These were the wildlife highlights in Glendale, Isle of Skye, in 2009.
If you saw something interesting/unusual in Glendale this year then please do email in.
At 1:40pm, an immature white-tailed eagle flew low, North, along the bottom road in Lower Milovaig escorted by a diminutive local buzzard until safely off its patch.
Continuous heavy showers of sleet and snow all day left a 1-2cm covering by dusk.
The red fox that is causing so many problems for poultry keepers in Milovaig has today taken a hen and a duck at 12 Upper (Andrea Cross).
There was a group of 12-15 long-tailed tits in Dunvegan Woods (Kathy Lindsley). Loch Suardal, Dunvegan, was very icy so just an immature whooper swan and 3 little grebes there today (Kathy Lindsley).
The temperature fell to -2.2°C last night in Lower Milovaig but it was cloudy today and temperatures rose to +4.5°C, allowing the roads to defrost for the first time in over a week.
There were three golden plovers at the seaward end of Lower Milovaig, mid morning. There was a lone lapwing below the bottom road on croft 4 Lower Milovaig, mid-morning. We saw an influx of meadow pipits today with 20+ between 2 Lower Milovaig and the pier. Meadow pipits were observed flying in off the sea, seemingly having come from North Uist, where the conditions must be even harsher than in Glendale right now. There were one great northern diver, two red-throated divers and three goosanders on Loch Pooltiel at 1pm. There was also an influx of snipe with 9 counted on a walk from Milovaig to Lephin, via Pollosgan. There was a beautiful female reed bunting feeding on fallen grass seed heads on the Watermill access road, early afternoon. A superb female hen harrier flew along the road past Borrodale School, mid-afternoon, and then over to Feriniquarrie.
Plucked remains of a snipe/woodcock were found at druim nan sgarbh, on the Milovaig grazings, with 'huge' prints in the snow, so possibly taken by an eagle (Kathy Lindsley).
Between 1-2cm of snow fell on top of the ice last night, making the road out of the glen impassible again for the morning commute. Glendale has now been white and frozen solid since the 21st, with virtually no wind, clear blue skies every day, overnight temperatures down to -2.1 degrees and daytime temperatures rarely getting above +2 degrees.
There were nine golden plovers feeding at the Biod Ban, on the Milovaig grazings, at mid-day. At 2pm, a superb pair of adult white-tailed eagles were soaring quite low over the white beach at Lower Milovaig, before gradually working their way around Beinn Bhuidhe towards Pollosgan. There were 3 whooper swans, 2 goldeneye and 3 tufted ducks on Loch Mor today, which (very unusually) was 70% frozen over at mid-day.
There were two red deer at druim nan sgarbh on the Milovaig common grazings at mid-day.
There was a group of three black-throated divers and a couple of great northern divers on Loch Pooltiel early afternoon. The three goosanders on Loch Pooltiel were feeding at the shore today, close to the slipway, giving superb close views. There are two winter plumage black guillemots on Loch Pooltiel that have been around for the last few days. There are still plenty of woodcock around in Milovaig at the moment, at least 4 birds but probably as many as 6.
There were two black-throated divers on Loch Pooltiel at mid-day. There were two male and a female goosander off the white beach at Lower Milovaig all day. Early afternoon, an adult white-tailed eagle circling over the sea at the mouth of Loch Pooltiel was seen to fly across the Minch to North Uist on, what was, yet another spectacularly clear day. Extremely unusual was a lapwing that flew East-West over the top road in Lower Milovaig, early afternoon. This is the first time we have recorded lapwings in Glendale in December. There has been a grey wagtail feeding in the drain outside Carter's Rest for a week or so now.
An immature white-tailed eagle flew over the bottom road in Lower Milovaig, across Beinn Bhuidhe and over to Scorr Farm just before 11am. There were a total of four woodcock along the bottom road in Lower Milovaig between 1 Lower and MacDougal's spruces, all day. They were feeding quite openly in the few unfrozen patches of ground.
A red fox killed two more of our hens in broad daylight at 9:45am. It is looking very skinny and is very bold, standing its ground even when being shot three times with an air rifle. It had to be chased off in the end.
There were 3 whooper swans and 2 goosanders feeding at the head of Loch Pooltiel early morning (Clare Gray). The whoopers, mid-morning, did a low circle around Upper Milovaig before heading out into the Minch. There was a woodcock feeding at the roadside outside 2 Lower Milovaig at 10:30am. There was a group of three great northern divers giving superb close views near Meanish Pier all day and there was another great northern diver inside the Loch. There was a group of 3 red-throated divers across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel all day.
It was an amazing day for otters with three active on Loch Pooltiel between 11am and 12:30pm: one working its way along the Lower Milovaig shore, from the white beach around past the pier; another working its way from the white beach around towards Pollosgan and a third otter 'scoped across the far side of Loch Pooltiel near the waterfall.
There was also a lone harbour seal basking on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel most of the day. These are now very scarce visitors, unlike the grey seals of which there are generally a minimum of 6 in permanent residence, with up to 30 on a good day.
White with a thick frost all day again today, with temperatures hovering around zero throughout.
There were three great northern divers and two red-throated divers inside the mouth of Loch Pooltiel, late morning. There were three fieldfares in Upper Milovaig, mid afternoon. There are several small groups of continental thrushes around comprising mostly song thrushes (flocks of 10-12 birds), with smaller numbers of redwings (groups of 4-6 birds). Unusually for this time of year, there were two meadow pipits in Upper Milovaig and two more in Lower Milovaig.
We recorded a minimum temperature of -2.1° centigrade last night, which is extremely rare in Milovaig.
The over-wintering chiffchaff at Lower Milovaig has now moved into the Hampson's garden at No.1. There were two red-throated divers on Loch Pooltiel early afternoon. There was a woodcock at Lephin at dawn and, unusually, a meadow pipit late morning. A pair of golden eagles were putting on a good show over Dunvegan Head, early afternoon, viewed from Meanish Pier.
Very icy again today and the gritter did not come until 11am. We both got stuck trying to get up the hill at Fasach at 7:45am and had to abandon our cars until the gritter came.
