Sunday, 10 June 2012

Fersit, near Fort William, Scotland 2 - 9 June 2012

We spent the week from Saturday 2 June at Fersit, roughly eight miles east of Spean Bridge, north of Fort William. The main purpose of the visit was to visit a few Chequered Skipper sites around Fort William where it has its stronghold. In addition we rented a cottage that was in a fairly remote area with its own largish area of garden so we could take the butterflying sessions fairly leisurely in the middle of the day with a little bit of ringing before and after the butterfly site visits.

Saturday 2 June 2012

Having had a relatively traffic free journey up apart from a 2.7 mile crawl to end of the dual carriageway on the A82 north of Glasgow we arrived at Forty William just after six to find Morrisons virtually totally devoid of any fresh produce or bread, as so often can be found at a holiday town supermarket late on a Saturday. We then arrived at the cottage at Fersit at about half seven, finding that it comes with resident Hobo family who live in a caravan joined to a self made wooden hut.

There were already a couple of feeders in the garden with Siskin coming to them regularly, with quite a few Chaffinches, but the Lesser Redpolls were seen and heard overhead, but seemed to avoid using the feeders. The track down to the cottage had a Wheatear and quite a few Meadow Pipits in the open area. We set up a couple of extra feeders and put a single 20 feet net behind the feeder next to the cottage.

We caught seven Siskin, one of which was already ringed, Y382054. This should have been a ‘yea – control!’ moment, but we began to have concerns that a local ringer might be operating close by.

Strawberry jam was put on a feeding post next to the conservatory for the Pine Marten that is supposed to visit the garden. We did not expect a quick result and watched a DVD from about an hour, during which time it came and scoffed the lot. We should have read the visitors’ book before hand, as apparently it is very regular between 10 and 10.20pm – when we were watching TV!

Catch: 12 (1)

Great Tit – 1
Chaffinch - 5
Siskin - 6 (1)

Sunday 3 June 2012

The day started clear and bright, with a fairly brisk cool breeze, with the cloud during the middle part of the day bunching up with a few periods of bright sunshine, but by the end of the day there was not a cloud in the sky, and the wind had dropped completely. We did a bit of ringing in the morning and late afternoon. We re-captured Siskin Y382054.

Early morning saw a couple of Raven fly over and a Cuckoo was in the area.

Late morning we made a visit to Glen Loy mainly for Chequered Skipper, but with little direct sunlight they were not easy to find, it was a while before I found one, clinging for dear life in the stiff breeze, to a bluebell, then Denise found another and at another spot we had another two, but they were mainly resting with their wings closed. We saw three Green Hairstreaks and a single Small Pearl-boarded Fritillary. Birds seen included three Whinchat, a couple of Tree Pipits and three Buzzards, but we were unable to find any Dippers on the River Loy.
Chequered Skipper

Small Pearl-boarded Fritillary

Green Hairstreak

Coal Tit

Great Spotted Woodpecker


Catch: 40 (2)

Great Spotted Woodpecker – 1
Robin - 2
Blackbird – 1
Blue Tit – 1
Great Tit - 3
Coat Tit - 3
Chaffinch – 14 (1)
Greenfinch - 2
Siskin – 12 (1)

Monday 4 June 2012

The day was reasonably bright with little wind. An early ringing session was had before heading off to Glasdrum Wood. Denise found a Spotted Flycatcher in the birches on the opposite side of the railway line and the Pine Marten unexpectedly turned up around nine.

We arrived mid-morning at Glasdrum Wood to a mixture of sunshine and cloud cover. We managed to see at least ten Chequered Skippers along with eight Small Pearl-boardered Fritillaries, a couple of Orange Tips and a Small Heath.

Chequered Skipper

Small Pearl-boarded Fritillary

Golden-ringed Dragonfly

Chequered Skipper

As we headed back we stopped at Cuil, where there was supposed to be a colony of Marsh Fritillaries. We were either too early or the colony had gone. In the bay was an Eider with only a single ducking left. A Red-throated Diver flew in to feed, four Common Sandpipers were seen along witch a family of Stonechats. A pair of Teal were on a small fishing Loch.


