Wildlife & Outdoors
Flora & Fauna
Spring is my favourite time of year on the Isle of Skye and Waternish in particular. We have come out of winter which, lets face it, can be a bit bleak at times. Then the snowdrops flower followed closely by the daffodils. Shortly after this, more yellow is spotted on south facing banks, particularly at the side of the road – the primroses make an appearance and seem to go on for many weeks. Broom and Gorse bushes give us more yellow to behold, the gorse in particular going on for months. We have some variety when the bluebells make an appearance and in the grass, the pink of the common orchid – so delicate.
Late summer is also a colourful time. In August the hills are a blanket of purple of the heather, which as the weeks go by changes to the autumn hues.
Spring is also an exciting time in the skies with various species performing their mating rituals in the sky or calling out for a mate. The RSPB are involved in a scheme to increase the population of the Corncrake here on Waternish. Part of this scheme is that landowners agree not to cut their grass lands until later in the year to protect the habitat for the elusive Corncrake. Sighting one is pretty rare, but if you are out at dusk you might here one croaking for a mate, some times even behind the Inn if we are lucky.
Another success story for the RSPB is the re-introduction of the Sea Eagle which can be seen around Skye. Keep your eyes open wherever you go, looking high up in the sky to behold these majestic white tailed birds. If they do not have the white tails but are still large birds, then it might be a golden eagle. If they are not quite so large then it might be a buzzard, especially if it is posing on a post. Between them all hopefully they will keep the exploding rabbit population down that seems to be only too happy to destroy my garden!
Being a crofting community Waternish has cattle, including some highlanders, and several breeds of sheep sheep. Of course the spring is a lovely time to see lambs frolicking around the hills. But please watch out for them on the side of the road.
Night time though can be a noisy time with the foxes and dear barking!
The waters beyond Waternish, in particular the Minch, are part of the playground for larger mammals, including Orca whales, heading up to or from the Arctic. There are often porpoises and dolphins which might even come into Lochbay causing quite a stir for those of us lucky enough to spot them. Closer to the land you might see seals and if you are really lucky, an otter.
Walking the hills and the cliff tops is a must on skye. Maybe use the expertise of Skye Guides or Skye Ghillie. Or go off yourself using the excellent walking guides on Walk Highlands which can be downloaded form their website or indeed the numerous walking books available, some of which we are more than happy to lend to you.
Needless to say being an island there is plenty of activity on the water. There are excellent boat trips for Stein (Divers Eye), Portree and Elgol (Misty Isle boat trips and Bella Jane boat trips) which are all breath taking and you will not be disappointed. Or go sailing at Skye Yachts.
Skye Ghillie is also an excellent resource to find river fishing on the island. The River Snizort is a salmon and trout river which is maintained and run by Skye Salmon