Glendale was virtually cut off from the rest of Skye, overnight and this morning, due to severe ice on the road between Fasach and Skye Silver. A number of people trying to get in or out of the glen had to abandon their cars. There was a sprinkle of snow on the ground all day and showers of hail/sleet throughout.
There were flurries of sleet and snow all day in Glendale but it never settled.
A red fox again attacked our hens in broad daylight at 9am. It had one by the neck when my neighbour disturbed it and it made off minus the hen. The hen survived!
We recorded a minimum temperature of -0.1°C last night in Milovaig, which is very unusual. Temperatures rarely go negative in Milovaig.
An incredibly late chiffchaff was feeding in MacDougal's spruces, near Meanish Pier, mid afternoon. This is now the second time that we have recorded a chiffchaff in Lower Milovaig in December, the last one being on Boxing Day 2004. There were two great northern divers out in the Minch off Lower Milovaig, mid-afternoon. There was a group of 4 curlews feeding on the sheep paircs between the top and bottom roads in Lower Milovaig all day.
There was an otter diving at the shoreline off the seaward end of Lower Milovaig, mid-afternoon.
There were already 62 occupied fulmar nests at Neist Point but there are no auks around, just a single winter plumage black guillemot. There were two snipe at Neist Point and 5 eider ducks in Moonen Bay. Two golden eagles put on an amazing aeriel display at the Biod Mor and also demonstrated their amazing rabbit hunting technique. This involves gliding at speed, just a foot above the ground, approaching a burrow from behind in the hope of surprising a rabbit sitting at the entrance. There were 6 goldeneye and 1 tufted duck on Loch Mor, Waterstein.
There was a woodcock in the brae between Fasach and Skye Silver and another woodcock at the Three Chimneys at sunrise.
A red fox killed and ate two of our free-to-roam hens in broad daylight at around 9:30am.
There was a barn owl at Hamara Lodge just before 6am (Alison Stables).
There were 6 adult and 2 imm. whooper swans, 4 pairs of wigeon, 32 teal and 3 little grebes on Loch Suardal, Dunvegan, and a 'ragged' immature white-tailed eagle at the nearby plantation (Kathy Lindsley).
There were two males and a female goosander off the White Beach at Lower Milovaig, all morning, our first of the winter. There was a large flock of 250 shags feeding together on Loch Pooltiel, mid morning.
A woodcock was flushed near the shielings on the Fasach common grazings (Kathy Lindsley). There have been very few woodcock around this year, compared to last year, and this is the first report from Glendale.
There was a golden plover wandering about in the middle of the bottom road in Upper Milovaig at 6pm and another feeding in the adjacent field (No. 4).
There was a dusting of snow on MacLeod's Tables at dawn. Other parts of Skye were looking quite festive, with a good covering on the Cuillins and Trotternish Ridge and snow & ice covering ungritted roads between Skeabost and Portree.
A golden eagle flew East over the bottom road in Lower Milovaig at 8am, in the direction of Scoval.
There were sleety showers all day and a touch of snow on Dunvegan Head mid-afternoon. Across the Minch, the mountains of the Western Isles were capped with snow for the first time this year.
A pair of reed buntings were at Borreraig Parks at lunchtime. There were two great northern divers and a winter plumage black guillemot (our first sighting for a while now) in Loch Dunvegan,off Borreraig Parks, late morning. There were a pair of goldeneye on the small lochan at Borreraig.
A golden eagle hunting at the summit of Scoval was seen to fly over to Milovaig and then on to Oisgill Bay at mid-day.
A red fox was hit by the car on the bottom road in Upper Milovaig at 7:40pm (Alison Stables).
Two mistle thrushes flew South along the bottom road in Lower Milovaig mid-morning. These are the first arrivals of the winter. There was a single great northern diver inside the mouth of Loch Pooltiel, late afternoon.
Glendale awoke to a hard frost, the first of the winter, with overnight temperatures falling to +1.8 degrees.
There was a group of four red-throated divers inside Loch Pooltiel and two more on the seaward -side of the pier, mid afternoon. There was a flock of 10 song thrushes below the bottom road at 1 Lower Milovaig, mid-afternoon. There were five cormorants on Loch Pooltiel, which flew in from the sea, and a flock of around 40 shags. There was also a report of 2 Great Northern Divers on Loch Pooltiel, by the big waterfall, and three pairs of Eiders in Moonen Bay (Brian Smith).
There was an adult white-tailed eagle (with lurid yellow wing tags) soaring close to the piping monument at Borreraig, mid afternoon, which made its way along the shore towards Husabost.
There were three red deer at Scoval, early afternoon.
There was an otter in the middle of Loch Pooltiel this afternoon, seemingly taking the small prawns put back by our local fishermen, Greg Lane & Brian Smith, or codling/whiting (Brian Smith).
It's good to have them back on the patch, as we haven't had any otter sightings since June.
More redwing flocks came in overnight with 100 at Skinidin, 25 at Lower Milovaig and 25 at Borrodale at dawn.
Four noisy whooper swans flew South-West over Lower Milovaig just after sunset.
There was a female blackcap eating berries in a lone rowan close to Meanish Pier mid afternoon. We rarely get blackcaps in Milovaig and from her location, well away from any cover, she was clearly a late migrant. There is still an immature white-tailed eagle in the Milovaig area, seen again this afternoon doing a low pass over crofts 14 then 13 Lower Milovaig, before heading out onto the common grazings. This bird is carrying wing tags but we haven't be able to make out the colour. There are still a couple of gannets coming into Loch Pooltiel but no auks around at the moment.
There was a group of three red-throated divers on Loch Pooltiel late afternoon. This group have been in the area for a few weeks now.
The temperature fell to 4 degrees in Milovaig last night, the coldest night of the autumn so far.
There was a big influx of thrushes into Skye overnight, with 25 redwings at 2 Lower Milovaig, 12 redwings and 8 fieldfares at Fasach, then 35 redwings and 1 fieldfare at Dunvegan at dawn.
At around 6:15pm, a cracking female merlin was hunting at Meanish Pier. She put on an amazing display of agility, chasing a rock pipit around the building, before catching and plucking it under Mick's boat. Just before dark, she was disturbed by a couple of tourists and took off with her kill.
