Otter sightings on Eriska are not unheard of and in fact some of our guests are attracted by the thrill of the search. These sensitive and playful mammals hold an irresistible charm over our guests enjoying a relaxing walk along the island’s edge, which has made them a favourite over the years.
Eriska’s coastal environment is ideally suited to their habitation.
Our natural habitat remains untouched by urban development, water pollution or the use of pesticides. Our island location is remote from main roadways, which is one of the greatest threats to their numbers as roadkill deaths are one of their biggest threats. Our coastal and land environments offers food on tap: fish, shellfish, but also birds, small mammals, etc.
However all is now solved with the latest addition the the Eriska family. A year ago we were approached by one of our guests with aproposal to add an Otter sculpture to the beach at Eriska. Whilst at the outset this sounded a rather daft idea it was also the sort of concept which begins to attract support and is one which soon had enough traction to move from dream to reality.
So over the last year Kenneth Robertson has been working on a piece for us - not only was the actual otter sculpture important but insuring it fitted in to the environment and more importantly onto a rock at Otter Point was essential. Several visits later and much hard work from Keneth and his son have now seen the installation on the shore.
I am sure like us vsiitors will be pleased with it and will come to admire and enjoy our new constant and guaranteed resident. he now has three roles, to guard teh entrance to loch creran, to encourgae otters to teh shores and to offer a sighting spot for visitors. Howeer should this still one be to easy to spot here are some handy hints to have the best chance of spotting our eluisove creatures:
•Look for their ideal location: clean water, vegetated banks, and available prey.
•Look out for their distinctive webbed toe prints, or droppings (that may contain fish bones and scales)
•Dawn explorers will have the best chance of spotting them.
•Be still and patient, or walk quietly; keeping upwind.
Take care to avoid disturbing them or their habitat. With no guarantees of a sighting, our island setting itself is worth exploring and enjoying.
This week we’ve been pleasantly surprised by a fair bit of sunshine, giving us all a break from the downpours that swept in last week and that is expected to continue over the next few days.
As always, our guests have taken full advantage of the weather conditions to make the most of their time with us. Our 9-hole golf course, in particular, has been busy this week with some of the larger parties organising friendly tournaments amongst themselves.
Though with May just around the corner, and the temperature struggling to break the barrier into double digits, we’re left to wonder if we’ll ever get a chance to put away our winter wardrobe and break out the summer t-shirts and sunglasses.
Let’s hope we have a warmer week ahead.
Sunday: Starting off with a cloudy morning and some light showers, rain will persist in the afternoon getting heavier as the day goes on.
Monday: Following a night of rain, expect more showers throughout the day
Tuesday: The day will be mostly dry and cloudy, with some light showers briefly passing early afternoon.
Wednesday: Following a dry night, expect to see a mixture of light and heavy showers all morning, with the weather drying up in the evening
Thursday: Expect a cold and wet day, with heavy rain dominating throughout the afternoon and evening.
Friday: Another day of heavy rain expected with moderate wind blowing in from the south-east, though temperatures are expected to climb to a weekly high.
Saturday: With some light rain showers throughout the morning and afternoon, the day is expected to dry up with a slightly chilly evening.
When you live somewhere it is often easy to forget how lucky we are with an endless plyground of activities and facilities to use.
But when a guest asks us for suggestions of how to amuse themseves we are never short of ideas.
Eriska caters for a wide range of activities offering complete relaxation to the most fast paced sporting activity to lure a wide-ranging audience. Here’s a quick guide to some of our top attractions:
Our 9-hole golf course is a top sporting island attraction regularly drawing in enthusiasts from all over the UK but with stunning views and challenging holes a few lost balls and wayward shots will not ruin your day!
Invigorate, energise, or relax at our ESPA spa facility that provides a full range of top-to-toe beauty therapies, ideal for those wishing to escape the realities of real life for a few days and be pampered by our trained professionals.
Our 17 metre indoor swimming pool is perfect for those seeking some holiday fun. Wither you’re a more serious swimmer, or just want to splash around with the family our pool is large enough to accommodate all
4. Sport Hall
Our sports hall houses a range of equipment to cater for a variety of indoor activities. With badminton, tennis, indoor bowls, table tennis, a putting green and five aside football, guests have the opportunity to fine tune their skill with some friendly competition.
