Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Scotland Again - Sutherland - Kinlochbervie, Kyle of Durness and Beyond

We have just returned from another Scottish trip. We stayed at Kinlochbervie and used it as a base to explore. We had two main goals for the trip, to get to Cape Wrath and visit Handa Island. Both of these trips were dependent on decent weather as if the wind is too strong neither boat would run.

Initially the weather forecast for the week was not looking great, with the better weather going to be on the Thursday and Friday, so the plan for Sunday to Wednesday was going to be to explore the nooks and crannies around the area.

On day one the Sunday, I didn't want to drive far after two long drives on the Friday and Saturday (we over nighted in Edinburgh on the way up, so that was a 6-7 hour journey on the Friday followed by a 5-6 hour journey on the Saturday) So we explored our peninsular around Kinlochbervie. It was a really good start despite some rough weather, seeing Black Guillemot in our harbour,
and Ringed Plover on the shoreline. We came across a pair of Whoopers on one of the small Lochs, too distant for a photo, plus at the time it was raining, so the light was poor. We also picked up as you would expect plenty of Wheatear, Meadow Pipit and Stonechat. Offshore Gannet, Great Black-backed Gull, Fulmar were seen. On a slipway we saw our first Common Sandpiper of the year. We didn't get out of the car much as the wind was fierce coming in off the Atlantic, nothing to stop it between us and Canada!

We popped down to Tarbet just for a look as Divers can be seen between the slipway and Handa Island, but not today! We did see our first Shag, Eider and Rock Pipit of the week though. The best sighting of the day though was on Loch na Thull, a single Red-throated Diver,
a distant shot in murky weather, but it had to be done. We were to get better views later in the week.

On day 2 we woke up to a white day, plenty of snow about, the mountains looked fantatstic,
this meant we saw plenty of Red Deer, as the came down to graze.

Almost forgot, before we set out on day 2 had a surprise in the garden of the house we were renting,
in the end we came across Redwing quite a few times on our travels. We first drove up to the Kyle of Durness, this was only 25 minutes from us, the tide was out so were pleased to see some waders on the estuary, the starts being Curlew and Whimbrel.

We drove on up to Durness and Balnakiel, where more Redwing were seen and some Pink-footed Geese having a rest before carrying on to Greenland.
We saw our only Turnstone of the week on the beach at Balnakiel and our first Redshank of the year.

From here we drove along the north coast for a while, where we saw a Great Northern Diver in Loch Eriboll.
Surprisingly this was our only sighting of a GND for the week.
We eventually headed south across moorland and mountains, passing remote lochs and some spectacular scenery on the way before looping around back to Durness, the best sighting on this leg apart from Buzzards were a pair of Black-throated Divers on Loch Hope. It was pouring of rain when we found them and pretty dull, but never mind,

That will do for now, seeing all three Divers in the first two days was amazing!

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