To learn where the best nature spots are in a new area I think it’s alway best to ask the locals and a good way to do that it to take a tour with a local guide.
I’ve been on fully led wildlife holidays both in the UK and abroad, and whilst I have enjoyed every one, I don’t think there is any need to have such holidays in the UK. With a bit of planning (not that I’ve done much this time), some maps and a bit of thought into what habitats there are, and what wildlife they may support, you shouldn’t go too far wrong. However, a little local help is alway a bonus!
So today I went on a guided trip, without my (not so) trusty camera, to help familiarise myself with some of the best places to spot the best wildlife on Skye. Setting off midmorning from the main car park in Portree, we immediately headed out to spot otters in a nearby bay. However, no otters were seen but two soaring golden eagles more than made up for it – slowly floating and circling on what little wind and lift there was, they eventually dipped behind the nearby hill.
Perhaps the most unexpected and astonishing sighting was next with thousand upon thousand of migrating thrushes (mainly fieldfares with a few redwings mixed in) forming fly-swarm like clouds passing over the heaths and hillsides. Everywhere we looked there were birds – on the trees, in the heather, on the telephone lines and all round us in the air. This was a true wildlife spectacular.
As the weather started to close in we headed on in search of more eagles. We went to several places without much luck, seeing some red deer instead, but as the rain eased, we were rewarded with two juvenile white-tailed eagles floating around the top of a hill, giving us very good and close views (they were much closer than the photo below suggests).
Moving on again we scoured an area of water for otter but again no luck but at lunch we were rewarded again, but this time by two golden eagles displaying high up above us, one moment soaring and then next stooping and rising like on an invisible rollercoaster.
The afternoon was spent looking for otters and finally we were given a few fleeting views of a couple of these watery mammals. We saw one from a distance but it soon disappeared, so we moved on around to the far side of where we had seen it. From there we had a better view but almost as fleeting. A second otter was then seen, but for just as short a time, with neither to be seen again.
Heading back to Portree, after a few more stops to look for otters, we were given a final sight of a single white-tailed eagle as it flew past back to where we had just come from – a nice, last view to finish the tour.
The trip wasn’t just otters and eagles, however, with plenty of other birdlife seen, in addition to the masses of migrating thrushes – we had well over thirty species by my reckoning.
Although I didn’t have my camera, I still managed some scenic shots of the island with the following two being the best my phone would allow.
I have to say thank you to Andy of Isle of Skye Wildlife Tours for such a great day – he certainly put in the effort to make sure we had the best chances of seeing some pretty spectacular wildlife and I hope everyone went away as happy as I did!