Friday, December 14, 2012

Freezing fog.

This week the chilly temperatures have caused wisps of freezing fog to drift up the Great Glen from the west coast. Yesterday was minus 4C throughout the day and much colder at night. Snow fell all day and there is now a layer around the house. Fortunately though, the forecast for the next few days is for warmer temperatures with rain showers which will enable the snow to melt. During the cold white snowy spell it is easier to spot certain bird species that normally would not be so visible, especially the tiny Goldcrest which is the UK's smallest bird. Gangs of Long Tailed Tits flit about the woodland, descend on the feeders altogether and are gone in a few seconds.
Tiny Goldcrest

Gang of Long Tailed Tits

Monday, December 10, 2012

Keeping warm !!

Noticed a much greater number of blackbirds feeding in the garden this month and they especially enjoy any soft fruit left out for them. Although we usually see them throughout the year with their normal colouration as captured above, we have noticed some males with black beaks. On further investigation I have read that there has been a great arrival of winter Scandanavian visitors-Fieldfares,Redwings and Blackbirds-who come to refuel, get through the 'milder' British winter and then fly back north to their homeland to breed. The juvenile male Scandanavian blackbird has a prominent black beak during its first year.
The blackbirds often share the bird table with the red squirrels in their smart warm winter coats and fully grown ear tufts. There are plenty of squirrels eating at the various feeding stations during the limited daylight hours and they dash about frantically burying food, hopefully which they will be able to find later in the colder weather. Clear blue sky today with zero temperature and the forecast of an Arctic chill on the way. Brrrrr.....

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Snow on show.

The weather has turned colder this month producing deep snow on high ground. The CairnGorm Ski Centre has opened early and doing good business. This morning there was snow and frost laying on the ground around the house and the temperature is forecast for minus 7C tomorrow....something to really look forward to !

Had to put on my safety Spikers this morning to go out and feed the birds and squirrels and to break the thick ice on the bird bath. The robins are particularly cheeky, and maybe very hungry, and fly on to the bird table as I am putting food on to it. Whatever the weather the wildlife rely on you at this time of year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Colourful end to November

The last week of November has produced some very colourful scenes. We did have some rain, although nowhere like other parts of the country, and fortunately it all runs down into Loch Ness. The temperatures fell overnight resulting in a covering of snow on the mountains opposite. One evening we were amazed to suddenly notice a beautiful sun set with the red sky reflected in the water.
Another day we witnessed an electric coloured rainbow through the mist.....a very colourful end to November.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

November sun set on Loch Ness

A beautiful bright blue sky day today but chilly. Walked down to Farigaig Pier to take this  video and watch the sun setting over the loch.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Big ears is back !

The weather has been seasonally mild lately with temperatures in double figures and there are still small swarms of insects in the air and on the trees. This food source has caused great excitement particularly to the gangs of long tailed tits and treecreepers. The Great Spotted Woodpecker has been spotted creeping up or down the tree trunks and launching itself at the suet balls hanging from the branches. The red squirrels now have fully grown ear tufts ready for extra warmth in the colder weather and they look like 'proper squirrels'. They eat anything on the menu including suet cake, sunflower hearts, seeds, scones, biscuits, carrots although they are very partial to peanuts. I did try them with some monkey nuts but they were not amused, after all, why go to all that effort to break the shells when someone else will do it for you !

Monday, November 05, 2012

Colours of Autumn

 The colours around Loch Ness are spectacular at the moment especially when the water is calm allowing a beautiful reflection to penetrate into the depths. The trees lining the lanes form an arch of autumnal shades and as the weather has been cold and crisp and dry we have enjoyed many leisurely local walks admiring the views and breathing in the lovely fresh air.

                       Even the wildlife seems to blend in with the autumn shades.

Monday, October 29, 2012

First snow.

Last Friday we watched as a white wall of snow came eastward from Urquhart Castle and swept over us in a windy flurry. It only lasted five minutes and disappeared elsewhere. The temperatures have been zero at night causing a frost to form on the hills opposite amongst the autumn colours. More snow has fallen on the Cairngorms and Aviemore but today it is a warm 5C. Our Loch Ness Monsters have begun to hibernate....not a bad idea !

Monday, October 22, 2012

Getting cooler.

The days have been getting cooler with temperatures in single figures although this does not deter the hardy sailors who must have to contend with very cold weather drifting up the Great Glen. This morning was so foggy that we could not see Loch Ness at all but by about 2 o clock the mist had descended down in to the water leaving a clear blue sky. The forecast is for colder northerly Arctic temperatures from Thursday with a strong possibility of snow laying on higher ground. Last week the Cairngorms had 2 inches of snow at Scotland's largest ski resort and also snow at the car park at the foot of the funicular mountain railway which bodes well for an early start to the ski season as they normally open during November.
Although it is cold it is also quite beautiful and the gleaming autumn shades are spectacular.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Sunset on Loch Ness.

A very chilly start to the week with temperatures in single figures during the day and just above zero at night with a sprinkling of snow forecast for the tops of the Grampian and Cairngorm mountains. 
This evening we had a beautiful sunset which was a cheerful ending to a rather dull day. The blue night sky is a sign of a starry night and a good reason for a warming nightcap.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Pine Marten comes for lunch.