Just to top off a superb weekend for birding in Glendale: a lesser whitethroat turned up in the Hampson's garden at 1 Lower Milovaig, late afternoon. These are extremely rare on Skye, with only a handful of records, and this is our first ever record in Glendale. An immature white-tailed eagle flew South across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel at around 2:30pm. There was a single common guillemot on Loch Pooltiel, mid afternoon, but there are currently no other auks around. There are a dozen, or so, adult and immature gannets still coming into Loch Pooltiel to feed.
After the strong winds yesterday birds have really been starting to move today.
There were 3 pale-bellied brent geese on the white beach at Lower Milovaig all day, our first ever record of this species in Glendale. Three whooper swans flew in from the North, landed on Loch Mor, Waterstein, for around 30 minutes before continuing South. There were three goldeneye on Loch Mor, the first arrivals of the winter, together with a single tufted duck and 4 redshank. There was a flock of 8 curlews at Waterstein.
Two very late swallows were feeding around the gardens at 1 & 2 Lower Milovaig from 3:45pm onwards. There was also an influx of continental thrushes. A mixed flock of 30 blackbirds, song thrushes and redwings (at least 4),were stripping rowans at 1 & 2 Lower Milovaig, late afternoon. There was also an increased number of robins with 8-10 in the gardens at 1 & 2 Lower Milovaig of which two were fighting almost to the death, rolling around on the floor in a ball of feathers, showing incomers into an established territory. There was also an notable increase in the numbers of chaffinches.
There was a late pipistrelle bat on the wing at dusk at 2 Lower Milovaig.
Amazing day for cetaceans with a pod of 20-30 common dolphins splashing and breeching (far out) in the Minch off Lower Milovaig, gradually working their way North, early afternoon. These were followed by a pod of around 10-12 harbour porpoises just outside the mouth of Loch Pooltiel, again very active at the surface and doing partial breeches, mid afternoon.
There was a flock of around 20 twite in Lower Milovaig. A single linnet and two small ducks, presumably teal, also passed through Lower Milovaig during the day. There were a pair of stonechats on the bottom road in Lower Milovaig and another male stonechat on the top road in Upper Milovaig.
The midges were still biting fiercely today. This is very late but it was a lovely warm, sunny, still day after yesterday's severe gale force winds.
The first cold night of the autumn last night, with temperatures falling to 6.3 degrees in Milovaig and 4 degrees in Portree.
A skein of 40 geese was observed flying due East across the Minch and over Lower Milovaig at 7pm, seemingly having come from South Uist or Benbecula.
There were still midges biting this evening, which is very late.
A flock of 50-60 house sparrows that has been visiting the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig throughout August and September has moved on this week, with just 15 birds remaining.
There was a flock of 150 twite feeding in front of the house at 10 Upper Milovaig at 7:45am.
The nesting ledges are now deserted at Neist Point. There was a single common tern feeding on flotsam at the end of the point, all afternoon. Birds passing Neist Point in the afternoon included 1 bonxie, 2 puffins, 3 guillemots, 6 razorbills and around 100 manx shearwaters. There are still 120+ gannets feeding around Neist Point and Moonen Bay. The wheatears have all gone now but there were still two late swallows at Waterstein. There was just a single skylark at Waterstein, the others around Glendale have all disappeared now.
There was a manx shearwater grounded on the top road in Lower Milovaig at 11pm (Kathy Lindsley).
There was a flock of 100 twite at Borrodale at 7:45am.
There was a nice pod of 8-10 harbour porpoises across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel, viewed from Lower Milovaig, from 7pm onwards.
There was a golden eagle quartering the Milovaig common grazings, at the Lower Milovaig end, late afternoon. It is very unusual to see them in this area, particularly with the eagle's proximity to dwellings on the hill road. There was a single bonxie attacking gannets in the Minch off Lower Milovaig mid-afternoon.
Two white-tailed eagles flew, fairly high, South-West over croft 4 Lower Milovaig, past Clach Ghlas, at 7:35am.
Two panicked red deer hinds in the road at Skinidin were causing traffic chaos just before 8am.
There was a party of 12 goldfinches feeding on thistles at the Community Hall at 5:45pm (Kathy Lindsley).
There were three cormorants at the head of Loch Pooltiel, mid afternoon. These continue to be very scarce visitors to Glendale.
There are still plenty of fungi around with several large specimens of orange birch bolete found today and small numbers of horse & field mushrooms still appearing.
There was a single brown hare above the bottom road in Lower Milovaig, close to Mary Ann's house. This is the first time we have ever seen one on the bottom road.
There were a pair of red-throated divers on Loch Pooltiel most of the day. There were 3 razorbills close to the pier late afternoon but there are no other auks around at the moment, even the black guillemots have gone.
There were two basking sharks in Moonen Bay at mid-day. One was very large and came close inshore at Camas na h-Annait.
A few birds were heading North past Neist Point in the morning including: 1 common tern, 2 bonxies, 3 manx shearwaters and 10 razorbills (literally the only auks around). There were still a few seabirds on the nesting ledges with 87 occupied kittiwake nests (9 large young, ready to fledge but no sign of eggs or young in other nests), 12 fulmar nests, 3 shag nests, 1 herring gull nest. There was a flock of 61 starlings feeding on short grass near the lighthouse and a single red-throated diver off the point. There were 30+ gannets feeding in Moonen Bay.
There was a single bonxie flying along the cliffs at the seaward side of Lower Milovaig, mid-afternoon. A golden eagle was hunting and riding thermals along the ridge between Dunvegan Head and Scoval, mid-afternoon, giving a good, but distant, show from Lower Milovaig.
There were two 1st year common terns diving on Loch Pooltiel mid-afternoon. One was feeding around the skerries and resting on the mooring buoys. The other was feeding off the seaward side of Meanish Pier. These are becoming increasingly scarce visitors to Loch Pootiel. A small group of 8 manx shearwaters was feeding close to Meanish Pier, together with a red-throated diver and a razorbill, at the same time.
