Where Eagles Dare – Field Trip on 15th December 2007

A daring decision was taken to undertake this trip, as the forecast was for force six southerly winds, but as we assembled at Balvicar Jetty, it was apparent we had made the right choice. The weather was dry and the wind had dropped slightly.

Our first sighting was a Little Grebe fishing close to the jetty, and several Eider were out in the bay. As we moved down Seil Sound,  Eider and Red-breasted Merganser moved out of the way as we gained speed heading south for Torsa, Luing, Scarba, Jura and the Corryvreckan Whirlpool.

Seil Sound produced Herring, Common and Black-headed Gulls and a single winter plumaged Black Guillemot. As we approached Cleit’s Rock near Torsa, the island was hardly visible as it was covered in sixty-seven Shag.  Passing down the east side of Torsa we had good views of Con Castle (Dog’s Castle) and we learnt a little of its history. At the southern end of Luing we had a good flock of twenty-five Lapwing, a fairly uncommon sight these days.

We picked up speed again now, heading for the Corryvreckan.  Our first sighting of White-tailed Sea Eagle was a juvenile sat in a stand of trees close to the shore. He eventually took flight and moved south, giving wonderful views. The sea now became very rough as we entered the Corryvreckan, an experience not to be missed.  A good number of Wild Goats were feeding on the northern end of Jura and a Red Deer could be seen on distant rocks. Two Golden Eagles were sighted, an immature bird and an adult, in an area that regularly produces these birds.

We nearly ran down a Guillemot as we navigated through the whirlpool, and this was only one of two we counted. More excitement followed as we picked up one then two adult White-tailed Sea Eagles heading East along Scarba. David turned the boat and followed the two birds around the coast of Scarba.  We hadn’t gone long before the two Eagles were soaring above us, giving wonderful views. The two previous Golden Eagles sightings, seem to pale into insignificance.

We continued north now to head through the Grey Dogs at the north end of Scarba. We had good views of a stag Red Deer here before moving north again past Fladda Lighthouse. This is close to Belnahua one of the original Slate Islands and an interesting place to visit, with some derelict slate workers cottages.  A Common Seal was noted near Cuan, but no Grey Seals. Moving back towards Balvicar along Seil Sound we again disturbed a winter plumaged Black Guillemot, probably the same bird as before. A single Grey Heron was sat fishing on the shore close to the heronry at Ballachuan and several Black-headed Gulls floated by.  We arrived back at Balvicar Jetty, exhilarated by the experience and thankful we had dared to risk the weather