Who needs birds?!

The dinning at the hotel went a bit wrong last night and took forever! In my endeavour not to eat too much processed sugar I ended the meal with cheese and biscuits. The alarm was set for 5.30am and a I was so tired I ended us going to sleep about half an hour after finishing eating. Now I have often heard that cheese causes nightmares and I don’t know if it is true or not but I had what I think was the worst one ever in the early hours. It woke me up and I decided to get up which meant we were at our destination, Dell woods, birding before the alarm went off!

The hunt for Capercaillies was on but they didn’t seem to know that as there was no sign. We were disappointed but not surprised. On the way back we saw a few deer including this fella.

We were out for nearly three hours then back for breakfast. Later we decided to try the same walk in Abernethy wood as although Crested tits are not showing well it seems the best chance to get an improved view on yesterdays. Again a lovely walk and again no luck with birds. We did meet a sweet family group picnicking by the loch and they took our photo. We have more photos together this year than in the past twenty years I reckon!

We thought these few days in Speyside would be the most productive, this has not been so but we have still enjoyed the surroundings. We went out again later to a new place and what a smashing time we had. On the way we found a lovely coffee shop/gallery and I had the best cup of coffee since leaving home! We drove over a bridge over the river Spey and I jumped out for a couple of pictures, a beautiful view in both directions.

We went to an area by the Dulnain river and had such fun, the river looks as though it has literally had it highs and lows! I had fun taking some black and white pictures for a change.

We stomped around and not only had fun but we have found a lovely home by the river to buy, I have always dreamed of such a property. Maybe you will visit us one day!!!

The setting is wonderful and is so close to the river, oh this is the bridge over the river!

I think Ian was overcome by the excitement as I turned round to talk to him and he was sitting down, this wasn’t a planned action but he was laughing so I knew all was well!IMG_4545 Ian oops

What do you think? I love the different style of windows it has!

The walls look solid and the chimney sound!

Only on small problem, there may be squatters!IMG_4570  house! squatters

One of the best things is we wouldn’t have to think of a name for it as it has a name plate up already!IMG_4569  house! name

So what do you think, should we make them an offer or maybe we could all club together and have a time share!!! Hopefully you can tell that even though birds seem to be hiding we have not stopped enjoying ourselves.

May round up on the way very soon.

 

 

A slightly disappointing day

Loch Garten is such a famous RSPB site maybe my hopes were too high but the reality was, although we had a lovely day we didn’t do too well with birds.

We went to see the Osprey nest which is there for all to see with a tiny bit of a parent head peeking out! To be truthful seeing Osprey out and flying over a loch knocks seeing a nest far out of the ground.IMG_2508 osprey nest at Loch Garten

We were most hopeful that we’d be able to see some of the ‘Scottish birds’ Crested tits, Crossbills and even Capercallie but it turns out we had come at the wrong time of year. We heard the Crested tits and got a brief, unsatisfactory flight view so it goes on the list but we will try for much better views. No sign at all of Crossbills or Capers (we weren’t so confident about them) but have been told of a place where occasionally they are seen early in the morning. So, tomorrow our alarm will be going off as early as we feel acceptable when we go to bed tonight!

But I wouldn’t want anyone to think today wasn’t enjoyable because it was. We were at Loch Garten before it opened so enjoyed looking over the loch itself and were amused by this family of Golden eye.IMG_4380 Golden eye family

On our walk we got beautiful views of both Loch Garten and Loch Mallachie one moment we were walking in pine woods then it opened up again to reveal some of these views! The trees are beutiful and the lichen is beutiful too, some trees were covered from top to bottom and even som eof the ground was covered.

We did also see this very lively Spotted flycatcher.

Later in the day we went to a small, comunity project hide over looking Milton Loch  with Cairngorm in the background.IMG_2534 sign

It was quiet but a heron was showing well and the sound of birds from the trees was super.

So back to the hotel to get ready for our meal  and even the views from our room are good!