Red-throated Diver

 A stop to look across the western end of Loch Leven produced 11 Eider, a Goosander, four Arctic Terns and a Black Guillemot.

Upon returning to Fersit we did some more early evening re-capturing Siskin Y382054 again. Surely individuals of this nature are behind the old adage that mist netting, considered to be a random catching method, catches more stupid birds and therefore can not be representative. This evening the Pine Marten made an appearance at a reasonable hour, turning up at about 10.30pm. It also likes chocolate biscuit and peanut butter.

Pine Marten



Siskin - 3J

Catch: 23 (4)

Wren -1
Blackbird - 2
Song Thrush – 1
Greenfinch - 1
Chaffinch - 5
Siskin – 12 (4)
Bullfinch - 1

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Again we did our morning and early evening ringing split around skipper hunting.

We headed off earlier today to another Chequered Skipper site at Allt Mhuic by Loch Arkaig. When we got there it was sunny without any cloud cover. Chequered Skippers seemed thin on the ground, but the five seen were on the wing showing little interest in alighting. The only other butterfly seen was a couple of Small Pearl-boarded Fritillaries. There was a singing Wood Warbler in the silver birch and a couple of Tree Pipits.

Northern Emerald

Small Pearl-boarded Fritillary

Large Red Damselfly

Allt Mhuic and Loch Arkaig

Looking over Loch Arkaig we had a couple of Greylag and four Red-breasted Margansers and at Chia-aig a couple of Dipper on the river, one adult and a juvenile.

We then stopped off at Clunes, another Chequered Skipper site, but had no success though I did come across a singing Pied Flycatcher and a Grey Wagtail.

Four-spotted Chaser

Driving along back towards Gairlochy we had a pair of Redstart on the roadside.

We then did a second visit to Glen Loy, but by now it had become cloudy. We managed to find four Chequered Skippers, two Small Pearl-boardered Fritillaries, two Green-veined Whites, along with Orange Tip, Green Hairstreak and Peacocks.

Chequered Skipper

Small Pearl-boarded Fritillary
Denise picked up the Spotted Flycatcher in the evening again, which was then found in one of the nets. We also caught our first Willow Warbler which took a while considering there are several in the garden singing. We captured Y382054 again. A Woodcock flew over whilst doing the Pine Marten watch, which did not turn up by 11.30pm so was not seen on this night. 

Willow Warbler

Spotted Flycatcher

Catch: 34 (18)

Willow Warbler - 1
Blue Tit - 2
Great Tit – 1 (1)
Spotted Flycatcher - 1
Greenfinch - 3
Chaffinch – 9 (4)
Siskin – 17 (13)

Wednesday 6 June 2012

No morning ringing was done as we were to head off to the Aviemore area. But, whilst doing some updating of the log, the Pine Marten put in a brief appearance in the morning. There was no food out so it departed swiftly across the railway line.

Pine Marten

As we headed towards the Spey Valley in a heavy low clouded sky, the rain started to come down and remained with us more or less all day in varying strength. This somewhat limited what we did around Aviemore, and certainly put any thoughts of trekking up the Cairngorms towards Ben Macdui out of the question as the tops were covered in low cloud.

On the way over to Spey Valley we had a male Redstart at Mains of Glentruim, but we failed to find the area where about 20 years ago we had Black Grouse, possibly as we were not looking in the right spot. First visit was to Loch Garten, where we did manage a walk in light drizzle before the remainder of the day was more or less constant heavy rain. We managed to pick up the obligatory Osprey on the nest, six Crested Tits including a family party of at least one adult and two juveniles, three Spotted Flycatchers, four Common Sandpipers and a female Goldeneye. We disturbed a Roe Deer in the woods and there was again the obligatory Red Squirrel on the Osprey centre feeders.

