Archives for May 2017

The New and the Old

Today, I was out early in a beautiful May morning to see one of my favourite sights and that’s the spring gathering of Arctic ringed plovers at my local estuary, Findhorn Bay. The reason I enjoy it so much is that they are so vibrant and full of life. Today’s flock numbered about 1000 birds mainly ringed plovers but also a good scattering of summer plumage dunlin and four sanderlings. They allow quite a close approach and you can see them feeding busily at the surface of the mud and every now and then one of them would jump up with a few flutters of its wings like kids wanted to get started with the race. I know that tonight or a few nights time the flock will take off, head north up over Scotland and then out over the Atlantic Ocean to Iceland and on to their Arctic breeding grounds in Greenland. It’s a privilege to see them on migration as it just gives me a lovely feeling of the world on the move and freshness of new life.

When back home at breakfast I received a phone call from a friend who told me that his father died overnight. His name was Reay Clark, he was 94 years old, and for me it has been a privilege to know him over the years. He was a farmer in Easter Ross and Sutherland, but much more than that he knew so much about farming and trees and land-use and people. He was one of my mentors in the 1980s and 90s when I wanted to know more about farming in the Highlands – I remember talking with him about the importance of cattle in improving the land in so many different ways when I was writing a document about cattle and conservation. In fact, Reay knew exactly what ‘keeping a farm in good heart’ really meant; sadly far too few farmers know what that means nowadays. A couple years back, when he was over 90, I called in at his farmhouse at Edderton and found him surrounded by books with boxes of papers on the floor. He was researching and writing a book about Cheviot sheep and his ancestors in north Sutherland. When published it was a fascinating history of that era in Highland life. I and many others will miss his wise words and friendship.

Breeding season activity

Roxy movements suggest that she is breeding in her usual haunts

Usual wandering in Eastern Cairngorms

Mackay has been wandering widely in the last month in an area of 1900 square km in easetrn Cairngorms; mainly south of Brown Cow Hill recently.

April 22nd – May 15th

Ranging across the North Highlands

Loyal has continued to move between the East Sutherland/Caithness border to Cape Wrath side, and lately has spent time in Borgie Forest area

April 16th – May 17th

Ranging widely as usual

Globe ranged widely in last month – south to Loch Maree on 26th April and north to Cape Wrath on 29th, Oykell on 7th May and around Ben Dearg on 15th May – an area of 3400 square km.

April 15th – May 16th


No change

Canisp remained in the Foinaven SPA area with a flight to Rhiconich on 21st April and to the eqast end of Loch More on 9th May

Monadhliaths to north Inverness-shire

Agnes left the upper Dulnan catchment in the Monadhliaths on 16th April and next day flew over Invermoriston to her usual northern glens area, and then spent most of the time in an area of 25 square km NW of the mountain An Socach.


April 16th – May 17th