Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Where has the beach gone ?

The warmer weather lately plus the rain has caused most of the snow to melt from the mountains surrounding Loch Ness and thus fill up the loch to the highest we have ever seen it. It has also been very windy over the Christmas holidays and there is alot of wooden and vegetation debris strewn around the sinking chairs and also at the 'nearly underwater' Farigaig Pier.We were surprised when our guests went down to the beach with their dog as usual and called up to say that the beach had disappeared !
Going down to see exactly what they meant I found the end of the path was underwater and the waves were lapping around the old rowing boat. The chairs were sitting sadly alone in Loch no rest here for any walkers for a while !

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Feed the birds

It has turned really cold lately with continuing flurries of sleet or snow.  Due to the shortening length of daylight hours the birds now rapidly gorge on any food put out for them and the feeders need filling up twice a day.The bird bath is usually iced up but there are other water bowls in the garden [normally ex roasting pans as it is easier to bash the ice out of these]. In this frantic time when their natural food of insects are scarce we do see more varieties of birdlife than we normally would. The Long Tailed Tits descend fleetingly in gangs for a quick fill up and make alot of sweet noises. The larger Great Spotted Woodpecker is watched warily by the smaller birds as it flies in. We have had welcome visits by the Goldfinch and Greenfinch and a pair of tiny Goldcrests,our smallest bird,has been seen on the feeders.The female has a yellow stripe compared to the bright orange of the male.Lots of blackbirds now and chaffinches galore.The Robin is the boldest of them all and will fly on to the bird table whilst I am laying out the dish of the day.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Winter blows in.

The snow has melted around the house now but is still on the lower fields and mountains opposite. It has either been raining or sleeting which at least has defrosted the driveway.
Today it is extremely violent with wind coming from the west creating sudden gusts that make the windows rattle and all the trees out front bow over.There is much white water on Loch Ness with alot of spray blowing about on top of the huge rolling waves coming down the Great Glen.The power has just gone off and the generator now comes into its own. It is also connected to Aspenwood so guests need not worry about power cuts.
Whatever the weather the birds and red squirrels gather hungrily at the feeders and stock up on food during the ever decreasing daylight hours.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Snow has arrived

Had a good covering of snow at lower levels recently and the house is surrounded by the white stuff [cats are not happy]. Very icy underfoot this morning so put on my newly acquired 'Spikers' over my boots to fill up all the feeders for the birds and is amazing what they eat in the early hours while we are still slumbering. Gave up on defrosting the bird bath as the ice on top was so thick and just put more food on the surface.We have noticed the wildlife eating the snow on the plants or ground for the water content. Really cold all day today with the temperature not rising above freezing and the surrounding scenery looks just like a Winter wonderland. We have guests staying at the moment and we often wave to them as they walk their dog along the front path. We look forward to our guests coming for this Christmas and the New Year and also we have recently had a booking for next New Year.....secretly everyone loves the snow and we are all big kids at heart. 

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Falls of Foyers

Our guests last week took a walk to the famous Falls of Foyers in the nearby village of Foyers, about 3 miles from Aspenwood. In all the years they have been staying in the cottage and visiting these falls they had never seen it so full of life. The water and melting snow from the surrounding hills was really cascading down this 165 feet waterfall creating enormous amounts of spray before entering Loch Ness.
Many thanks to Elaine and Ian for taking this video and getting soaking wet in the process.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Little and Large.

The weather has turned very chilly now we have reached December and more snow has fallen on the mountains surrounding Loch Ness although not on lower ground....yet!
Went to visit a friend on her farm near Foyers and had a good chat over a drink. As we looked out of the window we watched their horse, with its lovely blonde mane and tail, running around the field with his shetland pony companion....possibly to keep warm. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Winter weather update

Experienced a rich variety of weather patterns this week with something different to look at each day. Started with freezing fog drifting down the loch very low over the water causing a stunning reflection in Loch Ness. Then we witnessed rainbows reflected in the water too. At one time we saw a perfect rainbow arc reflected in the water making a circle of colours....really breath-taking to look at and I could not tear myself away from the window. It didn't last long and by the time I got the camera only the ends of the rainbow remained.

Yesterday was really windy and chilly and we were glad to sit by the cosy fire listening to the great gusts of wind rattling at the windows. This morning we woke up to see snow on the mountain tops opposite and a very menacing sky. Winter has arrived in all its glory.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Great spotted woodpecker at Aspenwood.


