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Friday, 16th September, last wildlife day. Out before breakfast, for nearly two hours! We had two hopes: to see black grouse lekking, and to see otters. For the first, we drove through Fort William and just out the other side, to the south I think. When we got to the lekking ground, at first light, the first thing I saw through my binoculars was a jogger climbing a stile at its edge. “Well, that’s put paid to that, then”, said Jon. We hung around a bit to see if any grouse that had been frightened off would come back, but they didn’t.

We moved back through Fort William to the mouth of the River Lochy, (which joins the junction of Lochs Linnhe and Eil at which the town is built) parked in a small industrial estate, and walked through it to the river, with instructions to be very quiet, and not stand too close to the edge of the bank, because the otters were likely in their dens below our feet.

The view at that time of the (very cold!) morning was gorgeous.

Sadly we saw no otter, but did, in the early morning dimness, and over the other side, see goosander,

swans, (plus hooded crow and pigeon),

and a couple of white-tailed eagles, which was an unexpected pleasure.

It was good to get back to Glenloy Lodge for a warming breakfast.

For the rest of the day, it was much warmer than it had been earlier in the week. Not hot, but pleasantly warm, especially in the sun. Today’s main outing again took us on the very first part of the Road to the Isles, that is along the north side of Loch Eil, then back along its southern side, then south along the western side of the upper part of Loch Linnhe.

From the southern side of Loch Eil, we again saw The Jacobite, aka Harry Potter’s train, passing along the northern side.

Highland ponies glimpsed from the van
Yet more while-tailed eagles. Jon thought they might be the same we had seen before breakfast.
Highland cows, in their original colour. The Victorians preferred the red, so red was bred to become the norm.
Jon sees what he can see.
I cannot find this caterpillar in my butterfly book, but an internet search leads me to think it may be that of a Knot grass moth.
An alpaca and two rheas, not animals you expect to see in the Scottish Highlands

Around midday, we left the van for a walk up Stronchreggan, off Loch Linnhe.

David, Jon and Angela ahead of me
One of the largest British dragonflies, the golden-ringed
Two of the smallest, black darters

The others got very excited to see this, an azure hawker. It is only found in the West Highlands. And according to my book, this was pretty late for it to be about.

This, on the other hand, was just a common hawker…

The moon was going down…

Unconnected with that, we had to turn round and make our way back to the van, not least to have some lunch. But I held back, so reluctant was I to tear myself away from the magnificent view, and just being – warm what’s more – in such wild splendour. I took large breaths to try to take it in.

Comma butterfly, unusual in Scotland apparently

We moved further down Loch Linnhe,

and went for another walk, this time along the Cona Glen.

David was very keen to find a Scotch argus butterfly. As we were about to turn round, Jon and Angela found one for him, and caught it in their net. It was very near the end of its active life, but at least it was a Scotch argus.

Meadow pipit

A final look at Ben Nevis, and it was time for home. We returned via the Corran Ferry.

A pine marten decided to oblige before dinner, while there was still some reasonable light for photos.

Those claws!

The wildlife trip was over, but not my holiday. Because of transport timings, I had to remain in the area for another day, so stayed in Fort William on the second Saturday night. The last post in this series will recount a very different day, yet one with some links to the previous six.