Apologies for the lack of updates over the last few days. Our Internet connection now appears to be finally resolved!
On Sunday 18th May it was an early 4.30am start as we motored over to Loch Garten. As expected no Capercallies were on show (apparently it has been a very poor season for them showing this year), but we were privileged to witness (with the assistance of a high definition camera), the first-hatched Osprey chick take it's very first feed from mother! The egg hatched overnight but the female brooded the nestling before finally offering it some carefully manipulated slithers of best trout as acquired by the male bird called Odin.
A pair of Redstart were busy in a nest-box right in front of the visitor centre, the female already brooding a clutch of eggs. A couple of Red Squirrels showed and a scat on the track outside the centre showed that a Pine Marten had been about while we were in there, but no-one saw it!
Next was a walk through the Abernethy Forest and in to Nethybridge. Crossbills were heard calling and the deep tones suggested they were not of the Common variety. As with much of the woodland up here at this time of the year, the trees played host to incredible numbers of singing Willow Warblers and good numbers of Redstart, Spotted Flycatcher and Siskin, and with plenty of Tree Pipits singing in the glades and edges. Quite different to the English Midlands where such sounds are pretty isolated and the populations fragmented. Cuckoos too are a common sound here, frequently on the moorland and woodland edge. Both Grey Wagtail and Dipper were on territory at Nethybridge.
After a well-deserved brunch at the excellent Rothiemurchus Estate cafe, we next birded an area close to Aviemore. A couple of singing Wood Warblers included an apparently unmated male singing and vibrating his heart out plus more Tree Pipits and Spotted Flycatchers. A female Peregrine remained well-concealed on her clutch of eggs.
We finished the day at an old favourite venue of ours which is the very extensive Insh Marshes, which is made all the more accessible due to the Bradenoch Way footpath. The RSPB manage the area and there is an excellent viewpoint which provides a commanding view over a section of the marsh. Large numbers of Roe Deer are always on view, the aquatic habitat with it's lush vegetation much to their liking. Breeding waders include Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank and Snipe. Redstarts and Tree Pipits sing from the birch-covered slopes and resident raptors include Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. It is thought that this area represents one of the key sites in the UK for breeding Spotted Crake, but it is another thing seeing one!
We finished the day with an Osprey, common woodland birds and a Large Red Damselfly, and providing some food on the grass by our woodland cabin induced the local wildlife to banquet, including a couple of Badgers.
Eleanor and Neil
|Many of the adult male|
Chaffinches in this part
of the world are incredibly
|Spotted Flycatcher trying|
out a possible new home!
|Bird of the Day - a stunning|
|Ruthven Barracks standing|
proud before the Insh Marshes
|'Peanuts are OK but is|
there any more jam sandwiches?'