Saturday, June 06, 2009

Highlands of Scotland Holiday - day 2

Sunday morning dawned early and again the sky was clear and the forecast was for a stunning day. We decided to work around the Aviemore area for the day, starting at RSPB Insh Marshes. We had breakfast at the hotel first before setting off, arriving at the reserve around 08:30, the first visitors of the day. A short walk down the hide which provides panoramic views of the reserve:














In the middle distance a ruin of some sort:














Whilst we could hear a lot of birds and see the odd heron, etc., not much else was visible from the main hide so we headed to second hide, back via the car park and then down a series of steps. On the way Garden Warblers were singing, a beautiful song for quite a dull coloured bird:

















In addition a number of Willow Warblers were singing their descending song and feeding amongst the trees:




















Down at the second hide we watched a Curlew fly and land very close in front of us:




















A small group of Roe Deer wandered out onto the marshes before settling down:










Our next stop of the morning was at Inshriach Forest for a woodland walk. It is billed as the area's best kept secret but whilst stunning:














it proved to be very quiet in terms of birds. Next-up we headed to 'The Potting Shed' (http://www.drakesalpines.com/pottingshed.php) a famous cake shop. Helen had the Gooseberry and Rhubarb cake whilst I tried the Summer Fruits, both were delicious. We enjoyed watching the Chaffinches, Siskin and Coal Tits feeding behind the shed, which doubles as a hide. The real problem was choosing which cake to try, we didn't get a chance to try either the peanut or chocolate cakes which also looked awesome, maybe next time :)

From the cake shop we headed to the RSPB Osprey Centre at Loch Garten. First up a dragonfly resting on a reed at the conveniently located pond, as usual I have no idea what species this is:














We headed into the viewing area hoping to see the Osprey but the nest is really quite distant. There's a second hide which is staff only, apparently they could see a Capercaillie from there but it wasn't visible from the public hide. In addition there was a nesting pair of Redstart but only the female showed and she was partially obscured. We decided we'd probably get to see more by walking one of the many trails around the reserve and set-off. A pair of Common Sandpipers were making a racket, disturbed by the group of people sunbathing and dipping in the Loch waters:

















We saw a number of ducks including Shoveller, Mallard and a Goldeneye with youngsters, but mostly distant, again flushed away by the humans. The views across the Loch though were beautiful:














In one clearing we watched a couple of Spotted Flycatchers taking prey - they watched from a favourite perch then flew to their target, performing some serious acrobatics in the capture, then returned to watch again:















From Loch Garten we headed to our last stop for the day at Broomhill Bridge near Nethy Bridge hoping for good views of Dipper. We weren't disappointed:



















We thoroughly enjoyed our first day proper in the Cairngorms however the weather forecast was for cloud and showers on the Monday so, whilst we really wanted to climb one of the mountains, we decided instead for a crack of dawn start and a 3-hour drive to Handa, an Island off the upper Northwest coast of Scotland, which had a much better forecast for the day.

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