There was a basking shark at Neist Point that came very close to the rocks for around 40 minutes, late afternoon (Fiona Leavis).
Report from Kathy Lindsley of an evening boat trip to Oisgill/Neist: There was a brief glimpse of a minke whale at Oisgill Bay, a red-throated diver, 12 gannets and a bonxie. Manx shearwaters were heading South in groups of 8-10, with around 8 groups seen passing through. Lots of kittiwakes still at nest sites at the caves between Oisgill and Neist.
There was a basking shark well inside Loch Pooltiel, between to Greg Lane's mooring (the 'Moyra Jane') and Scorr Farm, mid afternoon.
A great skua flew South down the Minch, across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel, mid afternoon.
Still plenty of fungi around in Glendale with 0.4 kilograms of horse mushrooms picked today. Other fungi around today included larch bolete.
More fungi are emerging with slippery jack being found in Lower Milovaig for the first time.
The autumnal weather has brought out the first flushes of fungi, with 0.32 kilograms of pristine horse mushrooms picked today, together with a couple of field mushrooms. There are also a few yellow waxcaps around.
There were two pairs of red-throated divers on Loch Pooltiel this evening, one of which was giving very close views from the pier.
There were around 6 stars visible in the sky at 11:30pm, despite us still being a week away from astronomical twilight being reached again. It is still fairly bright at night and the silhouette of the Hebrides could still be seen clearly across the Minch at midnight.
The grasshopper warbler was singing again at the Community Hall this evening (Nick Carter).
A swift flew South over the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig at 6pm. These are very scarce visitors to Glendale.
There was a grasshopper warbler reeling outside the Community Hall at midnight (Kathy Lindsley).
A red fox came tearing across the B884 from croft 13 Upper Milovaig onto croft 12 Upper Milovaig at 7:40am. Keep an eye on your hens!
Our breeding pair of grey wagtails in Upper Milovaig have young in the nest and an adult was seen taking them a large moth (Kathy Lindsley). There were a dipper and a sand martin in Upper Milovaig (Kathy Lindsley). There was a group of 3 red-throated divers on Loch Pooltiel all evening that were calling loudly.
There were two minke whales at Oisgill Bay in the morning (Nick Carter). Another large adult minke whale was surfacing repeatedly, inside the mouth of Loch Pooltiel, giving good views from the seaward end of Lower Milovaig, between 9:30pm and 10pm, before heading out towards Oisgill.
It has been midge hell for the last two evenings, with midge-hood required for work in the garden, although thankfully the horse flies/cleggs seem to have abated.
Two very noisy eurofighter typhoon aircraft put on a good display circling fairly low around Milovaig just after 6pm.
A peregrine falcon flew slowly North along the bottom road in Lower Milovaig at 7:45am. A single red-throated diver flew over the B884 at 7:55am and landed on Loch Dunvegan close to Colbost Jetty.
There was a report of a basking shark at Neist Point.
There was a bonxie (great skua) putting on a superb display over Loch Pooltiel between 4pm and 4:30pm, attacking kittiwakes, forcing them to drop their catch and then diving down to catch it before it hit the water. It then flew out into the Minch over Meanish Pier. There were also a pair of red-throated divers near the head of the Loch.
There was a report of a great skua that landed on rocks at Meanish Pier for 10 minutes at 4pm before chasing gulls over the skerries (Clare Gray & Bob Cleland).
Between 8:30pm and 9:30pm, there were four harbour porpoises off the seaward end of Loch Pooltiel and a flock of 40 manx shearwaters, which were feeding and calling around the pier, before heading back out into the Minch.
There was a stunning male merlin hunting below the bottom road in Lower Milovaig mid afternoon.
We had rain yesterday afternoon and a heavy thunder shower at lunchtime today but those are the first wet days we've had in a long time!
The midges are still very thin on the ground, despite the stunning, hot sunny, calm weather this week but instead we are suffering unprecedented numbers of, an even worse menace, horse flies, which give a much more vicious bite and leave long-lasting weals.
There was a report of 3 or 4 harbour porpoises feeding off the Merchant Rock, Oisgill Bay (Kathy Lindsley). This is probably the same pod of 3-4 harbour porpoises that were feeding on mackerel shoals well inside Loch Pooltiel (directly in front of 2 Lower Milovaig), between 9:30pm and 10pm before heading back out into the Minch.
A scarce species on Skye, there were two swifts by the water pumping station on the B884 Dunvegan-Skinidin road at 8am.
There are many large shoals of fish in Loch Pooltiel at the moment, which are leaping en masse out of the water to catch flies. These are providing rich pickings for our local otters and from 10:30pm onwards there was an otter fishing off Meanish Point, which brought a large fish onto the rocks there, and two more otters fishing off the white beach at Lower Milovaig, which were coming ashore to eat their catch and roll in the seaweed.
There were also three harbour porpoises putting on a good show inside the mouth of Loch Pooltiel just before sunset.
There was a report of two (unidentified) whales tail-splashing a good way out in the Minch off Neist at 5pm (Kevin & Carol Carhart).
There were 5 harbour porpoises feeding across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel from 9:30pm onwards giving good views from Lower Milovaig.
There was a further report of a pair of red-throated divers on a lochan in the North of Glendale (John & Lorraine Bullman).
A ten foot basking shark, the first of the year, has arrived in Moonen Bay (Brian Smith).
There was a report of a red-throated diver on a lochan in the North of Glendale and two bonxies still at Neist Point (John & Lorraine Bullman).
There was a report that 5 great skuas have been visiting the camp-site at Dunvegan (per Kathy Lindsley).
There were at least 3 harbour porpoises feeding across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel and another came to within 30 yards of Meanish Pier at 10:15pm to feed amongst a large shoal of fish.
A red-throated diver was feeding close to the Pier, late evening, and flew out into the Minch calling loudly. There were 100 manx shearwaters feeding inside the mouth of Loch Pooltiel, late evening. The lapwings at Borrodale have raised two chicks again this year (Brian Smith).
There was a red admiral butterfly in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig today for the first time this year. Midge hell from 5pm onwards but this is only the 2nd time this year that they have been biting, so we feel very lucky indeed!