5. Clay Pigeon Shooting
For those looking for something a little bit different, we offer the thrilling heart-pounding experience of clay pigeon shooting for those visitors with a keen eye and quick reactions from our expert tutor.
Unlike the cities and towns of Scotland, Eriska is a perfect location to enjoy the local night skies. There’s minimal light pollution and good sightlines to enjoy a clear view of the stars, planets and the occasional satellite casually passing by. On a really clear night you really do see it all
7. Nature trails
Eriska offers walkers and the photographers among us the perfect setting to explore and enjoy the local scenery and wildlife. Alternatively, for those wanting to burn off some energy through our island woodlands or venture further afield we have bicycles ready to hire
With over 100 different species of birds on the island, the early birds among our guests will be kept occupied looking out for some of our favourites at their most active and vocal.
9. Boat Trips
Absorb a spectacular seaview tour of our West Coast island and local marine wildlife and all departing from our own pier!
Eriska and the surrounding Argyll coastline is the perfect location for some of the best secluded shore and sea fishing opportunities in Scotland.
The weather this week has been horrendous!
Or so one of our guests told us, in reality it has been no different than we would have expected at this time of year but given the wonderful dry spring - 5 week of no rain -we have enjoyed the last week may seem like a dramatic climate change.
With heavy rain and high winds, our guests have spent most of their time indoors - though with no lack of activities to keep them occupied. Having taken full advantage of our indoor leisure facilities, the spa has been fully booked all week and the indoor sports hall has been occupied with groups flooding in to play tennis, badminton, football or enjoy a round of indoor putting.
However, things did clear up by the end of the week, and we even managed to get an entire day of sunshine, allowing day trips through Oban, or across to some of the larger islands by ferry. having seen the change in weather coming we thought a film crew who were staying with us would have been pleased but regrettably having shot two days in dull wet conditions sunshine and clear skies for a day did nothing to help their continuity so not everyone welcomed the last day of improved conditions!
Though summer is just around the corner, it doesnt look like there'll be much need for sun lotion this week to come.
Sunday- Cloud and rain through the morning with lighter showers and sunnier spells through the afternoon.
Monday- Cloud and rain, becoming heavier throughout the day. Mild temperatures.
Tuesday - Cloudy but dry throughout the day with rain in the evening.
Wednesday- Heavy rain throughout the day with temperatures peaking at 9 degrees, becoming dry late evening.
Thursday- A day of sunshine and showers becoming dry late in the evening.
Friday- After a dry start the clouds will start to push in for the weekend and bring the threat of rain.
Saturday-A wet night will see damp dawn but the good news is that sunshine is round the corner and the remainder of the weekend should be brighter and warmer
One of the many advantages of being located at the west coast of Scotland is the surrounding of such a diverse wildlife.
With over 100 different species of birds on and around the Island, guests can witness a variety of different melodies and harmonies created by our feathery friends, as well as a whole spectrum of colours.
Whether you’re a seasoned bird watcher or just out enjoying the sights, we recommend you keep a look out for the Eriska Top 10.
1. White-Tailed Sea Eagle
With a wing span as large as 8ft, the sea eagle is the largest bird of prey in the UK. Having only been reintroduced to the UK in the 70s, after becoming extinct in the early 20th century, it is one of the rarest sights not only on the island, but in the entire of Scotland. The feather on its tail lighten with age, becoming white as it reaches adulthood – hence it’s name
Similar to storks and cranes, heron’s have long legs and sinuous necks that are usually found outstretched while looking for food. Though these birds are non swimming they are often found in water, due to their varied aquatic diet, using their dagger-shaped bill to spear any prey that comes in range.
With a distinctive shrill call and long, slender, down curved bill the Curlew is easily recognisable to any who cross its path. It feeds near mud or soft ground, like sand, using it’s unique bill to burrow into the ground in search for worms and other invertebrates.
