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..

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What spooked Cyril the squirrel ?

While working at Aspenwood I always like to look out of the lounge window to check on the local wildlife and see if the feeders need filling and the bird bath needs cleaning. I was amused to see this young red squirrel run along the platform fence to feed and then stop in its tracks. It could hear something I couldn't and was shaking its tail in alarm and stamping its feet.....what had it seen ?  Soon the mystery was solved.
Not long after there were 3 squirrels outside the lounge window eating at various feeders.
Best watched with the sound off............enjoy.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ducks in Dores

It has been a cool and dry week and after gathering supplies in Inverness today we fell into the Dores Inn on the way home for a bite to eat. Surprisingly it was nearly full up with many different languages being spoken so we headed for the room out the back which looks onto the terrace facing Loch Ness. The tables were nicely set out with fresh flowers on the table tops and the staff were very friendly. There were several tasty items on the Specials Board although we could not face the crispy roast duck as there were plenty of wild ducks outside. We chose the the fish and chips in a beer batter which was very tasty and went down a treat. Had to pass all the ducks on the way to the car park but we were able to hold our heads up high and did not feel at all guilty.

                        In the evening we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Footpath cleared....walk easy.

The other week we noticed a Forestry van parked at the end of our driveway and, being curious, Ray walked down to see what they were planning. The woman forester introduced herself as Shona and said they were looking at the number of native species of trees as they were going to chop down some other invading trees to give natives priority. She was surprised the public footpath was so badly overgrown and she was quite shocked when Ray showed her the old wooden gate along the path which had collapsed earlier in the year due to old age. This freedom of access has allowed cars to drive along the footpath thinking they could get through to Foyers and we often have to assist them in reversing all the way back. Some have even parked for the night and we worry about fires being lit in a forest location and also so near to our house. Shona made several notes;- to erect a sign stating 'No Through Road' at the beginning of the path, to erect a new sturdy metal gate with padlock that only forestry employees can open as they have a storage space further along the path and,most importantly,to cut back the overgrown vegetation along the public footpath.
As good as her word all of these have now been implemented although the sign is on its way. It is now much more pleasant to walk along the path, round the locked gate and further on into Farigaig Forest if you wish. This path runs parallel with Loch Ness and is used every day by locals with their dogs and we often see our guests strolling along. As well as locals it is used by groups of ramblers, cyclists and the occasional horse rider.
So well done Shona. 

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Windy weather

An extremely windy week although it has calmed down today.Loch Ness has been very rough and colourless...these photos look like they were taken in black and white but no !
The waves were amazing to watch and you realised the power of the water. I was glad I was on dry land. Surprisingly there were a few cruisers and the Rib and yachts about and we watched them bob up and down like corks.

Strange to think that only one week ago we were sitting on the seats on the beach sunbathing with a refreshing glass in hand. Yesterday I had trouble standing upright [without a drink] as the wind was so strong but unusually warm.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Somewhere over the rainbow.......

A beautiful perfectly formed rainbow appeared opposite the house this morning making a magical bridge across Loch Ness. Unfortunately the weather got rougher during the day but that is another story.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Loch Ness Marathon 2011

The very popular 10th annual Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running took place yesterday including various events of different lengths. As well as the 26 mile Marathon there was also a 10K and 5K race as well as the 'Wee Nessie' race for pre-school children. More than 8,000 runners from 45 countries took part in these various events. More than 3,000 runners entered for the Loch Ness Marathon gathering at Whitebridge and the first group of serious runners set off at 10 a.m. in a misty drizzle from very low cloud with the intention of reaching Inverness after 26 miles. Other competitors followed running for many different charities and personal causes some even dressing up for the occasion and making it more of a fun run. We walked up to watch from the entrance to Aspenwood Cottage and offered encouragement and support plus lots of light hearted laughs to spur the runners on their way.

The winner was Great Britain International Tomas Abyu from Salford Harriers who finished the race in 2hrs 20mins. He also won this race in 2003 and 2010.