Monday, April 30, 2012

Day out at Glen Affric.

Sunday dawned with a beautiful crisp clear blue sky as forecast so we packed a picnic and drove to Glen Affric via Inverness, alongside the Beauly Firth and turned off down Strathglass to the village of Cannich. From here we followed a single track road passing through amazing scenery and looking down on deep river gorges for about 8 miles to the car park at the end of Glen Affric. Had a lovely relaxing walk by the river and into one of the oldest Caledonian Forests in Scotland where we were very fortunate to see a male and female Scottish Crossbill, the only truly native species of the UK and a bird confined only to the Highlands of Scotland....our first exciting sighting of this quite elusive bird. 
The scenery all around us was just stunning with snow on the mountain tops and the River Affric was gushing along after all the recent rain. After our walk we drove back along the road for a few miles to a new picnic site we had spotted earlier and enjoyed our lunch beside a very peaceful loch. This day trip is about 55 miles from Aspenwood Cottage on Loch Ness and took us about one and a half hours to get to Glen Affric on a very pleasant run. So sit back and enjoy some of the scenes we saw.....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wildlife and weather update

We have been experiencing a very wet and windy outlook recently and the rain shows no sign of abating yet. It is however very welcome, especially in the garden, as we have not had much rain this year to speak of and the winter was very mild. Whatever the weather the wildlife still has to find food.
We have recently had visits from a couple of young deer who enjoy munching in the forest behind us.

The birds are not so prolific this month as they are very busy singing loudly and building nests in preparation for their next batch of fledglings. Any fur from the cats brush is put out of the window and is soon snatched up, usually by bold coals tits, for a lovely warm nest lining. The male sparrowhawk is zooming about and Philip the pheasant is very verbal during the day.Spotted a late evening hedhehog several times making his way to any remnants of food under the bird table and the heat from his small body set the security lights off so he was caught in mid glare just like an escaped prisoner in the films.
We were surprised to see a pine marten which suddenly appeared next to the garage but was boldly chased down the driveway by one of our cats on her night time patrol...with us keeping a careful watch on the events just in case we were needed to intervene.
The red squirrels are abundant and confidently run down the tree trunks and dash around everywhere in the garden before leaping onto the feeders or stop to have a the moment there are three dashing about the garden and chasing each other around. They are great fun to watch playing with each other and watching them grow up.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Some more residents of Edinburgh Zoo

A very good visit to Edinburgh Zoo during our break in the city. After seeing the famous pandas we strolled round and saw as many of the wild animals as we could...amazing. There were lots of new young additions and maybe some  still a twinkle in the eye.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Trip to Edinburgh

Just returned from a few days break in Edinburgh.Visited the castle on a beautiful sunny day and enjoyed many pleasant relaxing strolls round the city with some lovely meals out in the evenings.
We had previously booked online to see the new arrivals at Edinburgh Zoo...the two pandas from China. It was amazing to watch them close up as they methodically munched their way through their bamboo breakfast.There is a panda movie soon so watch this space.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Easter Greetings

The weather forecast was right and the snow came on cue at 9.30 Monday evening and  continued for most of the night. On Tuesday morning we did not have any in the area around the house but it was on the higher ground opposite and covered the mountains. During the day the temperature rose slightly and it began to melt at lower levels. Cairngorms had a good foot of snow and the ski centres were very busy. In the early evening the dark clouds vanished and the sun shone brightly in the blue sky........brilliant.
                                                                                                Happy Easter everyone.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Loch Garten Osprey Centre...they are back !

 Guests staying in Aspenwood this week are looking forward to visiting the Loch Garten Osprey Centre as the two regular ospreys, female EJ and the male Odin,  have flown all the way back from Africa to their nest in Abernethy Forest.
The Osprey Centre at Loch Garten is not far from the bustling village of Aviemore, a pleasant journey of about 45 miles from Aspenwood.
The osprey is a magnificent fish-eating bird of prey with a wingspan of approximately 150cms and about 60cms in length. They were once widespread in the UK but its numbers decreased dramatically as it was persecuted by egg collectors and hunters. In 1959, after an absence of almost 40 years, a pair nested near Loch Garten and raised three young chicks with the help of special protection from the RSPB. Since then ospreys have returned to nest at Loch Garten every year and more than 80 young have fledged successfully. The pair mate for life and always return to the same nest every year. The male arrives first during April after spending the winter in West Africa and rebuilds the nest in preparation for the female to follow a few days later. They mate and the three eggs are laid over a period of a few days and incubated for about 37 days. By late May the eggs hatch and the young ospreys grow rapidly on a diet of fish. By the middle of July the young begin to learn how to fly but remain around the nest for another month. They should have developed their flying and fishing skills by mid August and they all leave on their long migration back to West Africa.
From the Osprey Centre building you can watch these spectacular birds of prey from close quarters using binoculars, telescopes and also watch the closed circuit television screens that show live pictures from the nest. Through the windows you can clearly observe the nest perched on the very top of a tall tree and see the adult female osprey feeding the chicks with fish provided by the male bird.
On their Osprey Centre website you can follow them on the live webcam and daily blog.

This nature reserve is not only important for ospreys. The rare native pinewoods are home to some of Scotland’ s rarest wildlife including scottish crossbills, crested tits, otters, pine martens and red squirrels. You can also stroll along the various forest walks and gaze across beautiful Loch Garten.
From our house we have seen ospreys flying overhead and hovering over Loch Ness and even diving into the water so we will wait and watch with great anticipation.
Snow is forecast for this evening so we hope they have built a really snug nest.