June 6th – 7th – Knapdale to Kyle of Lochalsh   Leave a comment

From Edinburgh we drove in heavy rain to the west coast, fortunately it had ceased by the time we reached Loch Lomond. We drove through mountains and sleepy towns to Knapdale, an area of extensive forestry at the north end of the Kintyre peninsula.

First we headed to some nearby Standing Stones and Neolithic burial grounds and then to the site of the Scottish Beaver trial, an attempt to re-introduce these magic mammals to the UK. Having established where the spot was we continued on to Kilmory where we had wonderful panoramic views to the islands of Jura, Islay and down the Kintyre Peninsula.

Views towards Jura and Islay

 Having checked into our B&B we drove back to the Beaver site. This was not the open pond with surrounding woodland that I have seen at North American Beaver sites, but flooded birch and alder woodland with very little visibility. To make matters worse there were several Mallard families so the brown object glimpsed through the vegetation was not necessarily a Beaver.

Scotland is famous for its midges but I have never seen them in such numbers as at Knapdale. In spite of bug repellent and covering as much skin as possible we were still tormented almost beyond endurance. Margaret had to give up and wandered down to the main loch where she saw an Otter. Unlike Shetland there were large numbers of woodland birds, Willow Warblers and Siskins were abundant, whilst Lesser Redpolls provided a nice comparison with the Mealies we saw on Shetland.

 

The Beaver pond, the dam is on the top right of the pond.

 

I was back early on the 7th, crossing the Crinan Canal which cuts across the head of the Kintyre Peninsula I headed for the introduction site where almost immediately I saw a leafy branch being towed through the water. Sure enough it was being towed by a Beaver! So far there are four Beaver families in Knapdale. I really hope this trial is a sucess and is extended elsewhere, not just because it would be nice to have these mammals back in the UK but because of all the wet woodland habitat they create.

Early morning mist on the Crinan Canal.

 

A very poor shot in poor light of the Beaver towing a leafy branch.

 

Later we headed north via Oban. From Oban we took a major detour, heading inland to cross Rannoch Moor before descending into Glencoe and rejoining the coast road. We drove through Fort William and headed for our B&B, Glendale Lodge near Banavie, famous for its visiting Pine Martens. We didn’t have to wait long in mid evening a Pine Marten appeared on the steps. I was sitting with my laptop on my knee editing photos. I rapidly ran off a few shots only to realise the memory card was still, of course, in my laptop! That sorted I got a few shots, the main problem that this attractive mustelid came too close, some times only inches away on the other side of the glass! I can certainly recommend this B&B to anyone who wants to see this wonderful animal.

 

Oban

 

Pine Marten checking if it’s evening snack has been put out.

 

They really do come this close!

 

I was recommended this B&B by fellow Dorset birder Chris Chapleo. Who should I find at this B&B but Chris and his family, talk about co-incidence!

 

The following day we searched for Chequered Skipper, a butterfly whose UK range is confined to a 20Km radius around Fort William. I found one but in the strong wind and drizzle it only showed briefly. Our first White-tailed Eagle over Loch Archaig. Later we drove to Kyle of Lochalsh where we took the bridge over to Syke.

 

The Caledonian Canal joins Loch Ness and other lochs with the west coast allowing boats to pass from Inverness to Fort William. Ben Nevis, which at 1300m is the highest point of the UK can be seen in the background.

 

Bonny Prince Charlie had to ‘go over the sea to Skye’ but now there is a bridge. Well he didn’t have to go far by sea did he!

Posted June 22, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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