The heath spotted orchids and fragrant orchids are now in full bloom in Lower Milovaig.
There was a splash of rain in the morning (that instantly evaporated) but then straight back to baking sunshine again. This hot spell is certainly starting to rival last year's.
There were two house martins feeding around the spruces at 2 Lower Milovaig, early morning.
We have been having some very hot days but with temperatures falling away to as low as 2 degrees overnight and virtually no rain. This seems to have impacted the breeding success of thrushes, with the pair of blackbirds in our garden only managing to fledge 1 young. Other species, less influenced by the dry, hard ground, seem to be faring very well indeed.
There was a report that the sea has 'literally exploded into life' over the last few days with large numbers of jellyfish, shoals of small fish and plankton (Brian Smith). Also a summer-plumage great northern diver seen from the boat off Rubha Bhan (Brian Smith).
A single house martin flew South along the bottom road in Lower Milovaig at 9pm. This is exactly the same date that we had our first (and only) record last year.
There were 3 harbour porpoises feeding across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel, late evening. There was a large shoal of fish off Meanish Pier causing the water to boil at 9:30pm.
The midges have begun to bite this evening, for the first time this year. This is a few weeks later than last year. Just for fun, I'll re-start Andy's Midge Index (AMI) for another year. Tonight's AMI: 5 bites per hour.
Like other parts of the UK, Glendale has been invaded by painted lady butterflies with around 12 in the garden at 1 Lower Milovaig, another 10 at 2 Lower Milovaig and dozens more throughout Milovaig, Waterstein and Neist.
There was a single red-throated diver on Loch Mor, Waterstein, mid morning. There were vast numbers of manx shearwaters feeding on the surface of the water at Neist Point, in a patch of turbulence caused by the tides on an otherwise flat calm Minch. There were well in excess of 2000 birds, possibly as many as 4000. There were also smaller numbers of kittiwakes, guillemots and razorbills amongst the throng. The feeding frenzy had attracted 2 dark-phase arctic skuas and there were also 2 confiding great skuas (bonxies) on rocks at the point. Unusually, there was also a single, summer-plumage black-headed gull on the sea at the end of the point.
Occupied seabird nest counts at Neist were: 9 shag (2 nests with 1 young each), 101 fulmar, 79 kittiwake, 5 razorbill, 1 herring gull and 20 common guillemot. There were no signs of any eggs or young in any nests, except for the shags.
There was a single minke whale fairly close to shore inside the mouth of Loch Pooltiel at 9pm, giving good views from Lower Milovaig.
It's all been very 'quiet' on the wildlife front for the last few weeks. The migrants have passed through and the resident birds are all busy feeding fledglings, so there is not much movement.
The carnivorous round-leaved sundews have emerged in Lower Milovaig. The lousewort, self-heal and butterwort are in bloom and there are very good displays of bluebells below the bottom road on croft 4 Lower Milovaig.
The midges are just starting to come out, but not biting yet, although I expect this is imminent. The midges have been savage in other parts of Skye for a few days now but Glendale is usually a bit later getting them.
There were a pair of linnets in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig. We have also been getting daily visits from a pair of redpolls and a pair of siskins for around a fortnight.
There is still a great northern diver on Loch Pooltiel, seen diving off the white beach at Lower Milovaig, early morning.
There was a spectacular display from an adult and two immature white-tailed eagles over the loch in front of the Raven Press Gallery at Colbost at 1pm. The two sub-adults were locking talons and tumbling aggressively before heading off towards the Tables (Kathy Lindlsey).
There was a male red grouse on the Milovaig common grazings, a red fox at the fank near Oisgill Bay and the moss campion is in bloom on the Oisgill Cliffs (Kathy Lindsley).
There was an otter fishing along the shoreline at the white beach in Upper Milovaig at 6:30am. There were two arctic terns in Loch Erghallan, Skinidin at 7:55am. There was a lone puffin at the foot of the big waterfall in Loch Pooltiel, late evening.
Another minke whale reported at Neist (per Carter's Rest, per RMcM). Also 18 whimbrel at Neist (Per RMcM). Two black-throated divers flew in to Loch Mor at 6:30am (Nick Carter). There was a singing male common whitethroat beside the Hamara on the Fasach grazings.
There was a report of two minke whales at Neist (per Carter's Rest). The first fledged baby robin of the year was in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig.
The first early purple orchid is in bloom in Lower Milovaig.
The great northern diver is still on Loch Pooltiel, seen catching a 5-6" fish close to the white beach at Lower Milovaig, late afternoon.
There was a group of 6-7 sand martins and a pair of grey wagtails on the Hamara, close to the Fasach Shielings (Kathy Lindsley).
The lapwings are back on the nesting ground at Borrodale (Kathy Lindsley). The first puffin of the year was seen from the boat at the head of Loch Pooltiel (Brian Smith). The great northern diver was still present on Loch Pooltiel, at the foot of the big waterfall, late evening.
The carnivorous butterworts are starting to emerge around Lower Milovaig.
There was a late, winter-plumage great northern diver giving good views off Meanish Pier, mid-afternoon. There were two white wagtails on the shore at the seaward end of Lower Milovaig and a peregrine flew from Loch Pooltiel along the cliffs towards Oisgill (Kathy Lindsley). The first great skua of the year was at Loch Pooltiel, harassing gulls taking the by-catch being put back from their prawn pots (Brian Smith).
The swallows are now arriving in force with two at The Three Chimneys at 8am and another at Lower Milovaig all evening. The first cuckoo of the year was perched on overhead wires at Colbost at 6pm. There was a lot of activity from our pair of red-throated divers on Loch Pooltiel this evening, with the birds calling noisily and flying repeatedly up and down the loch.
The first minke whale of the year was seen, from their fishing boat, off Dunvegan Head (Brian Smith & Greg Lane). There were two porpoises feeding inside the mouth of Loch Pooltiel and at the foot of Dunvegan Head from 8:30pm onwards. There was an otter fishing between the skerries and the shore in Loch Pooltiel at 9:30pm.
The first bluebells have begun to flower at 2 Lower Milovaig.