Fingers crossed that our early morning tomorrow will bring rewards 🙂

On the move again

We said our goodbyes to Blairgowrie and our B & B ‘Rosebank’, they have made us very welcome and been really helpful, the room was lovely and the only negative was the tiny en-suite shower room!

We decided to take the scenic route which was lovely although the presence of literally hundreds of cyclists didn’t add to the charm! How they can cycle the distance over the hills amazes me. I don’t know if they have the chance to take in the scenery.

Our route took us up an extremely narrow lane and to our horror the cyclists were going that way too! We changed our mind and found a different way and I was rather pleased as the new way took us via Balmoral. We decided to stop for coffee so we had our coffee watching the church not knowing that the Queen was attending, what a lovely setting.IMG_4321church

We went for a walk before continuing our journey over the bridge to admire the river Dee and were told the Queen would be driving by in the next few minutes, with Prince Edward and the Duke. You will have to take my word for it that the royal party were in the front car.

She drove on by, waved but didn’t pause to invite us to lunch so we moved on again! We stopped now and then to admire the views and on one of these stops we saw a new butterfly, a Small heath, a first for us.IMG_4305 SMALL HEATH

We came to this unusual stone followed by a small group of these seats! I think the route of the mater was, in my words,  take time to smell the coffee! We had passed a sign to a castle and seeing it from the stones it isnt the most impressive one I have seen but it is set in a lovely place.

IMG_4345We had joked that the cyclists were going our way and would probably be at our hotel in Nethybridge and as we turned in there a huge group of them were! Only on a water stop though they had more miles to go yet! As we settled into our hotel the heavens opened and we couldn’t help but feel sorry for them then!

Really pleased with the hotel, lovely room and smashing staff. I have tried this year to eat sensibly so I don’t put on weight but here we have a three course meal included for the next five days, I wonder if my resolve will hold 😉 We have met some lovely people here already and I can foresee more fun chats over the days to come.

There is a pretty little garden across the road and as we discovered in an after dinner walk, another lovely river near by. Looks like a good place to spend a few days. We hope to go to Loch Garten tomorrow with hope of a tick or two, fingers crossed!IMG_4360 gardenOooo I was just going to post this but the a pretty mist is coming down and creating nice images so I will pause and see if I can capture a picture. Doesn’t show it well but hpefully gives a hint!IMG_4368Bye till tomorrow!

 

What a night!

 

What a night indeed but before the night came the day so let me tell you about that first. It was our last day in the area and we were aware that apart from going to eat we hadn’t been into the town at all so we thought we would stay locally and see what Blaigowrie had to offer. First we went for a walk by the river and once again both Grey wagtails and Dippers showed well. The Wagtails were feeding their young which is always a spectacle.

 

These two Dippers, I assume a young with a parent, also put on a good show!

Press on into town and to have a look around setting off first to find the town hall where the local Art group had an exhibition. As you may imagine it was a mixed affair and I doubt anyone could have liked all the work even if you could see the talent that lay behind it! As we went in we were given a slip of paper and asked to vote for our favourite piece before leaving. I particularly enjoyed the work of one wildlife artist and voted for her picture, ‘The elusive pine marten’

We met Delia for a farewell lunch and, as planned returned for a last walk down by the river. We did try the other  side of the bridge but didn’t take to it so returned to what was by now familiar territory! In just those few hours we had been away a change had taken place in the wagtail world! They seemed to no longer be feeding them but I assume trying to encourage them to fend for themselves. They were still close by but kept coming close then instead of passing them food, would fly up again presumably hoping they would learn how to do it. One kept trying the second, which we hadn’t seen earlier, just sat!IMG_2385

A young lady came and asked about my camera lens as she was thinking of getting one and we got in conversation. It transpired that she was a wildlife artist and on chatting further she was the artist I had just voted for, Paula Jane Anderson, small world!

