Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chilly in the Highlands.

We have been enveloped in freezing fog for the past few days which has been blowing in from the North Sea, travelling along the Moray Firth and sweeping down the Great Glen. Temperatures during the day have stayed well below freezing with overnight temperatures of at least minus 10C in the Cairngorms. Today on the news it was stated that temps were minus 15C in the Highlands and a climber has been reported missing on Ben Nevis, but exactly why anybody would want to go out in these appalling conditions is beyond belief. Went into Inverness for a Tesco shop before Hogmanay - a bad move as it was completely manic. The good thing was the beautiful scenery as we travelled in and back.The frost was really thick on all the trees and vegetation and we felt as if we were driving through winter wonderland.
Enjoy the following slideshow of our journey.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas reflections.

 Woke up to a beautiful reflection on the loch on Christmas morning. Most of the snow on the mountains opposite has been washed away by the recent rains. As we were admiring the tranquil scene before us The Lord of the Glens cruise ship steamed right in front of our window and disturbed the reflection. It doesn't usually come this side of the loch and we realised just how big the craft is. It travelled up to Urquhart Castle where it stayed for a long while, possibly while Christmas lunch was being served. Later in the afternoon it sailed back down towards Fort William and we gave everyone on board a seasonal wave.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Loch Torr an Tuill

Managed to fit a long walk in recently after the strong winds and rain had subsided. Walked into Farigaig Forest and up the hill to Loch Torr an Tuill or 'the wee pond' as it is affectionately known by locals. The reflection of the surrounding trees in the loch was amazing and we were pleased to find two new picnic benches had been installed there. It really is a very peaceful wee loch and a beautiful place for a picnic or just a breather after the uphill climb.

Continued on our uphill walk to the view point at the very top where we found another welcome bench. The forestry had recently been at work clearing alot of the tall pine tees allowing for a much better view of Loch Ness.Through the haze we could just make out Urquhart Castle on the opposite shore.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Long tailed tits..

The colder winter weather heralds the arrival of the long tailed tits. These delightful birds are easily recognisable by their long black and white tail which is longer than their body. Their body is black and white with delicate pinkish tones with black button like eyes. They go about in noisy flocks of up to 20 birds. As we were watching the other birds gently feeding on the sunflower hearts a gang of long tailed tits suddenly flew out of the forest and descended on the fat ball hanging from the bird table until it was almost impossible to see any of the ball. After a few seconds they all zoomed off in a flurry of wings to the next feeding post.Check out more information on the long tailed tits and see them in action.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Stag Party

Been a very cold week with a sharp frost lasting for most of the day accompanied by the odd flurry of snow. We did not have the terrific snowfall on Thursday that other parts of the UK experienced. Today it has been raining all day and rather gloomy. Just when we needed cheering up a magnificent stag suddenly crossed the driveway and munched on the grass at the front of the house. Not the best of photos due to the wet and dull weather.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

St. Andrew's Day.

The temperature dropped dramatically on Friday. Snow fell overnight on higher ground and there was a sharp frost everywhere at lower levels which is expected to last well into next week. In the afternoon I walked carefully down to the loch-side beach and felt as if I was in a picture postcard. All the pebbles and leaves were fused together with the frost making it rather slippery underfoot. Hadn't been there long when our guests staying in Aspenwood Cottage arrived on the beach with Ben the dog. They had just returned from walking to the Falls of Foyers and back and were now looking forward to a warming cup of coffee from their flask in their rucksack.

Today is St Andrews Day - the patron saint of Scotland -and it has been well below zero all day with a slight snowfall this evening. More snow is forecast for Thursday which will please our guests arriving next Saturday who have ordered snow for their holiday...anything to please !

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New Hosts at Dores Inn.