Swallow sightings are still very sparse this Spring but there was a single roosting on overhead wires at 2 Lower Milovaig early morning.
The first redshank of the spring was on the white beach at Lower Milovaig, early evening.
Unusually, a small group of 3 shelducks flew low over Meanish Pier, late evening, and out into the Minch. This is our first ever record of shelduck at Loch Pooltiel. There was a red-throated diver on Loch Pooltiel all evening. There were two siskins and two linnets in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig today. There were more swallows arriving, with 2 over the white beach at Lower Milovaig, early evening.
There was a male hen harrier working the flats between Uiginish and the B884 just after 9am (Brian Smith). There was a flock of 20 golden plovers at Ramasaig, mid-morning. There was a swallow on the top road in Lower Milovaig, mid-day (Kathy Lindsley). There were two collared doves in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig, mid-morning. There are now two common sandpipers on the white beach at Lower Milovaig.
There was a summer-plumage red-throated diver off the seaward side of Meanish Pier, early evening.
The violets have all burst into bloom along the bottom road in Lower Milovaig.
The first swallow of the year flew over Beinn Bhuidhe, Upper Milovaig at 11:15am (Clare Gray). There were willow warblers singing from every available tree in Lower Milovaig today for the first time this year. The merlin is still around Lower Milovaig, seen hunting through MacDougal's spruces, late evening.
There were two harbour porpoises in the Minch, just outside the mouth of Loch Pooltiel, at dusk.
The first common sandpiper of the year was on the white beach at Lower Milovaig (Alison Stables, Barry Cooper). A peregrine mobbed a golden eagle on Biod Mor, early morning. There was a golden eagle soaring low over the brae between Fasach and Skye Silver at mid-day. A pair of linnets, the first of the year, alighted briefly in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig, late afternoon. The chiffchaff was singing for the first time this morning at 2 Lower Milovaig. Our pair of redwings at 2 Lower Milovaig were not there today.
The first two willow warblers of the year were at Ramasaig, together with two chiffchaffs. There are a late pair of redwings at Ramasaig, with the male singing late morning. There were merlins putting on superb performances chasing the pipits at Ramasaig, late morning, and, all day, at Milovaig. There was a flock of 10 twite on the bottom road in Lower Milovaig for the first time this year. There is still one great northern diver on Loch Pooltiel (Kathy Lindsley, AS). There are still a pair of red-breasted mergansers on Loch Pooltiel, seen by Kathy today at Pollosgan.
The first butterflies of the year were on the wing, with a small tortoiseshell and a painted lady in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig.
There was an otter fishing off the skerries in Loch Pooltiel between 12pm and 12:30pm (Kathy Lindsley).
There was a large influx of meadow pipits into Lower Milovaig today, with some large flocks around/moving South including a flock of 40, a flock of 60 and another flock of 25 at the pier. Maybe around 200 meadow pipits in Lower Milovaig today. With a buffet like this laid on, it is no surprise that a merlin was hunting them, along the bottom road mid-afternoon. Another chiffchaff has turned up at the boatshed near Meanish Pier and there are still a pair of redwings.
There are still a pair of redwings ,with the male singing on crofts 2 & 4 Lower Milovaig, mid-morning. This is not the latest we've had them but most other winter thrushes are long gone this year. There is also still a chiffchaff in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig.
A pair of red-throated divers in summer plumage were giving amazing close views between the moorings and shoreline at Meanish Pier at around 7:15pm, allowing their red throats to be clearly seen. There was a report that the great northern divers are still on Loch Pooltiel, favouring the Scorr Farm side (Brian Smith).
A small skein of 25 greylag geese flew North over Loch Pooltiel, late morning. There are still two redwings in the spruces at 2 Lower Milovaig and there is still a winter plumage great northern diver on Loch Pooltiel, which was giving good views from the pier, mid-afternoon. There are now wheatears all over Milovaig.
There was a male merlin hunting along and below the bottom road in Lower Milovaig all day.
There was a singing male redwing in the front garden at 2 Lower Milovaig at 7:15am.
There was a redwing at Colbost at 8am and four in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig all evening. Obviously small numbers are starting to move through.
There was a single great auk diving off the skerries in Loch Pooltiel in the morning (Olof Lipra). Another skein of 30+ whooper swans were heading North over Lower Milovaig at 9:30am, followed by another 60 at 10am (Clare Gray).
A flock of seven lapwings put on a wonderful acrobatic display at Pollosgan, early morning and three skeins, totalling 50+ whooper swans came over Lower Milovaig at 11:45am (Clare Gray).
The first two white wagtails of the year were at Neist Point this morning. Also at Neist Point today:female merlin, 2 red-throated divers in summer plumage, a snipe, a cormorant and 3 eiders. Occupied nest counts were: 44 kittiwake, 8 shag, 20 fulmar, 4 herring gull, 5 common guillemot. These breeding numbers of kittiwake and fulmars are exceptionally low and the nesting ledges were eerily quiet. Neist Point was teeming with small stuff: rock pipits, skylarks, meadow pipits, plus 3 pied wagtails and 1 wheatear. There were large flocks of razorbills moving North off the tip with 85 counted in 30 minutes. There was a raft of 22 black guillemots.
Loch Mor had a late female goldeneye.
A redwing was singing at 2 Lower Milovaig, mid afternoon. There were four great northern divers on Loch Pooltiel, late afternoon, and a count of 29 grey seals basking on the skerries at low tide was one of our highest recent records.
The whooper swans are migrating North, with two skeins, first 30, then 40 an hour later, coming over Lower Milovaig this morning.
One of our new young hens at Lower Milovaig was killed by a buzzard this morning, which had plucked and eaten its neck by the time it was discovered. Still two grey wagtails around, seen today in the drain along the track from Carters' Rest to 15/16 Upper Milovaig (Clare Gray). There is still at least one great northern diver on Loch Pooltiel. Golden eagle showing well over Dunvegan Head, as viewed from Meanish Pier, late afternoon.
A superb male merlin chased birds off the feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig at 7am and then continued along the bottom road towards Upper Milovaig.
