Trip report - north and west Scotland

27th June 2015
Dates: 20th to 26th June 2015

Destination: north and west Scotland

Purpose of trip:

The purpose of my trip was my regular annual visit to the region to see bird and mammal species that are not found on a regular basis in Essex or East Anglia.

In addition, weather permitting, I hoped to be able to take some photos of northern landscapes.

Primary target areas:

The primary target areas for wildlife watching and/or landscape photography were:

Perthshire: Loch Leven RSPB reserve, Glen Quaich, Loch of the Lowes SWT reserve

Speyside: Insh Marshes RSPB reserve, Loch Insh, Loch Garten/Loch Mallachie RSPB reserve, Forest Lodge, Dulnain Bridge

Inverness area (south): Loch Ruthven

Sutherland: Loch Fleet, Loch Stack, Loch Laxford, Kyle of Durness, Balnakeil Bay, Tarbet, Scourie Bay, Kylesku

Ardnamurchan peninsula and Morven

Getting there and getting around:

I travelled up to Glasgow by Virgin trains on 20th June 2015 and returned on 26th June 2015 having obtained an extremely good value advance return ticket for £50. As usual, I booked my return ticket via and by using Tesco clubcard vouchers on this website, my ticket cost me nothing .... a bargain!

In Glasgow, I hired a car from the afternoon of 20th June 2015 to the afternoon of 26th June 2015 from Europcar for £89.65 reduced by 10% cashback to £80.69.

During my trip, I had overnight stays at the following:

20th June 2015: Heidl Guest House in Perth

21st June 2015: Beinn Sealladh bed and breakfast in Nethy Bridge

22nd June 2015: I again stayed at Hillside bed and breakfast in Durness

23rd June 2015: Homagen bed and breakfast in Roy Bridge

24th and 25th June 2015: I again stayed at Heatherbank Guesthouse just outside Strontian

This is a summary of my itinerary and route:

20th June 2015: Glasgow – Loch Leven – Perth

21st June 2015: Glen Quaich – Loch of the Lowes – Insh Marshes – Loch Insh – Dulnain Bridge – Nethy Bridge – Forest Lodge – Loch Garten/Loch Mallachie – Nethy Bridge

22nd June 2015: Nethy Bridge – Loch Garten/Loch Mallachie – Loch Ruthven – Loch Fleet – Loch Stack – Loch Laxford – Kyle of Durness – Balnakeil Bay – Durness

23rd June 2015: Durness – Balnakeil Bay – Loch Laxford – Tarbet – Scourie Bay – Kylesku – Loch Assynt – Ullapool – Gairloch – Loch Maree – Kinlochewe – Torridon – Shieldaig – Lochcarron – Shiel Bridge – Invergarry – Spean Bridge – Roy Bridge

24th June 2015: Roy Bridge – Fort William – Corran ferry – Sallachan – Kingairloch – Lochaline – Drimnin – Loch Sunart (Garbh Eilean) – Strontian

25th June 2015: Strontian – Loch Sunart (Garbh Eilean) – Salen – Kilchoan – Sanna – Ardnamurchan Point – Kilchoan – Salen – Strontian

25th June 2015: Strontian – Corran ferry – Glen Coe – Tyndrum – Crianlarich – Loch Lomond – Glasgow

My itinerary did require some amendment during my trip. My planned 2 night stay on Mull had to be abandoned due to industrial action by Caledonian MacBrayne ferry staff and therefore I spent 2 days on the Ardnamurchan peninsula instead.


The weather during my trip was the usual typical Scottish mix of sun, cloud, drizzle and rain. However, and very unusually, it was almost completely windless every day.


During my trip, I was able to record 115 bird species and 12 mammal species.

Trip list - north and west Scotland

With regard to the birds, I was able to add 14 species to my 2015 list.

Summer plumaged Long-tailed Duck, summer plumaged Great Northern Diver, a singing and displaying Wood Sandpiper and a presumably over-summering Whooper Swan were all unexpected sightings.