Okay lets move on to our evening and what a cracker it was! We had heard that there were beavers not too far from us but had no idea where. We were linked with a man who did know, Bob a fantastic ‘Nature Nut’ and he agreed to take us at to look for them but that wasn’t all. If we left a bit early he would try for a couple of other treats too!

First stop was where the Black grouse often lek, unfortunately not last night but never mind, we moved on after a lovely sight of a Hen Harrier. We were to try to see something which was going to be the highlight of the night, Pine marten! On the way we saw this lovely hare.

Also a group of fallow deer including the lovely ‘white’ one.IMG_2498

Moving on though and we were soon settled waiting for the Pine marten, as we sat the sun moved round and of course just when it was directly opposite us that Marten arrived, making pictures impossible! Never mind we had seen it and Bob was sure it would be back, of course he was right!IMG_2489 pine martin

We were so thrilled I can’t tell you! Pine marten is not an animal I expected to be on our 2016 list! It was bigger than I had imagined and has a really big tail, look at the teeth too!

The light was fading fast but Bob said we could still have a quick try for the beavers, we agreed but I wasn’t feeling too hopeful. having said that the evening to that point had been brilliant so with or without beavers we were happy! We drove, parked, walked and arrived at a river where within minutes we saw beaver!!! It was almost dark by that time so pictures were near impossible. I will post one bad shot plus one screen shot form a little video which did come out slightly better.

What a night, Pine marten and beavers, two animals which before arriving in Blairgowrie we hadn’t even considered as possible! Bob is a top man and if you find yourself in the area I strongly recommend getting in touch with Bob, Nature Nut!

10.45 and we were back at our B & B a cuppa and a snack before settling down for our last night before moving on to Nethy Bridgs, I wonder what we will see there!

Nothing to grouse about!

The last two days we have been taken out by our friend Delia and driven around some stunning areas and seen some beautiful birds. A huge thank you Delia, today we had the company of AndyG another Birdforum member and good to meet him and have his sharp eyes along with us. I am combining the two days for ease of blogging and to make sure I get caught up before tomorrow as we have yet more exciting plans!

Yesterday we drove to Lochs and up into the hills before having lunch overlooking the beautiful Backwater reservoir.  I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the Highland cattle who like so many seemed to think that the grass really was greener the other side of the fence. We watched a Buzzard flying and Delia told us how few they have, very unlike Norfolk!

We were all chuffed to watch a Cuckoo as it sat on the wire calling.

Earlier we had seen an Osprey (219) flying high and distant but here we saw another one much clearer. We didn’t see him fish but maybe another time we will.

We called into a couple of reserves and apart from watching birds and admiring the views we were again entertained by a Red squirrel.

When we were down in the West country we had hoped to see Whinchats but had no luck, yesterday our luck changed. We were driving across heathland and we spotted one, when we got out and looked we saw there was a pair, brilliant(220)!  We also saw this lovely little Willow warbler.

There was so much more to our day I have seriously condensed it! We did have a nice meal together at The Angus Hotel in Blairgowrie before settling I for the night.

Today once again Delia collected u sand we drove of to meet Andy stopping at Rumble Bridge on the way, a lovely spot on the River Braan.IMG_4204 River Braan , Rumbling bridge

Unfortunatley the weather wasn’t so good today which as we were going high into the hills we knew it would spoil the views. But it didn’t spoil our birding as before long I spotted a Black grouse, fantastic, deffinitly a bird on our Scottish hit list!

Before the excitement had quietened we spotted a Red grouse, low down and half hidden but Red grouse none the less.

Andy and Ian were in the front car, Delia and I following when they stopped, Andy grabbed his camera and lay down in the road snapping away! Not too many places you could do that are there? Camera in hand I was soon joining in but not laying in the road, after all I would have had to get up again! Red grouse were the cause of the commotion but at first it was two little chicks, then we saw the parents too, beauties each of them.

