|Sept - Nov 2001|
Warden: Simon Franks
Towards the end of September the number of Robins increased, which lead to a number of vocal and physical battles. The Montbretia was still in flower in the middle of September and around the skerries north of the island the Eider Ducks were gathering. The number of Harbour Seals reached a peak towards the end of September, with up to about 55 being seen on the skerries and on the shore of Eilean Mhar. Since then the numbers steadily tailed off, with only the occasional sighting since.
As we move into winter the sightings of Grey Seals have increased. Many mornings, I have seen a single Grey Seal bottling in front of the house. This year the Otters have been doing very well, with a second mother and pair of cubs seen in September. Most of the sightings have been in the bay in front of the bothy, and between Eilean Bàn and Eilean Dudh. The rest of the sightings were in front of the hide. In fact on one day Otters were seen for over 6 hours in the bay in front of the bothy. On a shore walk I came across the remains of a Lesser Blackback Gull on the southeast shore. The body had been striped of all meat but the wings had been untouched. The unusual way it had been eaten suggested it might have been eaten by an Otter. In fact I had seen the mother and 2 cubs in this area the day before.
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By the start of October up to 7 adult and 4 juvenile Gannets were feeding off the southeast side of the island. On the north and west sides we made sightings of Stonechats perched on the top of mature Heather. A Kestrel was also spotted flying from under the bridge on the south side of the island. Pellets were later discovered under the bridge and during analysis these were found to contain a range of small mammal skulls: 1 Field Vole, 2 Common Shrew and a Pigmy Shrew.
The first Eider rafts were forming between Eilean Bàn and Kyleakin in the second week of the October. A mixed groups of birds including Dunnocks, a pair of Great Tits, a Wren and a Stonechat, were all at one point feeding in a very small area together. Chaffinches were also sighted, and on one occasion I saw a pair of Great Tits entering the Skye Road Bridge through a casting hole!
Towards the end of October a few Mistle Thrushes and Black Birds were often to be seen, and in both October and November Curlews were spotted on the shore around the island. By the end of October most of the Rowan and Birch had lost their leaves, while the Ash kept most of theirs until the end of November.
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November saw sightings of Porpoises, including between 3-5 seen swimming under the bridge, heading west, and a second sighting of a pair in front of the house. On several occasions small numbers of Grey Lag Geese flew over the island in a NE/SW direction from Kyleakin, to headland North East of Kyle of Lochalsh. In the middle of November an Owl pellet was found under the bridge, probably from a Tawny Owl. On analysis the content was found to contain only Field Vole remains.