 After reading the article below we decided to check out the Dores Inn to see if it was good enough to recommend to our guests......things we have to do !
'New mine hosts at Dores Inn promise fine local food.
Press & Journal: Published: 12/11/2008
A HIGHLAND couple whose restaurant at a wildlife haven has built a reputation for fine local food will spread their wings next week by opening the doors of their latest venture on the banks of Loch Ness. Farmer Quintin Stevens and his wife Michelle, who have run the Storehouse of Foulis visitor attraction at Evanton on the Cromarty Firth for three and a half years, have just renovated the Dores Inn.
As part of extensive refurbishment, they have fitted a new kitchen, dining area and cellar, and opened up the pub restaurant to allow views of the loch.
Mr Stevens said..It is an amazing location and we felt the south side of Inverness was lacking good eateries. What better place to be than plumb on the end of Loch Ness. We wanted to recreate a traditional pub with the emphasis on food, beer and wine, which I think there is a lack of in the area. We have recreated the menu with the emphasis on local food.
Former host and ex-Highland councillor Ella MacRae called time on the inn earlier this year, ending a half-century link with the place she first worked at as a waitress at the age of 15. The popular venue has become a firm fixture of music lovers who flood into the village for the annual RockNess festival. If all goes to plan the Stevens intention is to reopen the inn for business a week today.'
The Dores Inn is positioned at the eastern end of Loch Ness with commanding views and looking onto a wonderful crescent beach - ideal for a stroll before or after eating.
We found the staff very friendly and wearing attractive uniforms. The new manageress is excellent, really making you feel welcome combined with a vast experience of the hospitality trade and knowledge of food and wines. It now serves food all day - from morning coffee and cakes to lunch, afternoon teas and an evening meal. We were very impressed with the menu, the variety of food and 'specials of the day' which made actually choosing our meals rather difficult - we kept changing our minds. The food was wholesome and delicious, the atmosphere was relaxing and the staff were very attentive. There was a choice of fresh home made desserts or large slices of chocolate or lemon drizzle cake which went down a treat. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch and are so pleased to be able to recommend The Dores Inn to our guests and also to have somewhere pleasant and local to dine at ourselves.

November sunset on Loch Ness.

 Watched the sun setting on Loch Ness yesterday at 3.30 in the afternoon - spectacular.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

That was the week that was.

A real start to the week with strong winds and driving rain. Quite a few trawlers chose to use the Great Glen route to avoid the choppy Pentland Firth and several ferry routes to the islands were cancelled due to the high winds. The Loch Ness Lifeboat has been seen out on training exercises. We were quite surprised to see 'The Lord of the Glens' cruise liner travel along Loch Ness towards Fort William. It glided silently past in the dusk of the late afternoon with a light shining from the front mast.
The wildlife has been abundant in the colder weather. The red squirrels have been daily feeders on the nuts.

In the morning the various birds wait in the nearby trees for their breakfast menu to appear and the tiny, but bold, coal tits fly round the table impatiently as I put out their favourite sunflower hearts. Male and female pheasants have been sauntering up the driveway and then hop over the small fence and disappear down the bank. Deer have suddenly emerged out of the bracken in the surrounding forest and munch on the leaves of the blueberry bushes.
Had snow flurries yesterday for most of the day and we woke up this morning to find it had laid on the high ground opposite. More is forecast for today all over the country with temperatures well below freezing tonight. Definite log fire and a few warming drams called for.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Long Tailed Tits are back in the garden.

 The distinctive sound of a flock of long tailed tits calling to each other was heard well before they appeared out of the trees and fluttered between the nut feeders and fat balls. They are easily recognisable by their small round pinkish tinged body and a very narrow long black and white edged tail, the longest tail of any British bird in proportion to its body. They did not stay for long and soon zoomed off to their next destination.
See them in action.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


 A colourful goldfinch visited the nut feeder on the fence at Aspenwood on Saurday morning...a welcome sight as we do not see many of these although they are now becoming more common as garden birds. There are several bird books as well as a pair of binoculars in the cottage for guests to use to get a closer look at the various bird life that visit the table and feeders and bird bath. The goldfinch had a good feed and totally ignored the numerous playful red squirrels chasing each other along the fence and feeding on the adjacent feeder. The collective noun for goldfinches is a charm...what else could it be ? Another cheeky squirrel really enjoyed the peanuts that were scattered on the ground by the side of the bird bath.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Seaside resort of Nairn.

 Drove a pleasant 30 miles to the seaside resort of Nairn. Parked the car near to the beach, wrapped up warm and enjoyed a walk along the footpath to the harbour where most of the boating craft are now safely moored for the winter. Cut through the sand dunes and had a more exhilarating stroll back along the beach listening to the seagulls and the waves crashing on the shore, an ideal place for dog lovers. Strange to see so many colourful autumn leaves amongst the seaweed on the sands.
Sit back, enjoy the movie and pretend you are on your holiday.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Trip to Pitlochry.