The grouse were the highlight f the day but it was all so enjoyable and we were so fortunate to have two willing guides. On our way back down we first heard, then saw Wood warbler (223), no photo worthy of sharing.

Even on a grey sometimes drizzling day it was lovely to be high on the hills even if we had to use our imagination a bit regarding the views!

On our way home we visited the SWT site at the Loch of the Lowes where we knew they had nesting Osprey. First we went into the visitors centre which attracts lot of visitors at and around the feeders.

It was quiet on the water, a Mallard with her chicks, a pair of Great crested grebe and a few geese. High above the water though was the nest of the Osprey , the female sitting on her three hatchlings, let’s hope they make it too fledging at least. As we left the reserve we saw a group of Fallow deer on the move.

Tomorrow is our last day at Blairgowrie and we may explore more locally. We have an exciting plan for the early evening which if we are lucky may produce another tick or two!

A river dip!

I told you about our first walk by the river Ericht and the treat we found there but I didn’t tell you what it was! Well yesterday morning before our day out we went for an early walk in bright weather by the river and again we saw a Dipper, well to be honest we saw two! There were also Grey wagtails but they were so flighty that so far I don’t have many pictures. IMG_1951 Dipper

What lovely, entertaining birds they are, flying up and down the river, sitting bobbing and looking so smart. So I am just going to share some photos and later I will write about our day out. Having fun is very time consuming you know so I will have to wait till we get back later today before writing again so maybe I will combine two days out with our fried Delia.

 

This Dipper was frustratingly close but at the same time very tricky to photograph as I am fussy about not falling into rivers! So with tripod balanced I stayed on a firm footing!

We were fortunate enough to see a Dipper during our time in Devon but there superb views have been a real bonus. I must say the River Ericht did look as though it would be home to Dippers and Wagtails as soon as we set eyes on it. Having sat on this rock for some while she had a good stretch and look around before disappearing up river again, don’t you think her wings look too small for her? Do you think this is a young one? We wondered as it as a rather speckly breast.

We had to leave our river walk as Delia was coming to collect us for our smashing day out. Here are just a few Grey wagtail shots till I can do better, opportunity willing!

 

Hello Scotland

Farewell Northumberland, hello Scotland.

We have had an excellent time based in Seahouses, staying at ‘Dunelm’ B & B and would recommend it to anyone, (unless you have a dog), heading that way. Not being a great fan of bridges I think it fair to say that I wasn’t looking forward to crossing the Forth bridge, although as someone pointed out we got over the first three ok so he was sure the Forth wouldn’t give us any problems (he’s his father’s son all right!) Due to that I didn’t want to stop for a break before we had crossed so were just debating where to stop when a text message arrived form Delia (a friend met through Birdforum.net) suggesting we visit Vane Farm RSPB on the way. We took her advice and were glad we did. (Turns out it has been re-named Loch Leven)IMG_4014 sign

It is a beautiful site and of course the vista is a tad different to Norfolk!

Also birds that we take for granted seemed like a luxury here, Lapwings for example.

We walked along by the water,  visiting each of the hides also taking advantage of the rather novel blinds! I thought they were excellent and was told they were made by volunteers, maybe they would like to adopt the idea in Norfolk?

We popped into the on site café and had some lunch, for me it was the best lentil soup I have had for a long time, maybe the cook would like to move to Norfolk too!

After lunch we walked on the tree lined hill on the other side of the road, we went as far as knees would tolerate! We looked at the feeders and to our delight this fellas was taking advantage of the free feed!

Ian decided to test out one of the benches to see if they were comfy enough for a quick snooze so I carried on strolling around and found this quiet little spot. Nearby I spotted a couple of little birds obviously busy nesting, a starling and a blackcap.

I think the quiet little corner was a bit noisier just a short while before as a group of children had been delving into the pond. Loads of sites we have visited have been hosting groups of children be they from school or as at Fairburn Ings a group of Rainbows. It is good to see youngsters being encouraged to discover nature at an early age.