The Great Spotted Woodpecker is a frequent visitor to the nut feeders outside the large lounge window of Aspenwood Cottage. It is extremely sensitive and the slightest noise or movement causes it to fly away and climb up the nearest tree trunk. This one is a male because of the red feathers at the back of its head - females do not have this colouring. We wondered if it is one of the juveniles we took on video being fed by dad back in do have a look at our Video Gallery.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chilling out !

The weather suddenly turned very chilly yesterday evening and there was a sharp ground frost everywhere when we looked out this morning. The temperature remained just above zero all day and a low freezing fog drifted along the loch from the NE.
Wrapped up warm and walked along to the pier crunching on all the frosted leaves underfoot although strangely some plants were still in flower in the hedgerows.

Removed the ice from the birdbath and topped up all the feeders as this is the time of year when the birds and red squirrels need us most. We heard on the radio that blackbirds have started to breed as the weather has been so mild lately they think it is Spring again.
The squirrels have started to grow their darker Winter coat and larger ear tufts ready for protection against the cold. We are all prepared for Winter......bring it on !

Friday, November 11, 2011

Walking in Torr Woods at Dores.

Another beautiful autumn day dawned so after completing some work in Inverness we drove back and parked at Dores beach which was almost full up with people enjoying a lunchtime meal in The Dores Inn. We thoroughly enjoyed walking along Dores beach on the pebbles and then turned right in to Torr Woods. We noticed alot of the overhanging branches and prickly bushes had been cut back and there is now a new secure gate leading in to the woods with a passing gate. Met one or two people with their very energetic dogs carrying branches of various sizes and passed the time of day but mostly we were on our own in very peaceful and colourful surroundings.
There are a few small secluded beaches on this walk which lead down to the shoreline of Loch Ness so we stood and relaxed for a while admiring the wonderful panoramic views.

On the return journey we had previously noticed a newly made forest track leading down towards Loch Ness so we explored this further and sure enough it opened up onto a very rocky but picturesque shoreline. It is not possible to walk along the shoreline unless you want to get very wet so we followed a man and his dogs along a new lower forest footpath and came out at the end of the crescent shaped Dores beach.  The weather was beautiful and we enjoyed an excellent walk in the November sunshine.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

November weather so far.

We have had a very dry start to the month with pleasant mild temperatures for the time of year....double figures during the daytime but just above freezing at night. Most days have opened with a clear blue sky after a beautiful starry night but we will wait to see what is ahead. Last year it did start to snow in late November but for now we shall enjoy each day.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Walk along the River Oich

A fine dry day so we drove over the mountain and skirted Loch Tarff on the way to Fort Augustus. Spotted two stags silhouetted on the hilltop and a gushing waterfall tumbling down the hillside. Drove through the village and turned left at the sign to Jenkins Park and Auchterawe. At the end of this rather bumpy track we parked in the car park and strolled though the woods admiring the magnificent seasonal colours. The large elm trees were especially grand and still dressed in leaves of various autumn shades. Underfoot we walked on carpets of leaves and pine needles. After a peaceful stroll we took a right hand path leading down to the River Oich which was gushing along at a good speed and bubbling over the rocks at certain points. Ray has been here fishing and had knowledge of the various pools allowed for fishing. We did not meet a soul and it was a most refreshing walk on a November morning.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Wildlife update

The abundant red squirrels are daily visitors on the feeding platform at Aspenwood and they are often joined by a rich variety of birds. Guests this month have seen great tit, blue tit, coal tit, robin, chaffinch, goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker, greenfinch and ‘Cedric the siskin’….it is not just us who give the creatures names! This week we have initially heard and then seen a gang of long tailed tits zooming in and out of the trees.
One of our guests this week was in the lounge at 1 a.m. and looked out of the window to see a badger eating the remains of food on the ground under the feeders. It was also scooping food out of the water bath on the ground which is conveniently placed there for the pheasants who visit.
We know there is a large badger sett in the forest adjoining the cottage as we have been able to photograph them [as above] but they are rarely seen.  Guests last week went to Chanonry Point and actually saw the Moray Firth dolphins. Even though they have been visiting us for many years they have never managed to see these wonderful marine creatures before. The predatory sparrowhawk suddenly appears from nowhere and sometimes manages to catch a bird in his lethal talons although they ignore the squirrels….too heavy to carry off.
Amid all this excitement going on in the world outside the windows our two Loch Ness Monsters prefer to be safely in the warm and dream about their younger days.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Autumn colours

The leaves are really turning now and blowing about in the wind. There are beautiful colours everywhere and we enjoyed the drive to Cawdor Tavern. Had a lovely relaxed lunch near the log fire. On the return journey we spotted a rare red kite hovering above a corn field looking for his lunch too..