagle circling low over the estate parks near Hamara Lodge at 1pm that gradually worked its way over to Scorr Farm. The first black guillemot was back on Loch Pooltiel today.
An adult white-tailed eagle flew at tree-top height over 2, then 1, Lower Milovaig at 8:45am and headed on towards the top road in Upper Milovaig. A single barnacle goose was on the white beach at Lower Milovaig at 9:15am and headed off out into the Minch.
The first snowdrops have come into bloom in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig, which is 15 days earlier than last year.
There was a single red-throated diver on Loch Pooltiel early afternoon.
There are already four pairs of fulmars back on the nesting ledges at Neist Point, despite the appalling weather and six common guillemots off-shore. There was a single drake goldeneye on Loch Mor. There was a single mistle thrush below the bottom road in Upper Milovaig. These are very scarce winter visitors to Glendale.
There was a flock of 50 turnstones at Lorgill, together with 12 oystercatchers and a pair of shelducks (Kathy Lindsley).
A pair of golden eagles put on a dazzling display low above the road in Glasphein mid afternoon before heading off onto Scorr Farm.
A very happy New Year to all the regular readers of this blog!