Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Caterpillars, Otters and an Eagle

Quite a weekend.    

On Saturday we had a first, a brief sighting of a golden eagle.   It came up Loch na Cairidh, circled over the croft then flew over Am Meall (which simply means 'the Hill' in Gaelic) and disappeared off towards Blaven.   We are pretty sure it was a golden eagle rather than a sea eagle because there was no white around the tail.   Twice before we have seen sea eagles but this is a first and sadly rather brief sighting of the true native eagle.   I understand that there are an estimated 12 pairs of golden eagles on Skye, and according to Bob Macmillan, the local expert who runs the Skye Birds website and is the author of the really useful book, 'Skye Birds', they have fared less well in the face of the larger, introduced, sea eagles, whose numbers are increasing.   The breeding success of golden eagles is lower than that of sea eagles.  Competition for food may be a factor so maybe we should start putting deer carcasses out regularly!

We had some sun on Sunday, which brought out the first of the Lesser Celandines, surprisingly looking rather battered rather than full of zest.   Also in flower is a willow, probably an Eared Willow though I am still uneasy about a positive id, and it is always amongst the first in flower.   The Bog-myrtle already has male flowers.   This plant is dioecious - there are separate male and female plants.  The female flowers are tiny and I have not found any so far this year. Primroses have been seen elsewhere on Skye, but ours are nowhere near to flowering.    

There were a couple of caterpillars of the Drinker moth on the grass.   The moth flies in July and August.

Late in the afternoon, the otter family showed up - a mother and two cubs.  Fishing just off the slipway at low tide we picked them up just as they came onto the rocks.   They then went back into the water fishing some distance out, well beyond the kelp.   A common seal interrupted their progress on two occasions.   One of the cubs immediately made for the shore when the seal came near, and the mother and second cub both followed suit on each occasion.   

Later the family made their way west into Ainort, fishing close to the shore, quite effectively and coming out onto the rocks several times.    In all I watched them for about 2 hours before I lost them as they went further towards the bay.

Finally the pine marten box is installed 4 metres up a pine tree.   We wait with some interest to see if it gets a resident!   It is possible that the pine marten pictured may not be real.

1 comment:

  1. Those Drinker moth caterpillars will be everywhere in a week or two, but I haven't seen any yet.