There were 3 grey wagtails in the drain outside Carters' Rest at 7:55am. A very unusual sighting was a chiffchaff at the roadside between Meanish Pier and 2 Lower Milovaig at around 6:30pm. It was a good 50 yards from the nearest tree and making its way along the ground/fence towards 2 Lower. This is a second individual, as the first chiffchaff was observed only moments earlier high in the spruces there. A great northern diver was giving very close views off Meanish Pier just before dark.
An otter was fishing between the white beach and skerries in Loch Pooltiel at dusk.
Wheatears are still trickling in with another at Carters' Rest in Upper Milovaig and one at Skinidin. There was a grey wagtail in the drain outside Carters' Rest at 7:45am.
There were two lesser black-backed gulls at Lephin, early morning, and the number at Neil Alick's sheep feeding point at Fasach had risen to eight by 6pm. The chiffchaff is still in the spruces at 2 Lower Milovaig.
The first new-born lamb of the season was at Ferinquarrie.
There was a wheatear outside the entrance to Hamara Lodge at 7:50am. There were two gannets diving for the first time this year at Meanish Pier, late evening.
The first chiffchaff of the year was feeding in spruces at 2 Lower Milovaig all day. This is almost a month earlier than normal. A redwing, disturbed in the garden, flew off carrying something (possibly a worm or piece of string?) which it dropped before reaching a tree.
The bees emerged en masse today, with dozens of white-tailed bumble-bees in Milovaig and even Clare Gray's honey bees (from Upper Milovaig) were visiting our comfrey & flowering currants at 2 Lower. Clare reports that her hive was 'literally humming with activity'.
There was a wheatear near the post box on the B884 in Upper Milovaig, late afternoon.
There were a pair of red-breasted mergansers off the white beach at Lower Milovaig, early morning. There were two male wheatears at Meanish Pier in the evening and a group of four Great Northern divers off the seaward side of Meanish Pier.
The primroses are starting to bloom all over Milovaig.
More proof that spring is sprung. There was an early sand martin feeding on flies amongst the spruces at 2 Lower Milovaig early morning.
The first two wheatears of the Spring were on Scorr Farm and there were two Great Northern Divers on Loch Pooltiel, still favouring the Scorr Farm side, late morning (Kathy Lindsey & Nick Carter).
An otter came ashore on the Scorr Farm side of Loch Pooltiel, rolled & rubbed in the seaweed and then disappeared, late morning (Kathy Lindsey & Nick Carter).
There has also been an influx of pied wagtails, with a pair at the pier and a further three pairs along the bottom road in Lower Milovaig, late evening.
Cetacean-watching season began this evening, with the first harbour porpoise of the year in the Minch off Lower Milovaig.
There was a pipistrelle bat on the wing at 2 Lower Milovaig at dusk. The first lesser celandines are starting to open in Lower Milovaig.
There was a single lesser black-backed gull at Fasach for the first time this year and there were two gannets off Meanish Pier for the first time this year. Both species returning at pretty much the same time as last year. A very scarce visitor was a lone woodpigeon that flew South from MacDougals' spruces, near Meanish Pier just before dark. This is only our third record in Glendale in the last 7 years.
A pair of redwings in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig were chasing each other around and the male was in full song in between, clearly showing signs of forming a bond. We usually experience this strong terriorial behaviour each Spring but by mid-April their urge to head North kicks in and they depart.
A pair of golden eagles were soaring over the water pumping station on the B884 between Dunvegan and Skinidin at 5:30pm. The daffodils are in full bloom in Milovaig.
There was an otter fishing off the skerries in Loch Pooltiel shortly before dusk.
There was evidence of more returning wagtails today with a summer-plumage male grey wagtail on the bottom road at 2 Lower Milovaig, a male pied wagtail below the bottom road in Upper Milovaig and another male pied wagtail above the top road in Upper Milovaig. The chaffinches are becoming strongly territorial and we had one attacking its reflection in our kitchen window throughout the weekend.
There were sleet, snow and hail showers throughout the day and even a brief crash of thunder and lightning at lunchtime.
There are still a pair of Great Northern Divers on Loch Pooltiel, although favouring the Scorr Farm side, but nevertheless often giving very good views from Meanish Pier. There was a single razorbill in the mouth of Loch Pooltiel. The razorbills and guillemots are still not back in full strength yet. There was a golden eagle giving good views over Dunvegan Head from Meanish Pier.
There were sleet and snow showers overnight and throughout the day but never really settling.
There were a pair of (unidentified) divers on the Scorr Farm side of Loch Pooltiel, opposite Meanish Pier. Pairs of golden eagles were showing well in both territories in the North of the Glendale/Martin Estates, soaring in the thermals on this lovely sunny, spring day. There was a common guillemot off Meanish Pier for the first time this year.
Kathy Lindsay & Nick Carter had the following on a walk from the end of Holmisdale, below Corkeval to Allt na Banachaig: Merlin in the Banachaig ravine, a woodcock by the shielings on the Hamara and a possible ring ouzel at the crags below Corkeval (heard but not seen).
The first pipistrelle bat of the year was flying in the garden at 2 Lower Milovaig at dusk, a full ten days later than last year.
The fulmars are back at Neist Point, although not in full strength. There were just 32 occupied nests. Still very few guillemots and razorbills around, with just single figures well off shore. Intriguingly, a flock of 15 skylarks flew in off the sea at Neist, clearly having come from the Uists. The wind was blowing directly from the Uists and this obviously assisted them to hop across the Minch. The first lapwing of the year was on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel, early afternoon. There were single great northern divers in Moonen Bay and Loch Pooltiel. The first pied wagtail of the year was at Meanish Pier. There was a fieldfare and a group of 'singing' redwings in the spruces at 2 Lower Milovaig but there appear to be no other continental thrushes around Glendale. On Loch Mor at Waterstein there were 7 goldeneye, 4 goosanders and a pair of tufted ducks.
The skylarks are back, with three in Lower Milovaig (a week earlier than last year). There was a single black-headed gull on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel, late afternoon. These are very irregular visitors and it is extremely unusual for them to arrive so early. The first birds didn't pass through until April 8th last year. There was a good flock of 14 oystercatchers on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel, late afternoon.
