Thursday, 7 April 2011

Dedicated to Angus At The Nethy Bridge Hotel

Firstly, we have decide to dedicate this post to Angus at the Nethy Bridge Hotel as both nights we have been in there he has given us such a warm welcome. Last night he was there as a customer, but was happy to show us around particularly the snooker room as I have played a frame or two there in years gone by. This evening he was pulling the pints but the conversation still remained interesting. Thanks a Lot Angus!

Secondly, there were three omissions from yesterdays post with no pictures of the

Osprey's nest Loch Garten, totally forgotten about in our excitement of seeing a Capercaille. Here the female sits in the nest screaming at the top of her voice hoping to coax the male into going 'fishing'.

He on the other hand seemed quite happy to just sit in the neighbouring tree (complete with CCTV camera) possibly thinking about the nuptials to come (like any self-respecting male?). Also from yesterday I omitted to add Scottish Crossbill to the list, and finally there was no totals, which will be the same tonight as 'The Scribe', Dave has gone to bed. So, I hope to rectify that tomorrow.

After the prolonged effort to secure a sighting of Crested Tit yesterday, we decided to stake out the single bird that has been very occasionally visiting the feeder at Loch Garten. Putting breakfast on 'hold' we returned to the Gate House where I managed to talk my way in, on yesterday's ticket, to take the photos above and luckily saw another male Capercaille feeding in a Scottish Pine tree. Soon, several of the more common birds started on the peanuts including Coal Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Siskin, while

Chaffinch were plentiful,

as were Great Tit, but we didn't have to wait too long for the prize of the morning to show up.

This fantastic Crested Tit lingered no more that 10 seconds, grabbed some nut and was gone. A 'lifer' for Dave and a most welcome Year Tick for me, doubt there will be one of those at The Bill! On our way back to the B & B there was time to get this shot of

a pair of Goldeneye on a very choppy Loch Garten, followed by eggs and bacon all round. At least our morning was earmarked to search for Ptarmigan and so with stomachs full we headed, via

the Rothiemurchus Forest to the Ski Centre at Cairn Gorm.

There, our plan was to climb the North Corrie, a subsidiary mountain to Cairn Gorm if you like, but as we left the car 2 things befell us. Firstly, after a bright and sunny start to the day with little wind and a decent temperature, the rain started. Secondly, and due to bad timing we found we were to be proceeded up the mountain by what we thought were a group of walkers. Not ideal if your trying to stalk birds, but we all have a right to be there,

and our destination, shrouded in mist, lay ahead.

Crossing the small burn we noticed some snow was still quite low down the slopes which gave us some encouragement of a quick find. Ptarmigan cannot feed above the snow line, so the further it lies down the mountain, the near the birds should be to us!

Dave was soon at it, scanning every boulder for his next 'lifer'

while less than a quarter of the way up I thought it an ideal moment for a rest and take in the scenery.

In the far distance was the sheer cliff which is the boundary between the 2 mountains, but much closer to us was

the large group that had preceded us up the hill. They are it turns out students from Dundee University carrying our survey work, but it was unfortunate that at this point they had a twisted ankle to sort out. They were all very friendly and most polite, and hopefully reading this, so Best Wishes to you all and hope your friend is recovered.

At about this point we started to hear 'calling' birds (which was my 'Year Tick secured) but not only did Dave need to 'see it' as a 'Lifer'

he was also having trouble pulling himself out of a Snow Hole. We didn't see any Ptarmigan, the first time I've dipped at this site, but there you go so we

returned to the car

and left a little 'sheepishly' to decide on our next move. To come all this way and miss such a bird was not to be given over lightly, and I was quite happy to drive the 100+ miles round trip to try our hand at Glen Shee. There follows a panorama from the top of the mountain, which overlooks in part the Highlands and the Cairngorms.

There we found about half a dozen Mountain or Blue Hare and also had close encounters with more

Red Grouse with both the male and

the female showing both legs and feet which is usually very difficult given the height of the Heather.

This was the best image we could get of a 'pair' together.

There was time to take a look at the Ski Resort many feet below, noting our hire car to the left of the middle building, before making our decent. The weather up top had been quite a different kettle of fish, particularly the wind which was blowing a full gale force 9, and had an edge like a razor blade - Buurrrrrrrr! In addition, and disappointingly, there was not a hint of a Ptarmigan either, but continuing down the gigantic valley of Glen Shee, Dave soon picked up on a small herd of grazing

Red Deer with this

mini Monarch of the Glen certainly the master of all he surveyed.

This croft some miles on and about 5 miles from Breamar has a whole story of it's own to tell which I'll hopefully get back to telling as time allows. For now surfice to say that in 1963 I, as a young sailor, spent many a pleasant night both in the dwelling and in the town close by.

The Manor House at Cockbridge, lies just a few miles before the Bridge of Brown, which is something of a 'built up' area hereabouts. Consisting of a house, a shop, a tea room and a B&B they are all part of the same building, which 'blink' and you miss it. Just the other side of here, and getting up a nice turn of speed, Dave suddenly shouts "Lady Amhurst" and I pull to a halt. A quick description from him tells me he has just seen a Pheasant of that name, but I thought 'highly unlikely'? I knew it was too good to be true (and wouldn't have counted on any list anyway) but a short search revealed it was ONLY a

Reeve's Pheasant anyway - wot!

Here, miles away from any habitation, there strutting through the Heather is one of the most magnificent birds ever, and we got to see it. Doubtless an escapee from somewhere, but what a way to end another fabulous day!

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