Yesterday (Saturday) we took our leave from Gairloch and slowly headed over to a more central location in Speyside, this now being our last week in Scotland. The usual shore birds waved good-bye on Gairloch sea-front and we drove steadily over to Inverness. Birds noted en-route included Common Buzzard, Red Kite, the last of the Hooded Crows, Raven, Spotted Flycatcher and the usual finches and roadside birds.
We stopped off at Loch Ruthven and manged to see up to four adult Slavonian Grebes, this loch being the stronghold site for the British breeding population. Unfortunately they stayed out in the middle of the water and at least one was already losing its vibrant summer plumes. Other birds included Little Grebes with young, a pair of Red-breasted Merganser, the first Swifts for three weeks and two Ospreys.
Not far from here there is a minor road that passes over some high moorland and in to the Findhorn Valley. We took this road and immediately came across Red Grouse which included a pair with six young. A Red Kite was further along the road. On turning in to the Findhorn valley to pick up the A9 again, an Osprey fished the river much to the alarm of breeding Curlew and Oystercatcher who quickly saw the avian fisher off!
The crows in Speyside are essentially Carrion Crows, some showing clear signs of some Hoodie genes. We found our new abode in the village of Insh and then we decided to visit an old stomping ground, the national nature reserve of Insh Marshes. This an area of wetland, marsh and rough pasture which includes Loch Insh, much of it being managed by the RSPB. We birded here until very late and saw a Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard family of Tawny Owls and routine fare. There were plenty of Roe Deer grazing in the fields and coarse marshes, these animals now sporting the stunning chestnut summer 'plumage' with the dark browns of the winter coat long forgotten.
Eleanor and Neil
|Female Red Grouse|
|Osprey and irate Curlew!|
|Juvenile Tawny Owls huddled together|
|Buck Roe Deer|
We have been baiting areas
in a vain effort to attract the nocturnal
Pine Marten. Clearly badgers enjoy jam
sandwiches at least as much as