The ribes (flowering currants) and snowdrops are in full bloom.
An immature white-tailed eagle flew low over Hamara Lodge at 7:55am, over Pollosgan and across towards Milovaig. There was a redwing in full song at 2 Lower Milovaig at dawn, for the first time this Spring.
After the bitterly cold snap over the last fortnight, the mild weather has returned and the first primrose was in bloom in Lower Milovaig today, nine days earlier than last year.
There was a flock of 11 greylag geese grazing on croft 13 Upper Milovaig all afternoon. At around 3pm, an immature white-tailed eagle flew across the mouth of Loch Pooltiel towards Oisgill. It was a good distance off-shore and being harassed by gulls. There is still a Great Northern Diver on Loch Pooltiel, although it is favouring the Scorr Farm side.
There was a good count of nine grey seals basking on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel mid afternoon.
There was a flock of 30 fieldfares on croft 3 Waterstein, late morning. There was a flock of 8 golden plover at Neist Point, of which one was partially moulted into its black belly. There are no fulmars at Neist Point yet, when at this time last year there were over 100 pairs already on the nesting ledges. Black guillemots are back in full but other auks are only just beginning to return, with around 30 mixed common guillemots and razorbills well off-shore. There was a curlew at Neist Point, five more at Loch Mor and another three on the white beach at Lower Milovaig. There were 9 goldeneye on Loch Mor, which remained 50% frozen over all day. There was a Great Northern Diver giving very close views off Meanish Pier and a grey wagtail on the bottom road in Upper Milovaig, late afternoon. A golden eagle was giving a good aerial display over Biod Mor at lunchtime. There were a pair of eiders in Moonen Bay.
There was a golden eagle soaring high over Hamaraverin at 2pm. It is very unusual to see them so close to dwellings in Glendale.
It snowed in the early hours of the morning and Glendale awoke to a dusting of snow (our first of 2009), with up to 2cm in places, and temperatures of -2 degrees.
There were three woodcock in Colbost, along the road between Silverdale and the Husabost turn off.
There was an otter fishing off the white beach at Lower Milovaig at 9am, then again off the skerries at 4pm.
There was a single red-throated diver giving very good, close views from Meanish Pier late afternoon but the bird was present on Loch Pooltiel all day.
There were a pair of red-breasted merganser off the white beach at Lower Milovaig, early morning. The robins, chaffinches and song thrushes have begun to sing again for the first time this year.
There were 3 stonechats near Sam's house on the Ramasaig Road, late morning. There were 5 goosander on Loch Eishort all day. There were golden eagles showing well, in the glorious sunshine, at Ramasaig and Lorgill.
There were 4 red deer stags near the shielings on the Fasach common grazings, early afternoon.
An otter caught a large fish off the slipway at Meanish Pier at around 3:40pm which it took ashore onto the rocks at Meanish Point to eat.
There was a single golden eagle putting on a good display over Dunvegan Head, late afternoon. The black guillemots are returning in good numbers and are in various stages of moult, with some in summer plumage, some in winter plumage and one half-and-half.
The first snowdrops are in bloom in Milovaig today, four days later than last year. The buds are just starting to burst on the flowering currants and the days are already over an hour longer. Spring is on its way!
There are still good numbers of woodcock over-wintering in Glendale with birds at Colbost and Skinidin at dawn.
Continuing the arctic theme, there was a lovely sanderling at Meanish Pier, mid-afternoon, which spent a lot of time running up and down the slipway. This is another first for us in Glendale and a scarce winter visitor for Skye.
There was a flock of 30 fieldfares below the bottom road in Lower Milovaig, mid-morning, together with a handful of redwings and two mistle thrushes.
There were a pair of greenfinches using the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig today for the first time since the autumn. We had a catastrophic decline in the breeding success of greenfinches last summer and they have been pretty scarce ever since.
There were a few flurries of snow in the morning but it didn't settle.
A cracking, almost pure white, 2nd winter Glaucous Gull flew low over Loch Pooltiel and out into the Minch at around 3:15pm.
There was a woodcock wandering around at the roadside, in the dark, at Skinidin at 6pm.
There was an otter fishing around 50m off the seaward side of Meanish Pier at around 2pm. It came ashore onto the rocks and either seemed to be having some problems with ecto-parasites or was moulting. It was distinctively coloured, having a healthy-looking dark brown mane but with a very pale back and flanks, on which the fur was in very poor condition. The otter spent over an hour, below the tide line, scratching itself violently, rubbing itself against rocks and rolling around on clumps of bladder wrack. This was not the usual preening and scent marking behaviour.
There was a single black-throated diver at the seaward end of Loch Pooltiel, late afternoon.
The New Year is getting off to a cracking start! There was a superb 1st winter Iceland Gull roosting on the skerries in Loch Pooltiel, late afternoon, which transferred to Meanish Pier, where it gave tremendous close views (to within 10m) before it was attacked by a herring gull and flew off onto Dunvegan Head. There was also a lovely Great Northern Diver giving very close views from the pier at the same time. There were 3 goldfinches using the peanut feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig in the morning.
A group of 8 grey seals were putting on an incredible mating display around the skerries in Loch Pooltiel, late afternoon, with lots of splashing and breeching like dolphins.
There were two male reed buntings eating spilled seed at the bird feeders at 2 Lower Milovaig, late morning. There are still 3 black-throated divers favouring the sea-ward end of Loch Pooltiel.
There was a flock of 10 snow buntings and a flock of 7 golden plover on Waterstein Head. On Loch Mor at Waterstein, there were 3 lapwings, 7 redshank, 5 goosander, 9 goldeneye and 2 tufted ducks. There was a good flock of 40 golden plovers and a flock of 7 curlews in the area between Loch Mor and the Neist Car Park. There were 3 eiders in Moonen Bay.
We are still experiencing a major influx of snipe, with at least 6 around Waterstein/Loch Mor and another 4-6 in Milovaig.
I'd just like to wish all the regular visitors to this page a very happy New Year.
*AMI = Andy's Midge Index (mean number of bites per hour).