4. BuzzardThe common buzzard can be found on the fringe of most wooded areas of Britain, though generally prefers to hunt over large open ground. This impressive bird of prey has large rounded wings and a short neck and tail, though they can vary in colour from much darker browns to paler alternatives. Its ‘meowing’ call can often lead to it being mistaken for a cat.
5. Hen Harrier
After heavy persecution in the UK, mainly in grouse shooting estates, the hen harrier is now considered much more of a rarity. As another one of Britain’s birds of prey, they hunt over open ground and are considered to do so loudly. They are the only hawk like bird to practice polygamy, with males mating with several females at a time.
In European folklore, the goldcrest is considered “King of the Birds” due to the golden orange/yellow crest on the top of its head, which also gives rise to it’s name. It is the smallest bird in the UK, being no more than 9.5cm in length, and commonly inhabits pine trees, using it’s small thin beak to pick at insects between pine needles.
7. Canadian Goose
Any golfer walking the course at the mement will either curse thse birds for leaving their mark on the fairways or bless them for keeping the grass so green and healthy. They are a large goose, with a distinctive black head and neck and large white throat patch. An introduced species from N America, it has successfully spread to cover most of the UK. It forms noisy flocks and is often regarded as a nuisance in areas where large numbers occur on amenity grassland and parks
8. Ringed Plover
The ringed plover is a small, dumpy, short-legged wading bird. It is brownish grey above and whitish below. It has a orange bill, tipped with black, orange legs and a black-and-white pattern on its head and breast. In flight it shows a broad white wing-stripe.Breeds on beaches around the coast, but has also now breeding inland in sand and gravel pits and former industrial sites. Many UK birds live here al
l year round, but birds from Europe winter in Britain and birds from Greenland and Canada pass through on migration.
Gaining it’s name from it’s distinctively bright red legs, redshank’s are often found residing along the coast, hunting for insects and crustaceans by sticking it’s bill into soft soil or mud. Their loud piping call alerts all in its surroundings.
10. Tawny Owl
These invisible wee friends insist on keeping guests up at night with their call. Being no larger than an average pigeon, it hunts small rodents. Commonly found in woodlands, this nocturnal bird feeds on hotel insects during the night and often nests inside tree holes where it can protect it’s eggs against potential predators.
So it seems our luck have finally dried up or not as it seems!.
All week long, we’ve experienced very light showers throughout the day putting an end to five weeks of dry and sunny weather, and though we complain these April showers are finally allowing the island flora to be able to rehydrate and grow into a healthy green in time for summer.
Thoughpwe’d need more than a little fall of rain to stop our guests from going out and enjoying the island, plenty of our visitors have still taken up the opportunity to enjoy the nature walks around the hotel and do a bit of bird watching, and those who’d rather stay inside have been able to enjoy spa treatment and use of our indoor pool and sport hall. In truth the start of Spring is really evident outside the house with trees starting to bud, birds breaking out into song and grass and weeds starting to flourish in all directions making the estate team busy!
But it’s not over yet, we have another week of rain ahead, so make sure to look out your umbrellas and wellies!
Today : After a threatening night with cloudy skies we awaken to rain, some heavy, gradually turning showery, brighter and warmer through the afternoon.
Monday: A wet start, with persistent and heavy rain but the rain easing and turning brighter especially in the south. Showers returning, prolonged with strong to gale force southerly winds.
Tuesday: Further showers will be most frequent inland and on higher ground, more scattered elsewhere. South to southwesterly gales becoming severe over the Isles.
Tuesday: Showers will become lighter through the day with most areas dry in the afternoon. Strong southwesterly winds easing.
Wednesday: After the last few days of rain today is starting bright then more rain spreading from south. Rain turning showery but colder.
Thursday: The weather looks to remain changeable but cooler than earlier in the week and very showery.
Friday: The new weather front will eventually push in bringing drier conditions however this far out it is uncertain whether it will be before or during the weekend.
Saturday: The new front will bring in more summer temperatures and little in the way of cold conditions so it will definitely be gardening time!
West coast phenomenom are not few nor far between so each I am never surprised with what I discover- it's one of the charms of living on Eriska!
