Article originally published in the Assynt News during November 2012
If you remember this time last year we had no rowan berries to speak of but it was, at least, a bit drier and definitely warmer. Bird wise we had the first ever Bean Geese recorded in Assynt at Raffin, hundreds of Blackbirds and the first arrivals of the ‘white-winged’ gulls – we ended up with dozens of them right through the winter.
This year we have rowan trees heavy with berries but very few geese of any species around. There are a few Blackbirds but, as yet, no Iceland or Glaucous gulls; what we do have, however, is a great influx of Waxwings which are irregular winter visitors to the UK from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia where they breed in varying numbers.
Continue reading Waxwing Winter
Article originally published in the Assynt News during May 2012
Assynt Rare Raptor Record
Why do we bother to look at or listen to the weather forecast? It seems that the information given by a big broadcasting company on its website and wireless broadcasts rarely match each other never mind what the weather actually turns out to be.
Oh well, despite knowing this we had been (mis)led to believe that Tuesday 8th May was to be a heavy rain day so thought we would be as well to catch up with our sightings records.
Continue reading Assynt Rare Raptor Record
Article originally published in the Assynt News during February 2012
A Bird in the hand
Last week pupils at Lochinver Primary School teamed up with the Highland Council Ranger Service, the local RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) staff and the Highland Ringing Group to get a closer look at some of our local birds.
The children had been studying birds with the Ranger, Andy Summers. They had been putting out peanuts and seeds in the playground for several weeks and a great number of birds had started to arrive. All the birds were observed from a safe distance and counted. The results were sent into the RSPB as part of the national Great Garden Bird Watch. But some of the children said they would like to see the birds closer.
Continue reading A Bird in the hand
Extract from BBC News Highlands and Islands 22nd October 2010
Water Voles thriving at Quinag
Numbers of Britain’s fastest-declining mammal are on the rise at Quinag in Assynt. Researchers from Aberdeen University found that water vole numbers are increasing at the site, despite a decline of the mammals across the UK.
Continue reading Water Voles thriving at Quinag
Article originally published in the Assynt News during January 2012
Awash with white-winged gulls
It’s an ill wind as the proverb goes. While we have certainly had a few bad winds in the last couple of months at least we haven’t, yet, been snowed or frozen in. The almost complete lack of snow allowed us to get back to Assynt quite a bit earlier this year and so, happily, we got our 2012 Assynt bird list up and running.
Our first Assynt bird of the year was Whooper Swan with two of them spotted on Cam Loch as we drove north through Elphin. We thought we might have started with Jackdaw as Elphin holds the only population of them in Assynt.
Continue reading Awash with white-winged gulls
Article originally published in the Assynt News during December 2011
152 and counting!
How many lists does a birder keep? To be honest the list of lists is limitless. We keep three; a life list – all the birds we have ever seen; a year list – all the birds we see in a calendar year and an Assynt list – a “life list” of Assynt Birds. Oh and, sorry, a list every time we visit Assynt.
We can assure you that’s not bad. Some birders have many, many more, e.g. week lists; month lists; town lists; county lists; country lists; holiday lists, you get the idea. The best one though, and hands up we do it from time to time without actually keeping a list, is a list of birds seen or heard on TV – great fun practicing your bird song and call recognition with the heating on.
Continue reading 152 and counting!
Article originally published in the Assynt News during September 2011
Fins and Feathers
Having done enough chores for the day we decided the rest of Thursday 1st September was our own. It had turned out a warm, bright and relatively calm day so it seemed a good idea to head to Stoer Head lighthouse and just sit and watch.
We arrived at the car park just before 4pm, pleased to see Leigh’s food van was still open for a cuppa. She was busy with customers so we had a scan over the water with the binoculars. It must only have been seconds but we picked up ‘fins’ way out in the Minch. The initial thought was a pod of Common Dolphin but they were too far out to be seen so well through bins. While hurriedly extracting the scope from the car we dared to think this could be Killer
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Article originally published in the Assynt News during July 2011
This is a bird article with a bit of a difference as, although a bird is involved, it is mainly about an Otter. A wee warning to those of a nervous disposition – it’s a bit gruesome.
There are probably very few folk who do not delight in seeing one of Assynt’s otters feeding around the coast from Kirkaig to Kylesku.
Continue reading Otter Insight
Article originally published in the Assynt News during June 2011
Here’s a roundup of a few nice gull sightings in Assynt over the past few weeks.
It all started on 17th May when two birders, who had travelled specially to see the 1st summer male Surf Scoter on Loch Dhrombaig and which was reported in a recent Assynt News, spotted a Franklin’s Gull at Clashnessie Bay. This is a two star rarity and had a few of us twitching but we eventually got it at 9.30pm the same day in pretty wet and windy conditions.
Continue reading Gulls Galore
Article originally published in the Assynt News during May 2011
North American Visitor to Assynt
It seems our luck continues to hold. Within a couple of hours of arriving at Culkein Drumbeg on 7th May we were scanning Loch Dhrombaig to see what birds were around.
There were a few Shags, two Great Northern Divers and a pair of Common Eider on the loch and the air was full of Willow Warbler song and the chatter of the Swallows which nest nearby.
Continue reading North American visitor to Assynt