Monday, 1 June 2015

What a week in pastures new- the Speyside area.

 Mr stress heads holiday didn't really get started until a visit to Chanonry point on the black isle after doing the Loch Ness tourist thing on the Monday.. What a 2 hour visit watching the dolphins so close in hunting and playing with Salmon before downing them. Picked up 2 young and another older juv. getting in on the action with this idea what size this pod is...? maybe 15-20.

 Tuesday - added to and maybe surpassed the day before ...(I cannot decide). First train up the Gorm. (10am) we were on it. Hot chocolate and cake from the cafe whilst scanning from windows- Ptarmigans (3), Ring ouzels (4) and Mountain hares( 3/4) all picked up. We sat back and enjoyed the wildlife in comfort from here for a couple of hours before the masses arrived.

And Loch Eilean in the afternoon, was our first and only sighting of Crested tit, 2 birds called and one showed nicely just above head level on the clockwise 'blue' path by the small stream bridge about half a mile from the carpark. By what we heard over the week a canny few other folk were struggling also to get onto these belters.

We booked on the Speyside wildlife site for the Badger and Pine marten experience after getting sorted with the cottage just a few months back, what a treat this was...! 3 Badgers showed on the other side of  glass enclosure just inches away at times,male Pine marten showed nicely before doing off with the egg, the female sat for 20 minutes or so the night before...just wor luck.:-)
Just a unusual sight I thought- Common tern on the hunt up a small stream just off the Findhorn river.
 Flying over the dolphins- Long-tailed duck, tatty but nice.
Three of these spectacular prime specimens seen on the roadside in the Findhorn valley area a couple of times....The weather wasn't kind to us each time we visited here.
We picked up 4/5 Ospreys all a little distant unfortunately but great to see all the same. On one of our visits to Loch Ruthven we picked up these 2 in the air together. We visited another site where a nest can be viewed from a public walkway at a fairly close distance and sat for over 2 hours...No show, but a few locals kept us entertained especially a family of Treecreepers here.

5 Black-throated divers seen over the week, this one is from Loch Ruthven. Another pair at a loch not that far from Ruthven and the other pair across the A9 on a different loch.
Best count we had of Slavonian grebes was 3 pairs on loch Ruthven and it took a few visits before the grebes were encountered this close to the hide here.

Got a surprise one evening when a pair of Mandarins dropped onto the cottage bird table briefly , they came back the next day also. When I mentioned this to the owner he informed me they are fairly regular visitors and have breed in the area. He also told me about a drake Pintail that used to visit regular also...!
We also managed 3 Ravens (all in the cottage area), 3 Hooded crows (I was surprised not to see more) from the cottage flying thro-, Probably about 15  Red Kites, One female Hen harrier whilst driving along a busy road and I couldn't stop!, 2 Crossbills at Loch Eilean landed briefly before doing off, along with all the usual type suspects expected.

What a cracking week we had for our first visit to this area, we stayed in a Cottage at Farr just about 10 minutes from Loch Ruthven so obviously this became a regular site just to drop into and enjoy.

Many thanks again to the folk who helped me out on this visit with their great advice.