 Went for a day trip to Pitlochry-about 100 miles down the A9-to MacDonald the Butcher's to fill up the freezer for winter. As we drove through the edge of the Cairngorm National Park the snow became more prominent on the mountain tops. The Cairngorm ski season has opened one month earlier this year because of the heavy snowfall on the mountains during late October.
After a stroll down the high street and a look in most of the shop windows,several of which were adorned with christmas decorations,we left our order with the butcher and went away to have lunch. Drove to our secret location up the hill behind Pitlochry village along the colourful autumn lanes.

 Enjoyed a picnic on the bench by the pond gazing at the wonderful reflections and watching the ducks and cygnets which have grown since we last saw them in May.

After collecting our meat order from the butcher we had a leisurely drive back home and looked forward to Aberdeen Angus roast beef.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Chill out at Chanonry Point.

Went with great expectations and a packed lunch to Chanonry Point on The Black Isle in the hope of seeing the Moray Firth dolphins. Checked the time of the high tide and got in position on the beach about one hour beforehand and waited excitedly.The crowd gathered and we all froze together..it must have only been about 2 or 3 degrees with a biting cold wind blowing in along the Moray Firth from the North Sea. A few sightings of the odd fin and nose but not enough for any photos. We did get talking to a fellow watcher who had come all the way from Edinburgh in the hope of seeing them, as her son sponsers one called Sundance. Fortunately for us we can easily come to Chanonry Point any time we fancy a break with the chance of seeing the dolphins.
On the drive back home we spotted a red kite gliding above us. These have recently been reintroduced onto the Isle and have been breeding successfully. Stopped at Dores for a view down the Great Glen....beautiful with the snow still on tops. Back at home we found five female pheasants on the rockery, a cheeky red squirrel on the bird table and later in the dusk of the evening we were visited by a young stag and hind...what a lovely place to live whatever the weather.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tourist group meeting

Drove over to The Whitebridge Hotel for a meeting of the South Loch Ness Tourist Group. A very good turnout of members at the meeting with a lively discussion covering various topics followed by a warming lunch. The snow is still laying quite thickly amongst the autumn colours and clearly silhouetting the stag and his hinds in the nearby fields. The scenery was spectacular and we all agreed that this is an amazing place to live and, more importantly, for people to visit.
Enjoy the slideshow...........

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


After a very cold night and a sky full of stars we woke to clear blue skies and snow laying all around the house. Went up to Aspenwood and found the guests had ventured out to enjoy the picturesque scenery. The cottage always seems to sit cosily in Farigaig Forest overlooked by the dramatic mountains opposite.
The numerous red squirrels are still regular visitors to all the nut feeders and hopefully they will continue to appear throughout the winter as they do not hibernate. Last Saturday we saw some squirrels digging in the grass behind the cottage and realised they had buried some nuts to enjoy later.The Nut Fund is going very well thanks to all guests who have 'bookmarked a squirrel'.
As I look down the loch towards Inverness a wall of white is heading this way and Urquhart Castle is disappearing in the approaching snow - beautiful.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 27, 2008

Snow on tops.

The first heavy snowfall of the year fell overnight on ground above 1000 feet. We woke up to see the mountains opposite covered in snow. The forecast for tomorrow is for a chilly northerly wind with snow showers during the day laying at lower levels.......watch this space.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


 The characteristic ear tufts of the native red squirrels are becoming more prominent as winter approaches. They moult their tufts once a year in late summer and grow them again in preparation for the cold weather. Unlike the grey squirrels the reds do not hibernate and so we will be keeping all nut feeders full throughout the cold winter months when the pine cones and hazel nuts have disappeared from the trees in the surrounding forest. The squirrels are still very much in abundance around the cottage and it is very amusing to watch their antics.