As I walked home the other night I noticed two figures on the ground by the hotel- two guests lying on their back gazing up at the dark skies above. Initially I thought something tragic had happened and then I noticed they were looking at an ipad screen and enjoying the view . After a brief discussion I found out that they were lying looking at the dark skies- a natural occurance with little or no light source close by casuing pollution and working out the sights and shapes with the help of a trusty app!
Unlike the big cities (i.e Glasgow, Manchester and London) where you’d be lucky to see more than just Orion’s belt on a good night, Argyll has very little light pollution so on a clear night you really do see it all: stars, planets and the occasional satellite casually moving in-between.
As well as all the usual constellations that can generally be seen from anywhere in the northern hemisphere, like Ursa Major (which is partly made up of the “Big Dipper” or “Plough”), Ursa Minor, Cassiopeia and Draco; those out stargazing locally get to enjoy some truly phenomenal sights without having to use a telescope.
Being consumed by complete darkness at night allows a great view of small clusters of new born stars resulting from a supernova; the edge of the Milky Way and an a whole other galaxy in the Andromeda cluster. Even without a powerful telescope it is possible to make out shapes and details if the skies are clear although the use of any form of magnification is always
going to help the star gazers. In addition you can also enquire in the office and there is always a helpful guide on hand to assist or at least point you in the right direction or ipad address!
So before the nights get too short and the days too long it is worth getting out of cities to see the real dark skies
Well it’s official: Spring is here.
With daffodils shooting up light rockets all over the island and another week of dry and sunny weather, our guests this week have really been able to make the most of their stay with us: enjoying our variety of nature walks; sitting outside in the sunshine with a cool glass of lemonade and some of our younger residents even went on an outdoor Easter egg hunt, around the gardens, earlier in the week.
Though the mornings are still a little too frosty, the days are getting warmer and warmer, with temperatures having gone into double digits most days, leaving some of our unprepared visitors with a little bit of sunburn.
Let’s hope that our luck with the weather persists another week and we can avoid the dreaded April showers
Today: Expect a cloudy day, with some sunny intervals later in the afternoon.
Monday: After a dry night, we’ll be greeted with lots of sunshine, with some white clouds.
Tuesday: Another cloudy day with sunny intervals and slightly stronger winds blowing in from the east.
Wednesday: Following a calm and cloudy night, expect a cloudy day with some sun in the morning.
Thursday: Expect to see the first signs of dark grey clouds and some light showers ln the afternoon.
Friday: More dark clouds and light rain showers expected to fill the sky throughout the day
Saturday: Another day of April Showers, though with temperatures expecting to be higher than earlier in the week
Spring and a middle-aged man’s thoughts…
Each year I look up the method by which the date of Easter is derived but, try as I might, I can never commit it to memory. It does feel like Easter is early this year however. We have passed the equinox (equal periods of night and day) and longer days are coming our way. The clocks have sprung forward, so it is fair to say that spring is with us.
Spring, the season when a middle-aged man’s thoughts turn to hillwalking.
Hillwalking options in Scotland are legend. In a nutshell Scotland has 284 mountains over 3,000ft above sea level. This dwarfs the four in England, eight in Wales and seven in Eire. At this stage it is worth pointing out that the measurement and classification of mountains is an activity that is fraught and there are various (generally quite tedious in my view) disagreements regarding definitions. Using any definition of what constitutes a mountain Scotland has many more.
There are some alluring aspects to the Scottish hills. The most important is that they are invariably set in scenic locations. Their remote nature restricts the numbers of visitors, so they are a great place to enjoy a little solitude. Most of the summits can be reached on foot without any technical climbing, and virtually all of them can be undertaken as one-day trips. Many of the hills are relatively family friendly and the summits are accessible for both the young and the old. Caution is required however, as the weather can change rapidly in the hills making the environment hostile.
Many readers will have already hiked in the Scottish mountains and know a fair amount about their history and location, and therefore might like to skip the forthcoming passage. The Scottish mountains that are over 3,000ft (913m) and are known as ‘Munros’. Sir Hugh Munro was the author of the first table of Scottish mountains back in 1891. There is a distinction between ‘Munros’, which are the separate mountains, and ‘tops’ which are all of the pronounced points or peaks that exceed 3,000ft.
