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.
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.
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.
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.
We are now well into the season with half term and weekend escapes.
We have to keep reminding ourselves that we are already half way through February and the days are creeping out. It almost seems that every day I am having to push the clocks back that operate our lights outside so that we are not lighting an already day light carpark and clearly we are not wasting electricity, but the other side of Spring sees us cutting the grass for the first time and providing it remains warm and dry no doubt the weekly chores on the golf course will start to run.
The good news however last week with our wet Thursday was that we saw the backs- or should I say underside- of our golf course visitors- 200 geese can certainly make an impression and whilst they fertilised the fairways and ate the rough back they obeyed the signs and stayed off the greens --in the most part! So the rain washed most of it on and now with a bit or warmth it will become bright vibrant grass!
So what have we got ahead for the weather this week-
Today: After a cloudy start it should start brightening up through noon and into the afternoon.
Monday: A little drizzle across high hills to start the day otherwise dry and mostly cloudy. A few cloud breaks possible later in the day
Tuesday: A dry day everywhere with most places starting cloudy. Brightening up through the morning with some sunshine for the afternoon
Wednesday: A mainly dry and settled period with bright and sunny spells. Frost and fog expected after dark which could be slow to lift and clear. Winds will be mostly light.
Thursday: Conditions are expected to be cold, mostly dry but rather cloudy and breezy, with the best of any brighter weather across inland areas.
Friday:The cloud at dawn will be thick enough at times to produce some wintry showers at day break, with some thicker cloud also spreading into the southwest at times giving some outbreaks of rain and hill snow.
Saturday: Slightly warmer than Friday with a breeze lifting the temperatures on shore but still a threat of rain in the afternoon.
As predicted another week of variable weather has brought some turmoil to the transport system but given that a couple of millimeters of snow in the midlands brought it to its knees we must bear a thought for the North Eastern seaboard of America which seems to have come across the "perfect storm" with winds and weather fronts from the North colliding with those form the south creating spectacular weather fronts dumping snow and plunging temperatures.
then think about us moaning at a bit of rain or temperatures moving towards freezing! Maybe the weather in the k is not quite as bad as we all think. Anyway it was as predicted last week another dry and sunny week at Eriska and therefore maybe we should plan indoor work more often so that our visitors can enjoy the balmy weather outside as we paint inside!
Anyway with the days starting to get longer and valentines day upon us we are almost approaching spring , the snow drops outside under the chestnut trees are in full bloom and we even have some daffodils starting to bud. lets hope the warm days and sunshine are not far away, although as I look out of my office this morning towards Glensanda I can see that the snow line is coiming down the hillside.
So will the storm from America reach us or can we continue to prepare for Summer?
Today: After such a still but misty day yesterday today will be dull, with rain and hill snow on higher ground.
Monday: Mostly cloudy with outbreaks of rain, most persistent to south with snow on hills, perhaps some significant new snowfalls across higher hills
Tuesday: Rain and snow becoming patchy , but feeling cold with fresh easterly winds.
Wednesday: Patchy rain, sleet and hill snow will gradually become confined to more northern parts but winds easing with some icy stretches developing.
Thursday: Mainly dry and bright with only a few wintry showers, these mostly light and generally very high mountains. A few sunny spells but cold.
Friday: Mainly dry and bright start but becoming wet and windy later in the day
Saturday: Rain preceded by hill snow and strong southeasterly winds but then returning to showery and rather breezy conditions.