Friday, October 17, 2008

River Oich walk

Yesterday was a fine crisp dry day so we decided to make the most of it and have a walk in Jenkins Park on the outskirts of Fort Augustus. We drove over the Struie and then downhill passing Loch Tarff on our right. On the TV the other evening there was a replay of the film 'Local Hero' set in Scotland. In one of the early scenes the two American oil guys had to park up because of the dense mist. In the morning the mist cleared and Loch Tarff was in front of them. The stroll in the Jenkins Park forest at Fort Augustus was very refreshing, peaceful and colourful, about 4 miles at a very leisurely pace. Part of the walk is beside the River Oich which is always beautiful and relaxing. Just before we reached home we noticed two cormorants on the small boat jetty parallel with Inverfarigaig Pier no doubt stopping for a well earned breather.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Stag near Aspenwood

Guests staying in Aspenwood Cottage last week were walking casually up the driveway when they noticed a large stag on the path ahead. It was standing quite still and staring at the two strangers approaching. Steve realised he had not got his trusty camera with him and, although very excited, he managed to keep his cool and slowly turned round and went back to the cottage for the equipment.When he returned the stag had not moved a muscle and thus the evidence was produced.Only when Steve and Barbara tried to get even closer did the stag turn tail and run off into Farigaig Forest. Thanks for sharing your photos.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lifeboat rescue on Loch Ness.

Lifeboat on exercise finds family of five and pet dog stranded on loch.

Loch Ness RNLI lifeboat team, on a training session this morning, discovered a motor cruiser aground in Urquhart Bay, Drumnadrochit, shortly after 8am. The group of Welsh tourists and pet dog "Chadwick" had been stuck fast since last night.
The family had felt safe enough to wait out the night in the bay and deal with the problem after a good night's sleep.

The RNLI Loch Ness team were training in the area and noticed the rented vessel was in an unsafe position. An RNLI volunteer crew member, Howie Whyte, was transferred to the cruiser "Teal" and found all to be fit and well. A tow was established and the vessel was pulled free. The cruiser appeared to be watertight and not to have suffered any serious damage so was able to continue on it's journey.
Aberdeen Coastguard had been informed of the situation and acted as a coordinating authority.
Howie Whyte, Loch Ness RNLI Crewman and local Crofter says "The family appeared in good spirits and were very relieved to see the lifeboat "Mercurius"and it's crew".

Kindest regards
Martin Douglas
Crew Member/Lifeboat Press Officer
Loch Ness Lifeboat

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Nature's colours.

As we were enjoying breakfast Saturday morning before going up to Aspenwood the weather suddenly started to get very windy. The trees at the front were swaying dramatically in the strong westerly wind blowing up The Great Glen and Loch Ness became quite choppy with white water bouncing off the crests of the waves. The spray of the water caused a rainbow to form which was an extremely colourful start to the day.The weather during the day was pleasantly warm but quite breezy and it just got better as the afternoon wore on.The washing dried on the line as we sat outside waiting for our new guests to arrive.In the evening there was an amazing sunset and we could imagine our guests sitting out on the decking with a glass of something refreshing and watching the colourful performance in the sky down to Inverness was tinged with different shades of pink and the opposite view to Fort Augustus had a yellow tint reflecting the sun as it finally disappeared behind the mountains opposite.
It was quite beautiful and just like sitting inside a painting.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Local Heroes on Loch Ness

Press report from the Loch Ness RNLI Lifeboat...14th September 2008
Local Heroes on Loch Ness. Two off duty Lifeguards came to the rescue of a 21 year old woman who suffered a suspected spinal injury in a water ski accident on Loch Ness this afternoon . Loch Ness RNLI Lifeboat team launched and arrived on scene with an RAF rescue helicopter from Lossiemouth.

The original incident was witnessed by the off-duty Lifeguards, Laura Munro and Mhairi Burns, who quickly recognised the need to immobilise the injured woman until emergency teams arrived.
The three people in the water were sheltered by the quick thinking skipper of the fishing boat "Asbo".

Ross Edwards, RNLI Loch Ness volunteer Helm, says.
"The two off-duty lifeguards and the skipper of the fishing boat did a magnificent job in providing vital stability and reassurance to the young woman." "The crews of the Jacobite tourist boats, understanding the seriousness of the incident, kept their boats at an absolute crawl, minimising the possibility of their wake disturbing the casualty, a highly commendable action."
The young woman was placed in a Spinal Board by the lifeguards and RAF Winchman, Mark Dean and the Loch Ness RNLI crew, Howie Whyte and Vivian Bailey. She was then airlifted to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for further assessment and treatment.