We had a look at Tulloch Moor for Black Grouse without any luck and had just three Whinchats and a few Tree Pipits. A stop off at Loch Morlich, a site were previously we knew held Black-throated Diver failed to produce any, but there was a male Wigeon, Tufted Dick, two Goldeneye and a couple of Common Sandpipers. Whilst at the Loch Morlich cafĂ© we had very close views of a Red Squirrel that came to the feeders especially set up for them. A visit to the car park at Coire na Ciste on Cairngorm and we managed to pick up a singing male Ring Ouzel which also showed well across the other side of a small gully. Final visit was to Loch Vaa, but we failed to find any Slavonian Grebes here with just four Goldeneye and a male Red-breasted Merganser visible. 

Upon our return we managed to get a short period of evening ringing in. The midges were worse than ever and we found that the re-traps outnumbered the new birds. There was definitely no need to worry about treading on anyone else’s toes, although Y382054 was caught yet again, there have been no further controls. We left two biscuits out for the Pine Marten today, just to see if it comes at other times of the day. One had gone and the other remained so now we pose ourselves the question ‘Was it the Pine Marten or was it perhaps the hobos at the top of the hill?

Greenfinch - 3J

 Catch: 12 (9)

Blue Tit – 0 (1)
Great Tit – 0 (1)
Chaffinch - 4
Greenfinch - 2
Siskin – 6 (7)

Thursday 7 June 2012

Today was a bit of tourist type day, we took the steam train from Fort William to Mallaig, sadly on the hottest and only sunny day of our last three days in Scotland. We had a hunt around Mallaig for Otters without success but managed a few Manx Shearwaters, three Shags, couple of Gannets and a lone Eider off the harbour.

Eigg & Rhum from Mallaig

In the morning I had some Common Crossbills fly over the cottage and when we got back we did some morning/evening ringing. Again re-traps dominated. And yes, Y382054 turned up, which by now was named ‘Dopey’.

Lesser Redpoll - 5 male

Catch: 11 (24)

Robin – 0 (1)
Blackbird – 0 (1)
Willow Warbler -1
Great Tit – 0 (1)
Greenfinch - 1
Chaffinch – 1 (7)
Siskin – 8 (14)
Lesser Redpoll - 1

Friday 8 June 2012

The weather again today was overcast and though it did not rain, the temperature was rather low, with a brief sunny period mid afternoon.

Today’s sortie was to two Glens around Fort William in the hope of possibly picking up Golden Eagle. The first was Glen Roy, which despite some hard effort to make the Buzzard that was about a mile away on the top of a ridge a Golden Eagle, all we managed was four Buzzards, though we also had three Ravens, three Wheatears, found two Ring Ouzel territories, with a pair and a single female and a couple of Goosander flew up river.

Glen Roy

Next stop off was the far end of Glen Nevis, which still did not give us the wanted Golden Eagle sighting, though there were three singing Wood warblers along the path, two of which showed well, and a few singing Tree Pipits.

Glen Nevis

On the lane on the way back to Fersit at Inverlair we flushed a Redwing from the roadside.

Again the usual am/pm ringing session, which was even more dominated by re-traps, but we did manage our only Mistle Thrush of the week and our last visit from our Siskin control.

Siskin - 5 male

Mistle Thrush

Catch: 15 (28)

Robin - 1
Mistle Thrush - 1
Willow Warbler – 1
Great Tit - 1
Coal Tit – 0 (1)
Greenfinch - 1
Chaffinch – 1 (5)
Siskin – 9 (22)

Saturday 9 June 2012

Our only quick session was as we cleared up to head home.

Catch: 10 (5)

Wren - 1
Blackbird - 1
Greenfinch – 2
Chaffinch – 0 (2)
Siskin – 6 (3)

On the way back we stopped off at Glen Coe for a quick late scan for any Golden Eagles without success and also still failed to pick up any obvious Red Grouse.

On Rannoch Moor at Loch Ba there were a couple of singing Dunlin, but still no red Grouse, but I did not go across country in an effort to find any.

Loch Ba, Rannoch Moor

Just left with a long drive home past the Olympic torch relay.