Thursday was another warm but breezy day with plenty of sunshine. The morning was spent exploring previously unvisited sections of the extensive Insh Marshes, particularly the birch and aspen woods which border the valley. The Marsh Harrier was seen again and a fine male Hen Harrier was unexpected. More routine raptors were Common Buzzard, Osprey and Sparrowhawk, but a Hobby was also a pleasant surprise. Despite being internationally important for water birds, it is actually quite hard to see any unless they fly up! However, viewing conditions have been improved in recent years and it is now possible to see Redshank, Curlew, Snipe, ducks etc where previously it was normally possible to only hear them! A Dipper was at Tromie Bridge and small birds of the woods included Redstart, Tree Pipit and the usual finches, 'Crossbills' and warblers.
The afternoon was taken up hiking the numerous trails and footpaths around Abernethy Forest which includes Loch Garten and the woodland complex bordering Nethy Bridge. Probably the highlight was a day-time Pine Marten which appeared on a woodland track at 3pm, ran up a conifer to attack a tit flock and ran back down and disappeared - all in about 30 seconds! Of course the Ospreys at Loch Garten were easy to see and we were impressed with the visual and information displays at the viewing centre.
Other typical birds included Crested Tit, Tree Pipit, and 'Crossbills' (please see below). A recently cut hay field attracted at least 23 Mistle Thrushes.
The evening was again devoted to mammals, although a Woodcock was seen briefly. This time we were treated to three Pine Martens, two of which emerged in something close to daylight conditions. Other mammals of interest included Red Squirrel, Roe and Red Deer and six Badgers. We left the badgers to their feast and again turned in on the wrong side of Midnight. With early starts and very late finishes, sleep deprivation has been a continual feature of this 'holiday'!
E & N
|Crested Tit with juvenile|