Talking about amazing wildlife ....We were very surprised during Sunday lunch to hear a disturbance in the trees near the house and to suddenly see a young Pine Marten dash out of the shrubbery and launch himself onto the bird bath for a good drink. He then managed to work out how to climb down the carefully placed branch - put there to help young squirrels - and on to the bird table. We have not seen one during the daylight as they are normally nocturnal creatures although they are known to be active during the day in the summer months.The weather has been fair and bright this week so obviously this youngster was making hay while the sun shone. During his visit there were 3 pheasants in the garden and a red squirrel on a nearby tree who were not too fazed by this new visitor. Pine martens have been known to chase squirrels if they are very hungry although their diet is very we witnessed. It was just amazing to watch from the window.
Our guests at Aspenwood Cottage last week did put out alot of suet balls in the wire feeder which were all 'stolen' over night so we think this is the thief.
Check out more Pine Marten info.

Watch the Pine Marten on video.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Wildlife update

The big brown hare has been running around the place at great speed and is about the size of a puppy. A mother and young deer have been appearing on the front bank leading down to Loch Ness in the mornings munching at the grass. The birds are always pleased to see you in the mornings for feeding time and the robins paricularly can be quite bold and cheeky, often landing on the bird table as the food is being put out. There are more greenfinches about now and a few sightings of the long tailed tits. The pheasant family appear and hoover up any food remains under the feeders keeping the place neat and tidy. Of course the red squirrels are constant visitors all year round and enable me to creep up quite near to them for a really close up photo. Their ear tufts are slowly growing ready for winter warmth.
The garden area is a haven of wildlife activity and a constant source of amazement.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

'Fingal' barge on choppy Loch Ness

This week has been very wet and windy accompanied by a rather ominous sky at times although the sun did break through the clouds occasionally and brightened up our day. There are more cruisers bobbing about on the white water of Loch Ness for the Autumn break season and, because of all the Spring and Summer showers, the leaves on the smaller trees are beginning to turn a shade of light orange making Autumn a little earlier this year. The 'Fingal' barge….made famous for the August helicopter rescue….is very busy and ploughs through the rough water like a butter knife.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Caught smoking on Loch Ness !

This week started with very blustery winds and heavy showers of rain racing up the corridor of The Great Glen from the west coast. By Wednesday the weather had calmed down but there is now a distinct chill in the air and the talk of snow falling on the tops. Certain boats still have to ply their trade and we saw this old style 'Parahandy' tug chugging up towards Inverness billowing smoke high into the air. Several leisure craft plus canoes and kayaks are still braving the elements.....I think travelling on 'Parahandy' would be much warmer.....smoke or no smoke.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

What a breeze !

The last few days and nights have been extremely windy with gusts of up to 40 mph but the plus side is that the temperature has been in double figures. The branches of the trees  have been bowing down low and waving about wildly in the breeze. This windy weather however did not stop the hardy sailors and several yachts zoomed past using their sails for 'full speed ahead'. We were a bit surprised to see the RIB in business and the passengers certainly had a bumpy journey back from Urquhart Castle down to Fort Augustus but they seemed to be enjoying the thrill of the trip.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What do they know ?

The weather has been rather dull and very wet this week and I have often had to go out in the mornings in the pouring rain to fill the nut and seed feeders to keep our wildlife in the manner to which they are now accustomed. They have come to expect a varied menu and I cannot disappoint the birds and red squirrels who bother to turn up and keep us entertained. Recently we have placed a connecting branch between a nearby tree and the bird table to make life easier for ther young squirrels to access the food on the table as they kept falling off and one did actually land with a splash into the bird bath underneath. We have recently observed that the squirrels have been coming down the branch, on to the bird table and filling their mouths with nuts and then racing at great speed across the driveway to bury the nuts in the grass. What do they know ?


Monday, August 20, 2012

Roe deer in the garden

Female roe deer with their young have been grazing on the grassy front bank in the early morning and evening with their coats catching the bright sun. The female has huge ears and no antlers and is the deer portrayed as Bambi in the famous tear-jerking film. These were just opposite the front door. At other times we have seen the male with his three pointed antlers but is he usually alone.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Taking to the water of Loch Ness

Summer has finally arrived and the weather has been glorious. Loch Ness has been busy  with boating craft of various sizes , ranging from the large 'Lord of the Glens' luxury cruise ship down to brave kayakers. We've noticed many private and hired cruisers, colourful yachts and the two RIBs have been full of passengers on the trip from Fort Augustus to Urquhart Castle and back. It is good to see the loch busy in this welcome warm weather.



We took full advantage of the great weather and celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary on the beach with some cool refreshments and a paddle.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Badgers seen from Aspenwood Cottage

During their stay in a nearby cottage last week the guests were looking out of the lounge window at midnight and spotted two adult badgers with two youngsters.The badger family were snuffling around under the peanut feeders and stayed for quite a while hoovering up the food remains as they are strangely partial to peanuts. Several of their guests have been lucky enough to see the badgers shuffling about around the cottage grounds but you do have to stay up late.We know there is a very large badger sett in the forest next to the cottage and we have been lucky enough to see and film them from our neighbours house near to the cottage.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Follow up to Loch Ness Rescue

The lady who was involved in the rescue last Sunday involving the RNLI, the Fingal barge and the air ambulance helicopter was airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. Fortunately her injuries were not serious and she with husband are going today to the Loch Ness RNLI station at Drumnadrochit near Urquhart Castle to say a big thank you. They might well be shown the video of her rescue....we did email the video to the RNLI and to the Fingal and they both replied saying they were very pleased to have seen it.