Monday, 29 February 2016

19th February - Staffin Bay & Loch Harport, Isle of Skye

No amazing view from the windows this morning, the clouds had rolled in and the rain was once again lashing across the moorland behind the shed.  The original forecast was for this to continue through the morning with the rain easing during the afternoon, however this morning that forecast saw the rain continuing through the afternoon.  We had decided to go out regardless of the weather, but delayed our departure.

The radar showed a break coming so we set off at lunchtime, and headed back to Staffin in the hope that we could see the otters once again.  The drive took us through Portree, and the rain and mist would come and go as we headed north, the views of yesterday looking completely different.

We arrived at Staffin in the rain, and also quite a strong wind.  Parked on the jetty the car was rocked by wind.  We looked out across the beach, and through the rain on the windscreen Helen pointed out a head swimming across the open water, an otter heading for the breakwater.

In the hope of the rain easing we drove back to the beach where we could position the car so that the rain kept off the windscreen and we could see across the beach.  The river was flowing a lot faster than yesterday.  A Great Black-backed Gull was feeding on a white shape that turned out to be a dead sheep washed down to the beach by the river.  In close attention were two Hooded Crows but the gull was far more aggressive in its approach to them than the Herring Gull with the starfish.

We drove back to the jetty, in the hope that it may still change but it never did.  The sheep were feeding on the beach once again, and with them was a group of seven Greylag Geese.  We then cut our losses and set off back towards Portree.

From Portree we headed back to Dunvegan, then turned south heading to the Black Cuillins, the weather had eased and in places there were patches of blue sky.  we wanted to try and visit the Fairy Pools, but as we arrived the wind and rain came back, so to give it time to clear we drove through the beautiful Glen Brittle.

Finally the rain eased and we returned to the car park with a view to walking to the Fairy Pools.  Looking across the glen you could see the stream running down from the mountains.

The pools consist of crystal clear water created by the waterfalls that cascade down from the mountains.

We walked down the hill, and immediately came across a problem, the stream coming from behind us was flowing very fast, the path crossed this stream via stepping stones.  Today the stones were definitely not stepping, it would have been more wading.

We were not crossing here, and we couldn't find a suitable place to cross, so our walk to the Fairy Pools was over before it began.

We turned around and walked back up the hill, looking west there was a lovely view down Glen Brittle.

So what to do?  The weather was improving now, so we decided to head back, hopefully finding something to look at along the way.  The road took us back through the forests and then down to the village of Carbost.  As we approached the mouth of the river Drynoch we had some good views across the water.  Close in there was a large number of Hooded Crows in a nearby tree.

Out on the water there were Wigeon and Mallard and a pair of Goosander that immediately flew off.  In the shallower areas close to the reeds there were several Oystercatcher, and the first Lapwing of the trip.

Back on the A863 we headed north, and then around the north eastern arm of Loch Harport where once again we were treated to some stunning views as the sun finally emerged below the thick heavy clouds.

The scenes were changing fast as the clouds and sun changed position above the distant mountains.

For once we did not go to see the swans, but as we turned off to head to the shed ahead of us there was a shard of light breaking from behind the Tables.  It was a small window of opportunity to get the photograph and I almost didn't make it.

this was to be our last moody scene on this lovely beautiful island.  There may not have been the huge amount of wildlife (amazingly we never saw a Red Deer) but this was made up for with the incredible scenery, the changing light and views, and the spectacular weather.

As we arrived back at the shed we were greeted by our new friends, maybe they were sad to see us go.

The forecast for the journey home was mixed, maybe there would be snow but it was going to be a challenging journey back to Glasgow.  In the end we set off early, and ironically on the way came across a White-tailed Eagle hanging over Loch Harport, and Helen saw some Red Deer.  The cameras though were packed away.  We encountered snow through the Great Glen, but the worst part of the journey was around Loch Lomond, the rain fell down and in places the road was a wash with lots of standing water.  We arrived though in Glasgow four hours before our flight.  A great week though, both for the accommodation and for the landscape and scenery.

Birds Seen On The Trip:

Whooper Swan
Greylag Goose
Canada Goose
Barnacle Goose
Red-breasted Merganser
Red-throated Diver
Black-throated Diver
Grey Heron
Little Grebe
White-tailed Eagle
Golden Eagle
Ringed Plover
Black-headed Gull
Common Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Black Guillemot
Rock Dove / Feral Pigeon
Collared Dove
Hooded Crow
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Song Thrush
House Sparrow
Meadow Pipit

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