North Coast 500
It was on the 17th April we started on the North Coast 500. We took a slight detour and started on the Isle of Raasay first. This was our first stopping off point and with hindsight we did not have enough time to spend there as we would have liked. The only bird I spotted was a little Guillemot on the ferry across to Raasay from Skye. From Raasay, we went to Applecross and then to Gairloch where we stayed a night. It was after this that I began to see the wildlife of the area. I saw lots of Great Northern Divers quite close to the shore. We often get them along the coast in Moray, but very rarely this close to the shore although a few years ago I remember seeing one in Burghead harbour.
We headed up the west coast from Gairloch to Drumbeg. On the way, I saw my first otter close up to the road eating a fish and also some Black-throated Divers. Looking down from the cliffs I could see some seals basking at the water’s edge below. There were also some shovellers in one loch as we went past. Drumbeg was a lovely secluded part off the route and we spent a couple of nights here. I saw more Great Northern and Black-throated Divers in the area as well as Sandpipers and Ringed Plovers. I also saw my first White Wagtail.
Needless to say the scenery on the whole trip was spectacular and as the weather was good I wondered why we had never done this before. We had been to certain parts on the west coast throughout the years but never done the whole route.
Finally, we left Drumbeg and went to my daughter’s house in Thurso via Durness and Tongue. She took me to the lovely Bird Hide at St John’s Pool where I saw Sandwich Terns, Black-headed Gulls, Black-tailed Godwits, Shovellers, Teal, Moorhens and Common Gulls. The Gulls spent most of the time mating. There were only a few Sandwich Terns, less than usual apparently and it was possible that the Black-headed Gulls were keeping them away. There were lots of Tufted Ducks there also and it was lovely to get some photos of them out of the water as they are usually always in the water.
My only regret was that we never saw any Golden Eagles or White-tailed Eagles but who knows they seem to be heading eastwards all the time and one has been seen at the mouth of the River Spey.