After an uneventful drive up to Oban, stopping in the Lakes and then at Loch Lomond for a bite to eat, we settled in to the B&B and took a stroll down to the sea front. Since we were last there, a new pub has opened near the ferry terminal, and proved to be a good place to chill out, absorb the atmosphere, some Doom Bar (travelled further north than us) and have a cheap meal.
An early night, short pitstop to Tescos and I found myself stifling giggles at the ferry terminal ticket office when a chap next to me said he fancied going to Oban for the day, only to be quizzically informed that he was actually in Oban. He meant Craignure!
The crossing was calm but the breeze was a bit chilly to be stood outside, so I watched the seas from the viewing lounge area, spotting a small flock of shearwaters at one point, and quite a few guillemots too.
On to the Isle once more, and I couldn't help but smile. I love the place, and headed straight to Kellan Wood to get my first fix of eagle action. As usual, didn't have to wait long to spot one of the adults sat in the trees, which got the ball rolling for the trip, Then it was time to try to soak up the place, scan Loch Na Keal for anything interesting, and return to childhood by poking around under rocks on the shore for crabs.
I didn't actually take any pics at Kellan - I have many already but I thought it would be wise to dig out the camera from under all the shopping bags, just in case. And this proved wise, when after heading elsewhere, I spotted a golden eagle sat on a hillside. Distant, but it took off and gave super views as it scanned the slopes for a meal.
I headed out after dropping Dad off at the cottage and emptying the car, for a last look around the loch before the sun set, seeing plenty of stonechats along the way, and a rather vocal buzzard.
There were still plenty of buzzards around though, some flying off instantly, others content to sit and allow pics to be taken. And there seemed to be stonechats everywhere. If there was a clump of ferns, there was a stonechat sat on it.
With both eagles present, you actually needed two pairs of eyes to watch each, but I picked up on the signs that one was going for the fish and thankfully the 100-400 & 7D combo locked on in time.
Back on the cliffs, the eagles briefly sat beside each other, and made for a rather lovely sight.
During the first week, as we were watching the sun go down over the loch and hills beyond, I spotted an otter fishing near the shore. I went to the fence to watch a bit more closely, as did one of the guests of the hotel. Soon we were joined by the couple who share our love of the Isle and are usually around for one of our weeks, and we watched the otter diving and surfacing for a good half an hour. It was almost completely dark when we lost sight of it, but with the calmness and quiet of the evening, we could hear it crunching through the food it had caught, and exhaling as it surfaced.
One morning, as usual I was walking to my car from the cottage, and spotted something in the water near the shore of the loch. Another otter, and this time the light was there for photos, just about. I opted to track it along the side of the loch, playing statues when it surfaced and moving when it dived. I also stayed down wind from it and was eventually rewarded when it came ashore.
Then it reappeared. Less than 20 feet from me, on the road. I stood frozen. It looked at me, then took a few steps forwards, stopped and looked at me again. I only moved my eyes to watch it. Then it just casually strolled across the road and off into the woods behind, leaving me with a huge smile.
And last, but not least, on the drive back from the pub in Craignure one evening, as we headed through the glen, with it getting pretty dark from the shade from Ben More, Dad quipped about us possibly seeing the hen harrier we had seen occasionally in the area before. Then we saw them. Sat on posts next to one another, beside the road were a ringtail hen harrier and a short-eared owl!