RNLI volunteer crewman, Howie Whyte heard about the incident when he was taking tourist passengers on a trip on the loch. He immediately brought the boat, "Nessie Hunter" back into harbour and ran to the lifeboat station. His surprised but supportive passengers were taken care of and given a complimentary trip out on the research vessel "Deepscan" skippered by John Minshull. This arrangement is typical of all loch users and boat owners keen to support the RNLI and the work of its volunteer crews.

The Loch Ness RNLI team give their sincerest thanks to all the people involved in today's incident.

Loch Ness RNLI lifeboat station has been operating since April 2008.
Loch Ness is Scotland's only Inland Lifeboat
To learn more about the lifeboat station go to
Loch Ness RNLI website

Guests staying in Aspenwood this week happened to be at Dores on Sunday and witnessed the unfortunate incident.

Monday, September 15, 2008


 We have recently had regular visits from a new young squirrel with a noticeable lovely blonde bushy tail, not the usual dark red variety....hence the nickname Blondie. She also has striking ear tufts which they apparently moult once a year in late autumn and they moult their coat twice a year.... read more interesting squirrel facts. After a quick drink from the rain water left on the garden bench she goes off in search of food at one of the nut feeders. She also amazingly climbs up onto the bird table using her sharp claws and is rather partial to a little bread and cheese. Caught in the act here!
We realise that there is another drey, apart from the one near Aspenwood, in the woods beyond our garage. We watch her acrobatically descend from the table and scamper off to the woods which are full of delicious hazel trees...squirrel heaven.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Walk in Torr Woods.

 A very pleasant warm breezy day with temperatures of about 19C so decided to go for a walk along Dores beach and into Torr Woods. Lots of white water on Loch Ness today - quite different to the other day when it was quite calm and still. It was very warm but very windy with a good strong breeze whistling down The Great Glen and causing the waves to crash onto the beach kicking up alot of spray. Enjoyed a pleasant stroll through Torr Woods passing the marina and the village of Loch End on the opposite shore. We kept an eye out for any colourful fungi emerging through the forest floor but not much to be seen-maybe we were too early or the lack of sustained rain has held back growth for a while. However we did spot a Red Admiral Butterfly resting on the ground with wings extended to catch the sun...a much better sight than a mushroom !

Monday, September 08, 2008

Loch Ness from Dores beach.

After a chilly night we woke up to a clear blue sky. Went into the city of Inverness this morning on business and found the city still very busy. On our return journey we couldn't resist pulling in and parking by Loch Ness beach at Dores village. The view down to Fort Augustus enveloped on either side by mountains was amazing. We enjoyed a casual stroll along the crescent shaped shingle beach.Click here for more Ness facts and for the full journey around Loch Ness.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

September sun.

The weather has not been as wet and gloomy as predicted on the weather forecasts. Chilly nights have been followed by rather dull early mornings with a thick haar mist coming along The Great Glen but by lunch time it usually brightens up. Boats of all sizes have been using the water of Loch Ness. Some for business and some just enjoying life and messing about on the water.

The Loch Ness Lifeboat has been out on training exercises. It is a very important craft and is the only inshore lifeboat in Scotland. It covers a vast stretch of water as Loch Ness is 23 miles long and extremely deep in places.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunrise and sunset.

 Woke up the other morning to a bright sky and noticed the early morning sun light striking the mountain opposite, turning it into a brilliant red slope. The sight of the blue sky made a welcoming change to the dull overcast skies we have been experiencing lately. Actually managed to get some gardening done and as I was filling up the nut feeders Cyril the red squirrel suddenly appeared running down the tree trunk behind me. He spat at me and flicked his tail in a warning sign before tucking into his breakfast...that's the thanks I get.
Made the most of the balmy weather and went for a drive over the mountains. We were pleasantly surprised to see the heather starting to bloom a little earlier than usual on the hillsides...always a colourful sight.
After dinner we walked down to the beach and strolled along the shore line of Loch Ness. It was still pleasantly warm at 9.30pm. We sat outside with a wee dram and toasted the sunset....Cheers!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Farigaig Forest Walk.

