Saturday, May 19, 2012

Highlands in Spring? - Part One

This is a summary of a week based in Strathspey with a group of A Rocha supporters. We met in Kincraig at 4.00pm on the Sunday reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones. Even on this the first evening, I had arranged a visit to the local badger hide where we met our guide. He did allow me to take folks on the next two nights. Despite the strong breeze and monsoon-like downpour we did see three badgers and a pine marten. Those who could not make that trip had been to view the osprey on Loch Insh and had seen three otters

Monday May 14. Some folk took an early stroll to the Loch to view the osprey again and managed to see goldeneye and common sandpiper. Our walk after breakfast was in the area of Uath Lochans
Scores of siskins, accompanied by willow warblers, coal tits and chaffinches welcomed us to the woods, while at our feet wood sorrel, wood anemone and common dog violet reminded us that spring comes a little later here, than where most of us live. Walking the white trail took the rest of the morning and just at the end of lunch one of our party came rushing over to point out crested tit. Changing from the white to red trail enabled us to gain some height. This gave us a panoramic view of the area in which we were staying. We did take extra care with our feet since we had already seen a dore beetle and a lovely frog
The final stretch took in the smaller lochans where a pair of goldeneyes were swimming together. We had heard the call of a raptor but were unable to see it. What we did see was a gorgeous beetle. We found out later that it was a green tiger beetle

 The evening was taken up again with badger viewing and searching for bats. Other night sounds that were heard were some snipe drumming and a woodcock roding round his territory
Tuesday May 15 A windy day to start as we set off to search for eagles up the Findhorn valley. There were already some birders there as we arrived, one of whom was Alan Davies of "The Biggest Twitch" fame. He had already seen two sorts of eagle, but that was not to be for us. We did see Feral goats and red deer as well as common sandpiper and the ubiquitous oystercatcher. Loch Ruthven was not too far away so that was the next stage of our journey for today. Some of our party saw a tufted duck on a nearby pool as well as sand martin. At the Loch itself a semi-blizzard caused us to have lunch in the warmth of our vehicles. It did clear and we saw those lovely jewels that are Slavonian grebes
Our final destination of the day was Chanonry Point. The weather had changed for the better as we arrived. We had planned for a rising tide and our planning worked. We had fantastic views of dolphins very close to the beach. As we were leaving some dunlins, turnstones and ringed plovers scurried on the edge of the shore and a red kite glided over our heads

Our final visit to the badgers was made more thrilling as we heard another drumming snipe and a barking fox

Total now at 430

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