Whilst I managed to see a single Golden Eagle on the Ardnamurchan peninsula, I did not see a White-tailed Eagle, this principally being due to having to abandon my trip to Mull.

Mammals included Harbour Porpoise (2 in Balnakeil Bay, 2 at Garbh Eilean, Loch Sunart and 3-4 at Camus Torsa, Loch Sunart), Otter (2 at Garbh Eilean, Loch Sunart and 1 at Camus Torsa, Loch Sunart) and Red Squirrel (1 at Loch of the Lowes, 1 at Forest Lodge, 1 at Nethy Bridge and 1 at Loch Garten).

The following summarises the notable wildlife species seen on my trip:

Loch Leven: Tree Sparrow

Glen Quaich: Black Grouse, Red Kite, Curlew, Lapwing, Common Redshank, Oystercatcher, Common Snipe, Whinchat, Brown Hare

Loch of the Lowes: Osprey, Common Redstart, Willow Warbler, Swallow, Swift, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Yellowhammer, Siskin, Coal Tit, Red Squirrel (no sign of Beaver which is now being reported regularly from this site)

Insh Marshes: Curlew, Common Redshank, Heron, Roe Deer

Loch Insh: Osprey, Willow Warbler, Swallow, Sand Martin

Loch Garten-Loch Mallachie: Crested Tit, Goldeneye, Common Sandpiper, Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, Swallow, House Martin, Swift, Willow Warbler, Cuckoo, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Siskin, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Red Squirrel, Roe Deer, Bank Vole

Loch Garten-Nethy Bridge: Spotted Flycatcher, Red Squirrel, Roe Deer

Forest Lodge: Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Red Squirrel

Dulnain Bridge: Common Sandpiper, Grey Wagtail, Dipper

Loch Ruthven: Little Grebe, Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Stonechat (no Slavonian Grebe again this year)

Loch Fleet: Osprey, Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Shelduck, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Heron, Swallow, Common Seal

Lairg to Loch Laxford: Common Buzzard, Raven, Common Sandpiper, Red Deer

Loch Laxford: Black-throated Diver, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Red-breasted Merganser

Loch Laxford to Kyle of Durness: Black-throated Diver

Durness: Wood Sandpiper, Greenshank, Rock Dove, Cuckoo, Swallow, Raven

Balnakeil Bay: Great Northern Diver, Red-throated Diver, Arctic Skua, Gannet, Fulmar, Shag, Black Guillemot, Guillemot, Long-tailed Duck, Eider, Sandwich Tern, Turnstone, Rock Pipit, Harbour Porpoise

Tarbet: Great Skua, Black Guillemot, Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag, Kittiwake, Common Tern, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Rock Pipit, Wheatear, Swallow

Scourie Bay: Eider, Oystercatcher, Shag, Wheatear

Sallachan: Eider, Common Seal

Kingairloch: Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Shag, Heron, Dunlin, Snipe, Oystercatcher, Common Buzzard, Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Whinchat, Stonechat, Swallow, House Martin

Kingairloch to Lochaline: Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Heron, Common Tern, Whinchat, Stonechat, Wood Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Tree Pipit, Cuckoo, House Martin, Siskin, Mistle Thrush, Bullfinch, Red Deer

Garbh Eilean (Loch Sunart): Heron, Oystercatcher, Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Common Tern, Rock Pipit, Otter, Harbour Porpoise, Common Seal

Garbh Eilean (Loch Sunart) to Kilchoan: Golden Eagle, Common Buzzard, Raven, Hooded Crow, Heron, Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, Goosander, Swallow, Sand Martin, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Siskin, Linnet, Otter, Harbour Porpoise, Red Deer

Kilchoan to Sanna: Common Sandpiper, Whinchat, Stonechat, Willow Warbler, Sand Martin, Hooded Crow

Sanna to Ardnamurchan Point: Whooper Swan, Common Buzzard, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Swallow

Ardnamurchan Point: Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Shag, Kittiwake, Oystercatcher, Common Seal

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