What constitutes a separate mountain has been the subject of many heated discussions.
There is no definitive set of criteria and such distinction as does exist is based on the drop in height, the distance between adjacent summits, their character, the nature of the intervening ground and the time taken to travel from one to another.
Walkers who are in the process of ticking off, or bagging each peak are often called ‘tickers’ or ‘baggers’, whilst those that have achieved the feat are called ‘completers’. Munro managed to climb most but not all of the peaks. It is widely held that the first person to complete the list was the Reverend A.E. Robertson, however some interesting detective work from my former University colleague Dr Robin Campbell has cast doubt on this fact. Therefore Ronald Burn might be the first person to have completed the Munro list.
This Easter we experienced a fantastic spell of weather that was ideal for Scottish hill walking. A high pressure system seemed to have parked itself over Scotland. We managed to get to the summit of several Munros that we had not visited previously. Despite there being some very cold easterly winds, the skies were blue and we could see for miles. On the way home from this trip we dropped in to visit our family on the Isle of Eriska.
Eriska is a fantastic base from which to undertake some hillwalking day trips. Beinn Sgulaird is a short drive from the hotel. One guide book describes this as ‘an easy traverse for a lazy afternoon with fine coastal views of Benderloch and Appin’. The views are indeed spectacular but the ease of this trip will depend on your fitness, it is about 4 miles and 3050ft of assent. The four Munros that tower above Loch Awe (Ben Cruachan, Stob Diamh, Beinn a’ Chochuill and Beinn Eunaich) also make for easy day trips from the hotel. Slightly longer drives clockwise to Glen Coe, or anti-clockwise to Tyndrum open up a wealth of other options for bagging Munros.
There are a number of quaint Munro related records. These include the fasted completion, completing the list multiple times and the first completion in a single winter. A while ago I was told that most people finish their Munro list on Ben More on Mull which is also easily accessible from the hotel. I wonder who will be the first completer to celebrate at Eriska?
Vernon Gayle EON ( Eriska's Official kNowledge)
It's no April fool there is really a whale in the Bay!
This was a common phrase in Argyll over the easter weekend. and to date our underwater visitor remains in the bay, he is however not always easy to spot! Indeed two of our guests on Sunday set off for Oban Airport and a planned trip in the skies. A clever entrepreneur not only decided to base himself over Easter Weekend at the airport and take visitors up in his plane to see Argyll but more importantly chose a stunning weekend- one in a million bank holiday weekends seem dry and sunny- and consequently some great shots of the area were possible.
However despite flying down towards Islay, out to Mull and Duart and then on up the greta glen to see Castle Stalker and the Coran narrows they returned in time for Afternoon tea to show off their shots. As we looked through the array of shots which really not only showed off the area but also the scale of Argyll we asked in an innocent manner if they had seen the Whale in Oban Bay. Despite a quick precursory look at the Oban views no whale seemed present so the immediatley got back in their car and set off for Oban in search of the Whale.
No sooner had they departed than it seemed they were back and pleased as punch to have been able to capture the images the trip in the plane had failed to offer.
Indeed whilst they were simply not unique shots they will probably never again see either a whale in oban Bay or Oban basking in Easter sunshine as we have this last week!
All in all it has been a great spell of weather but given the lack of foiliage on the trees and bushes it has also been a really interesting few weeks of wildlife spotting. Firstly the badgers have woken from their winter sleep and are now back- the clock change on Sunday did not seem to concern them- on their summer schedule with visits every evening, the otter has been spotted by the 5th Green on the golf course, the Sea Eagles are circling the driving range and the golf course remains inundated with geese - who clearly are enjoying the sunbathing before their long flight north and who could blame them - seem a constant target.
So in addition to these foreign and unusual visitors the island is really starting to wake up with bird song each morning alerting us to spring. The binocular collection has never been busier and whilst it can be cold sitting birding the views and sitings have been worth the wait and certainly reinforced what a wildlife treasure trove Eriska really is.