Showing posts from April, 2015

Animal of the Month

Welcome to Animal of the Month for April 2015. Every month, we will announce our favourite animal that has been featured on the blog at some point during the month.

Which animal has been our favourite this month?

European Otter
Golden Eagle
White-Eagled Eagle

Winner: European Otter
This month has had the most contenders for AotM, and the collection of contenders feature some amazing species that we were very lucky to see as well as we did. It was a very difficult decision this month, but I have decided that the brilliant sightings the Otters gave us on our first day on Harris have earned them the title. This month has featured the best sightings I have ever had of Otters, and I feel that that was the outstanding moment of the trip wildlife wise. The Eagles were of course very close behind, as we had brilliant views of them as well, and the Redwing and Wheatear sightings were special too, it has certainly been a tough decision!

The Eagle Has Landed

As well as Otters, we also saw another magnificent animal many times. The Golden Eagle. We had views of this bird on most days, some closer than others, but they all showed the bird's amazing size and power. On this post is a collection of some of the best footage and images of the birds. Enjoy!

Whilst at the North Harris Eagle Observatory we had some very good views of the birds quite a few times, and being in such a prime spot, I didn't leave my camcorder behind. I grabbed some (quite distant) footage of the eagles soaring around the glen, here it is:

Thank you very much for reading this blog over this month, and for reading about our trip to the Outer Hebrides. 

Otters in the Outer Hebrides

Whilst on the Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, we were lucky enough to have have two very good sightings of Otters, and both were quite close. A family either lived or regularly visited the small bay just outside where we were staying.

Our first sighting was literally within a few hours of arriving on Harris, and it was the longest sighting, with the otters being visible for almost 20 minutes straight. I think it is fair to say that we were very lucky. The family of three swam around, fed and even played very close to where we were standing, which was magnificent. It also allowed some very good photos to be taken and for me to capture some footage of them. And this post is where I will share those images and videos. Below is a collection of footage and photos from the first sighting on that first day.

The trip produced my most amazing encounter with Otters, and I'm not sure it will be beaten any time soon. It was a fantastic experience, and it just shows that the Outer Hebrides reall…

Outer Hebrides Day 9 - Harris Hills

Day 9, our last full day on Harris, and we decided that we would go walking. We had picked a path that went directly up a hill, which also turned out to be the old postman's route, before there were roads connecting the towns of the island. 

We began the walk, and very quickly, as we climbed, we realised how beautiful the scenery on Harris truly is. As we got higher, it just got better and better, as more mountains and scenery came into view. When we reached a certain point on the path, we decided to leave it, and go off-road. We headed towards a tall 'lump' of rock. This meant going through a lot of wet ground, and climbing a couple of other 'lumps' but it was all very fun, and it really felt like an adventure. Eventually, after almost injuring ourselves a few times, we reached the top, and the views were stunning.

The rest of the day was spent packing up, and preparing for the next two days of travelling that were to come. We did get out again though, to a small be…

Outer Hebrides Day 8

Day 8 had begun, and we were up relatively early to get out early. We were out soon after getting up, and off to the beach for the morning. Unfortunately, there wasn't much wildlife at the beach. The main wildlife sightings came when we returned.

Very soon after getting back, we crept up to the small beach on the bay outside the cottage we're staying in. We had heard the call of a wader, but we weren't sure of exactly what it was. That was until we saw it. It was a Greenshank. We had heard, and caught glimpses of them previously in the week, but we had never actually managed to watch them for long enough to get a photo.

After that, we decided to take a trip to Scalpay, which is an island off of Harris, connected by a bridge. Just before we reached the bridge, I spotted a brilliant sign. "Caution! Otters Crossing". There aren't many places that have signs like that.

Scalpay itself was quite rich with birdlife. We spotted numerous Buzzards on the drive around the …

Outer Hebrides Day 7 - Eagle Walk

After going to sleep earlier than usual the night before, we were up and ready for what Day 7 had in store for us. The plan was to go on a guided Eagle Walk organised by the North Harris Trust through a glen in the northern parts of Harris. Apparently the area is fantastic for eagles, so we were definitely looking forward to it.

We were ready to go at 9:45, to be at the meet point at the arranged time of what we thought was 10:30 (it was actually 10:00) so we arrived at the point at 10:10, to see the walkers already walking up the first hill. We ran to catch up, and luckily they waited for us. After almost missing the walk entirely, we all rushed up the first hill, and the walk began.

The scenery was beautiful in the glen, and it looked like perfect habitat for Golden and White-tailed Eagles. Sure enough, within 10 minutes, we had our first Goldie. It was a young one, but it was still impressive as it soared over the hill to our right, allowing us brilliant views of the bird, before dis…

Outer Hebrides Day 6

We were up early, and were on our way to the Calanais standing stones in the early morning. It was a 45-50 minute drive up from our cottage in Harris to reach the area on Lewis, but the drive was definitely worth it.

