Brief Scotland update
I made a whistlestop tour of various places in Scotland last weekend so thought I’d provide a short report in case anyone is visiting the region over the summer. In Perthshire I followed Richard Webb’s recent advice (http://mammalwatching.com/Palearctic/Otherreports/RW%20Scotland%202015.pdf) and can only echo his comments regarding using Bob Smith as a guide & Rosebank B&B as a base. Bob is a great guy, very friendly and enthusiastic; we left Blairgowrie at 6pm, and by 7.45pm had scored excellent views of two independent European Beaver kits. These were away from the usual stakeout (opposite side of the river and downstream) so it was great to have local knowledge. From here Bob drove us to a private site where, after a short wait, a superb male Pine Marten emerged from the forest to feast on peanut butter. Other species seen included Fallow and Roe Deer, Red Fox, and great looks at Bank Vole and a couple of Wood Mice from the hide prior to the marten showing up. A brilliant evening.
Elsewhere in the area, Mountain Hare and Red Deer were seen well on the Blairgowrie side on Glenshee ski area. A Red Squirrel was between Lair & Cray (just east of the A93, by the River Blackwater crossing), with another on the minor road to Tullyfergus just north of Bridge of Cally; I’d seen them at the latter a couple of times a few years ago.
From there I headed west to Mull to join up with a trip to swim with Basking Sharks with Sea Life Surveys. This was a tremendous experience in itself, but I include it here for the marine mammals. The boat trip from Tobermory to Coll was a bit too rough for cetaceans, but we saw a Minke Whale off the Cairns of Coll, where there is a good haul-out of Common Seals; a group of Short-beaked Common Dolphins came in to bow ride as we left Tiree on the return journey; and more Common Seals with just a couple of Greys were on the trip back. Common Bottlenose Dolphins are frequently seen, and they sometimes record White-beaked Dolphins. I also saw a couple of Harbour Porpoise on each of the Oban-Craignure ferry crossings. Otters seem to be common on Mull, and best looked for at low tide – despite the grim weather on arrival, I saw a female and two well-grown young (or maybe yearlings?) at Loch Don, south of Craignure.
Elsewhere in Scotland, Killer Whales have been seen quite a few times in from land in Caithness this summer, although a friend had no luck a week before my visit (but did see White-beaked Dophins and Minke Whale from the north coast); anyone visiting the area in future should check the Caithness Sea Watching Facebook page for sightings.