We have recently added a new laminated walk to our Walks Folder in the cottage .... 'Walk from Aspenwood Cottage through Farigaig Forest'. Have been meaning to do this for ages as it is the pleasant circular walk we often take from our own doorstep. It is the walk along the forest track in front of our house parallel with the shore of Loch Ness, up to the lane for a short while and then turning into Farigaig Forest via Easter Boleskine House. At the house turn round and there are splendid views looking down Loch Ness towards Fort Augustus and beyond. As we walked we recorded things to look out for, took photos and roughly measured the time it took - about an hour and a half at a very leisurely pace. It is now in a laminated cover and available for guests to take out on their stroll.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

'Lord of the Glens'

The weather this past week has been quite gloomy with a low cloud base, showery, murky and generally miserable. Today it is pouring with rain and I can just see across to the other side of the loch where 'The Fingal' activity barge is progressing slowly back through the mist heading for Inverness. The weather doesn't seem to deter the hardy sailors out onto Loch Ness and several yachts and cruisers have braved the elements. Sunshine is promised for tomorrow ! The cruise liner 'Lord of the Glens' has been busy taking passengers from Inverness through the lochs of the Great Glen down to Fort William and beyond to the islands.
During a break in the wet weather the wildlife can be seen. The brown mountain hare has been spotted on the driveway eating the grass on the side verge. The two year old male deer has emerged from the forest on his own for the first time. His velvet antlers are nearly one foot tall now and he looks very healthy and in his prime. No sign of any female deer with offspring yet.
The bird life is abundant and the predatory sparrowhawk has been zooming about hoping to catch his lunch on the wing but usually goes away hungry. The young red squirrels have been keeping us amused as they chase each other in circles around the tree trunks. Had four of them in the garden yesterday and for a long time two of them were performing synchronised nut feeding - I think they deserve a gold medal at least !

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Red squirrel heaven.

Numerous red squirrels are still regular visitors to the nut feeders hanging on the fence outside the lounge at the cottage. They have even enlarged a hole near the base of one of the feeders to make for easier access to the nuts. You can really see them at close hand - about two metres away from the window and observe their very delicate but extremely sharp claws. These are very useful for hanging upside down if needs be.

Watched one feeding frantically as we stood on the decking on Saturday....great fun to watch.

Friday, August 15, 2008


Yesterday we celebrated our 37th wedding anniversary. The sun shone as arranged and we were able to sit outside and enjoy a glass or three of bubbly. Cooked a lovely meal together and really enjoyed the day-eating, drinking and generally being lazy. Woke up this morning to a very different sort of day. A low mist hung over the loch and it rained on and off throughout the day....not a day for sitting outside and enjoying oneself so back to work !

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pine marten comes to visit.

Sitting comfortably in our lounge last night absorbed in a TV programme when we heard a scratching at the patio door. Thought it was one of the cats demanding to be let in and got up to be the doorman but.....surprise surprise.....saw it was a young pine marten on the top step. Our guests last week said they saw the elusive pine marten on the bank behind Aspenwood Cottage and were thrilled. We followed it from room to room it as it ran playfully around the outside of the house exploring every nook and cranny and watched as it even cheekily sat on top of the cats kennel right by the back door - luckily the cat flap was locked for the night. Both cats were fast asleep on the sofa and oblivious to all the excitement going on outside. Luckily pine martens prefer easier targets and much smaller prey...mice,voles and even red squirrels so the cats would have given it a hiss, a spit and a growl and seen it on its way. It was moving too quickly to take a photo this time but here's one I prepared earlier.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fingal Barge in Dores Bay.

The weather in the Highlands has been quite bright and warm this week with the occasional shower and often overnight rain . We hear on the news that Edinburgh and Glasgow and recently Fife has experienced bad rain of late but we have been blessed with fair weather conditions....Loch Ness has worked its magic! Went for a stroll along Dores beach and watched the Fingal Barge glide silently down Loch Ness and dock in Dores Bay.