We arrived at Calanais fairly early, meaning that very few people were around. We went into the visitor centre first, went to the cafe and had a look around the shop. It was cold outside, so we were preparing ourselves to go and see the stones themselves, which are quite exposed. Once we had bought what we wanted to buy, we headed out and up the hill to the Calanais Stones.

They were amazing, and you could actually believe that people could have put them there, as they were a reasonable size, unlike at Stonehenge, where it is hard to believe that all the stones were placed there by people all that time ago. There were also a lot more of them than I expected there to be. It consists of a main stone circle, with four avenues coming off it. Some avenues are longer than others,…

Outer Hebrides Day 5 - Eagles

Day 5 on Harris, and we had our plans for the day. We were going to head up to the North Harris Eagle Observatory, and see if we could catch a glimpse of the resident Golden Eagles in the glen. We were in luck, as I will talk about in a bit.

We were woken up by an invasion of Redwing in the garden, making a lot of noise, and flying around from tree to tree, as well as feeding on the floor. This of course triggered the camera-trap that had been put in the garden last night, and we managed to get some closer shots of the Redwing. Unfortunately, we are having difficulties with the file, so I am not able to put the video up here at the moment.

After this pleasant surprise in the morning we headed off for the North Harris Eagle Observatory. We arrived at Glen Meavaig, and parked up at the small car park on the side of the road. It was then a 2km walk down a track to the observatory itself. The scenery in the glen was amazing, so the walk didn't seem too long, and soon enough, we had arri…

Outer Hebrides Day 4

So the fourth day of the Outer Hebrides Trip has been and gone. It has been another good day for wildlife spotting, and for scenic pictures as well. Let's just get straight into it.

The day started on a high. Straight after getting up, some of us went on a short walk down the coast at low tide, hoping to see some seals, or some different coastal birds. Instead, it was the three otters from the day before, proving that they live and feed in the bay, which is brilliant! They also got a lot closer than expected, and sat and played on rocks very near by. This allowed some amazing footage to be taken, showing the family of otters poking their heads up and obviously trying to get a better look at the camera. What a fantastic start to the day.

The plan for the day was to drive around the whole of South Harris, and see if their were any good spots for wildlife. This meant going past the beautiful beaches that lie on the west coast of South Harris, and they certainly lived up to their expect…

Outer Hebrides Day 3 - Otters

We have arrived in Harris, after two days on the road, and it has definitely been worth the effort to get here. The wildlife is amazing already, and we have only been on the island for half a day. It seems that the Outer Hebrides are living up to their big claims.
We started the day by catching the ferry from Ullapool harbour, and endured the 3hr journey across the stretch of sea separating the Outer Hebrides from mainland Scotland. The journey really made me realise how far away we were going, and how literally on the edge the islands are. Eventually though, we arrived in Stornoway, on the Isle of Lewis. After a quick pit stop in Tesco to gather supplies, we headed off for our cottage on Harris. We drove along the A859, which was a beautiful road, with beautiful views on both sides, and cloud-shrowded mountains visible for the majority of the journey.

Eventually we arrived at our cottage. It is in a prime location, with the end of the garden looking out over a small, sheltered bay whic…

Outer Hebrides Days 1+2 - Travelling

So the Outer Hebrides trip has begun, and it is living up to it's expectations. The scenery has been absolutely beautiful and, although we haven't seen much wildlife yet, the past two days have been very exciting.

Day 1
We were up early, and we were out of Surrey by 9:00 in the morning, heading for Heathrow Airport to catch our flight to Aberdeen. The flight ended up being delayed by 2 hours though, and we only arrived in Aberdeen at 3:30. From there, we picked up the hire car, and began our 2hr30mins drive to Inverness. Once in Inverness, we got to our hotel, ate, and went to bed, ready for the second day.

Day 2
By 10:30 we had left Inverness, and were on the road to Ullapool, where we would be leaving for Stornoway the next day. This road was much more picturesque and exciting than the road to Inverness. The scenery was much more dramatic, and the road carved through glacial valleys and upland moors.

Around halfway through the journey, we reached a large hydroelectric dam called …

Outer Hebrides Trip

Very soon, I will be leaving Surrey, and heading for a week and a half trip across Scotland, to the Outer Hebrides. The Outer Hebrides are a fantastic place to see amazing wildlife you normally wouldn't see elsewhere, such as Golden Eagles, and Otters, so hopefully we will have a lot of amazing sightings to post on the blog!

As you can see from the map above, it isn't only the Outer Hebrides that I will be posting from. The trip shown on the map should take 2 days, so hopefully over that time I will see some wildlife to post about. It's going to be a bumper trip.

I am planning to document this trip here on the blog. Over the week and a half trip, I will most likely be putting up a post per day, maybe one every two, depending on how much is seen, and how exciting each day is. I may also put up other separate posts if something happens or is spotted that deserves it's own post. It is going to be a very exciting time, and hopefully we will see some amazing things.

I am, of c…