Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Scotland 2015 Part 2 - Fort William and beyond

Back on the mainland, and we headed to Fort William for the next stage of our trip where we had one destination in mind, Allt Mhuic. About 20 minutes outside FW on the Northern bank of Loch Arkaig sits this little gem of a reserve. We had missed the peak time to visit, in Spring and Summer when a mouthwatering array of Butterflies, Birds and Orchids can be seen, but we knew we had a good chance of seeing a species that neither of us had seen before, Scotch Argus. As we arrived on the shores of Loch Arkaig, the sun began to shine and we began to get our hopes up. A lovely grey wagtail was plucking insects from above the water.

Smart as ever Grey Wagtail

The reserve itself was an amazing place, even though we were somewhat out of season. There was Scabious and Goldenrod everywhere and it wasn't long until we connected with a cracking Whinchat as a Buzzard called overhead. We were on our way back down the hill before we found what we had come for. A single Scotch Argus burst off the path from in front of us and dropped into some long grass. We weren't sure how many we would see, so we crept slowly up to it and got great, albeit grassy views of this lovely little butterfly. If we had known what was to come we may not have been so concerned, as by the end of our walk we had seen at least 7 individuals basking in the sunshine. We promised ourselves that we would be back here as soon as possible, it is truly a special place.

Scotch Argus

Our next stop was visiting friends in Inverness, and on the way we planned to stop for a boot around Loch an Eilein to search for what was my top target for the trip! The Loch itself was lovely, although searching through Tit flocks was made slightly tricky by the ever-persistent midges. We thought that it wasn't to be our day, but then we heard it.... unmistakable even at the first time of ever hearing one! A quick scan of the nearby trees revealed two simply sublime Crested Tit. Yes yes yes! They spent a good few minutes calling and feeding in the trees above us before moving off into the woods. These little birds alone are worth driving hundreds of miles to spend time with. The always lovely Red Squirrels were also making their presence known around the loch; one can only hope that in the future this species will recover across Britain and become a regular site wherever you may be!

Stunning.... Crested Tit

A lovely Red Squirrel.

We arrived in Inverness very very happy, and all set to explore even further North! All that is to come in the next post......