 It is a very popular vehicle offering a wide range of activities and is a frequent visitor along the loch. As we were driving to Dores we passed a group of canoeists on the water, no doubt making their way to the Fingal to be collected for the next part of their adventure. There are endless organised activities to enjoy once aboard the barge "Fingal of Caledonia". Disembark along the journey and enjoy walking, mountain biking, cycling, sailing, canoeing and wind surfing.
I feel quite tired just typing this out....must go for a lie down.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Baby Robins.

The young robins that fledged in June/July are in various stages of attaining their adult plumage. By late summer they should have acquired their characteristic red breast and begin to noisily dispute their territories. In 1961 they were chosen as Britain's national bird.

Monday, August 04, 2008

On the fence.

The lilac buddleia bush beyond the fence by the cottage decking has burst into life. It is also known as the 'butterfly bush' although it has not been attracting many butterflies this year. Further along the fence at the nut feeders the red squirrels eat,drink,scratch and generally enjoy life.
The weather over the weekend was warm and breezy with the odd refreshing shower which enticed more colourful yachts and cruisers onto Loch Ness.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Cyril the squirrel.

After a very warm humid week we had refreshing overnight rain which pleased all the plants in the garden. Today is about 15C with a very low cloud base...unable to see Urquhart Castle on the opposite shore through the mist.Showers throughout the morning and the cats are having a 'sleep in'. Whatever the weather the wildlife has to be fed. Cyril the squirrel is a constant visitor to the nut feeders during the day and chases off any other potential diners to his personal 'restaurant'.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Glorious weather..

Been enjoying the summer sun of late....24C today with a refreshing easterly sea breeze.Boating life in abundance and we sat out last evening watching the sunset over Loch Ness with a wee dram.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sunrise Surprise.

Maisie the mouser decided she wanted to go out on 'vermin control' at 5 a.m. this morning but I was pleasantly jolted out of my half sleepy state at the sight of a beautiful sunrise over Loch Ness. The weather has been very good this week. The gloomy cloud base of late has finally lifted revealing refreshing blue sky and we have been experiencing the welcoming warmth of Summer at last. Lots of boating craft have been out on the water.The baby birds are flourishing and quickly devour everything on the bird table,in the nut feeders and the berries in the bushes.
The young red squirrels have been chasing each other through the trees like acrobats and are regular visitors to the nut feeders. Heard several deer eerily calling from across the loch this morning. We haven't had any deer near the house lately so possibly we may see a mother with her offspring soon. A large brown hare bounded up our driveway today - I thought at first it was a small dog.It munched on the grass and then sped off down the track to the wee beach....it's all go here!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Squirrel lunches at Aspenwood.

Saturday as we were cleaning the cottage we looked out of the lounge window and noticed Cyril the squirrel helping himself to the nuts from the bird feeders.He stayed for about twenty minutes,delicately removing the outer husks and then chomping on the nuts inside.After a drink at the bird bath he scampered back into the forest at the side of Aspenwood....a magical sight.

Friday, July 18, 2008


This year the wild honeysuckle is really growing in profusion. The plants can be seen everywhere, delicately winding their tendrils in the hedgerows and around the branches of trees. They produce a riot of colour and emit beautiful fragrant scents into the air.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

New Red Squirrel video......

A family of a mother and her young 3 red squirrel 'kittens' have been regular visitors to the nut feeders here and at Aspenwood Cottage for the last few weeks...even saw one of them this evening on the nut feeders as we were welcoming our new guests into the cottage and they were thrilled. We have never seen so many red squirrels in the local area as we have in 2008 and they are now regular visitors to the nut feeders every morning... still can't stop being captivated by their cheeky antics.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Day trip to Edinburgh.

Yesterday we planned a day trip to Edinburgh-about 160 miles away-for a city 'fix' so we were up bright and early at 6.30 a.m. in broad daylight and set off on a clear dry day.On the first part of the journey from here to Daviot we saw red squirrels dash across the road,deer quietly grazing, several large brown hares, a buzzard on a fence post and rabbits and pheasants going about their daily business. At Daviot we joined the main A9 heading south and the traffic was surprisingly very light. After a stop at The House of Bruar near Blair Atholl for a much needed coffee we drove on by-passing Pitlochry, Dunkeld and Perth. Here we joined the M90 and the volume of traffic began to increase as did the noise and smell .After a journey of about three and a half hours we crossed over the Firth of Forth on the very busy Forth Road suspension bridge.
This was only opened in 1964 and until then any transport had to use the ferries between North and South Queensferry. Parallel to the road bridge is the famous cantilever Railway Bridge which was opened back in 1890. After crossing over the bridge we were on the outskirts of the city of Edinburgh and eventually managed to park, walk around and have a lunch.It was extremely busy as expected as it is Scotland's capital city and we were quite glad to be on the road heading back home to the peace and quiet of the Highlands. A good day out but glad to be back surrounded by mountains,lochs and wildlife.