Time to get on the road again, under an hour and we had arrived at Blairgowrie and our B & B ‘Rosebank’. It is in a lovely position and we received a warm welcome along with tea and scones so that can’t be bad! We went for a walk by the river which is beautiful. We spotted a couple of treats and I snapped a few pictures but I won’t post yet as I intend to return and try for better…watch this space.

Tomorrow Delia is kindly whisking us away so it will be a mystery tour for us!

 

 

 

A quieter island visit

Before I tell you about our day I want to back step to yesterday and our time at the harbour after our boat trip finished. I am so taken with the beautiful Eider ducks that I thought I would look out for some more and of course I was not let down. Not only do they look lovely but if you have been fortunate enough to be fairly close to them you would have heard that they make a noise a bit like a dove, in other words they coo.

What I didn’t know was that when they make a louder almost booming coo this is how they do it, they inflate their throats. Pretty impressive I though and I do believe they were doing it to please the ladies. I am thinking of asking Ian to practice as I thought it rather fetching!

Another good nights sleep, another tasty breakfast and we were off again, this time to Lindisfarne or Holy Island. We had a smashing holiday there a few years ago so were keen to revisit it although we were pretty sure not to get any ticks today but that’s okay.

The weather was kind to us again although it was a tad changeable, so layers were going on and off regularly! So far we have been blessed with dry mostly sunny days, no complaints from us! I took a few pictures of familiar places on Lindisfarne, if you have been there you will no doubt recognise them and if not I hope you get the chance one day.

This pair of Swallows were preening bedside the path up to the castle.

Also on among the grass by the same path we found this little fella. It is the caterpillar of a moth we have only seen once, the garden tiger that can count on our moth list but I hope we see another one in adult form again! Also lots of these green veined white butterflies.

We had a really lovely walk around the island taking in many familar places. Unfamilar were the long row of stone creations on the shore which have appeared since our last visit. I have a feeling they may not last as long as Stonehenge! It was good to see this crowd of seals on a distant dans bank.

We had lunch in The Ship pub on Lindisfarne and very good it was too! Soon after that we left across the causeway and on our way back we visited Bamborough beach which up till today we had only seen in the distance. It is beautiful and seemed very close to Inner Farne where we had been yesterday.

We decided, as we are by now in full holiday mode, to get chips for tea and eat them looking over the sea. Now it should be said that when we decided that it was fairly warm and a still day but my goodness by the time it was chip time the wind has whipped up considerably! None the less we got our chips and walked until we found an available bench, I thought we were going to get back to Bamborough!

We may have been a little bit chilly but my goodness we had it easy compared to the gulls etc on the sea! We were surprised to see some spring flowers fighting the wind.

We walked back to the harbour watching the sea crashing over the sea wall. As we approached the Lifeboat station I was surprised to see it open as by now it was early evening. Then ahead I realised the lifeboat was being launched, it happen so quickly I couldn’t get to it in time to picture it. We did see them launch the small inflatable lifeboat, I am fairly certain it was a training drill but the way the waves are growing who knows when they will be really needed. I have amazing admiration for lifeboatmen, the thought of going through what they do fills me with dread!IMG_4003 lifeboat

Well tomorrow we cross the border as we head for Blairgowrie in Scotland, I am looking forward to it although I feel in no rush to leave Seahouse.

A day filled with pictures!

The day began well with a walk down to the harbour to visit Billy Shiels boat trip stand to see if we could get on a boat today. Well to be honest before that we had a yummy breakfast at our B & B, it is called ‘Dunelm’ and we would deffinately recommend it. Anyway back to boat trips and yes we were in luck we booked the mid day trip to Inner Farne, just what we wanted and to top it all the sky was blue and set to remain like it all day. We saw a stoat we dashing around on the sea shore, disappearing under the stones! This shows where we were going later.IMG_3497 Farne from Seahouses

The time to board the boat soon came around and we were off heading across calm waters to Inner Farne . Even before we arrived we saw Grey seals.

We drove around some of the other islands and got our first sight of what we were all hoping for…birds!

We saw the lighthouse on Inner Farne and also the Grace Darling lighthouse. The excitment was mounting as we approached our destination. It didn’t seem to matter if people had been before or not, they were either excited knowing what to expect or the first timers, like us, we’re full of hope that it would be as good as we had heard. Now I know the good photographers out there would have been on the ground getting straight on shots but that isn’t for me, to be honest the fear is that if I had tried that approach the boat home would have gone without me!

We were greeted by the Arctic terns as we arrived and all I had heard about them bombing your head and having a good peck turned out to be true! Well at least that was what happened to some of us, me included, others, Ian included were mostly left alone. To be honest in a strange way it was part of the experience so I didn’t mind!

We walked around the island and I was really hoping for good views of Puffin, I needn’t have worried! I don’t know anyone that doesn’t love a Puffin, they are so beautiful and at the same time very funny. Even their nesting habit amuses me, nesting in burrows, do they think they ar rabbits?!

Okay here’s some more then!

There were lots of Guilimots too including some bridled ones, you can spot them by the white eye ring and line down from the eye.

It it doesn’t seem to matter how many there are in any one place there is always space for another one to drop in!

We also saw a few Razorbills but not many, I have included a Black headed gull, not very exciting but none the less present! Also the occasional Common term. There were also good numbers of Shag some already with young.

Also nesting in good numbers were Kittiwakes, they seem such a gentle birds although I may be quite wrong!

We were only on the island for about an hour but it was brilliant and I would happily go again! It was certainly helped by the lovely weather, although there was a bit of a mist. I have saved some more Puffin shots to end on our time on Farne as we head back to Seahouse.

We we arrived back in the harbour and whilst walking we were treated to more Eiders but I am saving those pictures for the next time. Later after a lovely meal at The Lincs we saw ‘our boat’ at rest we were heading ‘home’ to rest too!IMG_3809

The beautiful Puffins brought our number up to 218

Yesterday’s dip is today’s tick!

We made an early start this morning and arrived at the WWT Washington at opening time. Unlike the other WWT sites we have visited this year it has an understated building which houses the visitors centre and café and it all sits in the landscape beautifully.IMG_3347

We were greeted by very friendly staff and were given the run down on the site and when asked I was delighted to hear that yes they have Willow tits on site, we were off! Like yesterday we were advised to wait were there were feeders, in a beautiful woodland position. The feeders and surrounding area had plenty of visitors, including those shown below.

The poor Robin looked as though she’d had a rough spring, at first I thought it was a young one not yet red but no she was just very worn!

After nearly an hour I was chuffed to see what we were waiting for a Willow tit, in fact two appeared. They didn’t stay long and we didn’t see them again, but we were happy enough, mission accomplished and he was bird number 216.

We spent most of the morning in the woodland area before heading off in search of lunch in the café. It was a simple lunch but delicious, we would certainly recommend it to others.

Off we went again to explore more of the site, passing quickly the captive birds which don’t really hold much interest for us although I did rather like these Flamingos!IMG_3346 flamingoes! Common terns were abundant and just the occasional wader including this Little ringed plover. There were plenty of duckling and goslings around the site.

 

These Avocet chicks were rather delightful! I have noticed in Norfolk that Heron numbers seem to be getting lower, maybe they have moved up north!

Time to carry on with our journey and head for Northumberland and a few days in Seahouses. We found our B & B and happily found it to be lovely and well position just a few minutes walk to the harbour. After getting a few things unpacked and a quick cuppa we went out for a walk to find the harbour. We were very pleased to find Eiders in beautiful plumage swimming not too far away.

Today has been a lovely day and Tomorrow we we hope to get a boat out to the Frane islands and see what we find there! Eiders brought our bird count to 217