Monday, July 07, 2008

New visitor in the garden.

Looking casually out of the window I had a double-take when something suddenly moved among the garden ornaments.This new creature with distinctive creamy white underparts had perfect camouflage hiding between the fake squirrels. It darted about among the ornaments possibly attracted by the scraps of food under the bird table and looking for anything else interesting on the menu.We looked up all the wildlife books and think it's either a stoat or a weasel....possibly the weasel as it did not have a black tip to the tail and was about 30cms long in total....any ideas out there? Would welcome any comments on this new visitor in the garden. Sure it is a wee weasel now.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Messing about on Loch Ness.

Looking at the weather forecast for this past week we saw lots of blue rain approaching on the map and a wet gloomy time ahead for Scotland and Loch Ness. Is it really July ?
Once again the weather 'specialists' got it all wrong and we have experienced a good week. Started off cloudy and showery then we had brighter and breezy days, followed by sunny warm days. A variety of boating craft of all different shapes and sizes came out to enjoy the water of Loch Ness and the lovely fresh air and we enjoyed watching them as we sat outside in the sun.

Today we celebrate the cats birthday and Independence Day.Cheers. Enjoy the video.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Just hanging around.....

The red squirrels can be very acrobatic and entertaining in their quest for food and are often seen on the nut feeders in the early morning.
They have rather short front legs but long hind legs which are a great aid for leaping about among the branches and away from any danger. They also have amazing sharp claws which can be extremely useful when hanging almost upside down as this cheeky one demonstrates.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Watch the birdie.

Lots of bird activity in the garden this week - with the usual arrivals of siskins, chaffinches, robins, dunnocks, blackbirds and most members of the tit family. Our first baby robins have been spotted on the bird table and a collared dove came to sit on the roof of the bird house. The great spotted woodpecker has landed on the nuts very fleetingly and the hungry sparrowhawk has been zooming around and scattering all the bird life for hours.
We have seen two quite rare visitors. The first was a pair of brightly coloured bullfinches flitting about on the shrubbery and eating the young blueberries.

Yesterday afternoon we spotted the magnificent osprey hovering over Loch Ness right in front of the house. Unfortunately it was quickly attacked by a family of hooded crows who are nesting nearby. Even though it was much bigger it conceded to the rowdy gang and flew away.
On both occasions I had to be very quick with the camera and only had time to take one photo. Hopefully there will be many more sightings and I shall be ready.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Woodland creatures

Red squirrels are frequent visitors to the nut feeders both here and at Aspenwood Cottage. Guests have watched one sitting on the fence and carefully taking nuts out of the feeders washed down with a drink from the bird bath.It has been a very good year for red squirrels. They must have bred well last year as well as having access to a local plentiful food supply. The resident deer and offspring often appear outside Aspenwood especially on the grassy bank at the rear of the cottage. She could possibly be pregnant with this years offspring.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hare of the cat !

Our black cat Maisie was sitting quietly looking out of the window at the hectic bird life and deciding whether to make the effort or not when she started growling at something down the bottom of the driveway. Nobody was walking along the path but on closer inspection with binoculars there was a large brown hare having his grassy breakfast at the top of the path leading down to the beach on Loch Ness. The slightest noise spooked him and he was soon up and running along the front path.

When our other cat Daisy didn't appear as usual for her breakfast we were concerned as eating is her main hobby. After a couple of hours we were very worried so Maisie and I walked along to the white cottages and back, me calling her name and Maisie crying very loudly-I'm sure she knew her sister was missing. Something worked because Daisy suddenly appeared out of the wet undergrowth and we all ran back home....crisis over. After a double breakfast and a game they are now both fast asleep and very happy to be together.