Monday, June 29, 2009

Pheasant chicks.

Mother pheasant has been a regular visitor proudly showing off her chicks as they eat under the bird table. There were originally 11 of them but at the last count this morning there were still 8 left alive and very frisky. Mother is very watchful of them and clucks quietly to round them all up while they give off high pitched squeaks. Needless to say father is nowhere in sight and one of two of them are real independent little souls and she has to patiently go after them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sunset over Loch Ness.

 Sat outside with our guests yesterday evening with a glass or three of wine and watched the sun setting over the loch....say no more !!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Musical chairs...

The weather has been glorious lately with temperatures of about 23C and the promise of a continuing warm week. A bit of sea mist over Loch Ness in the early morning gives way to blue skies for the rest of the day. Went up to meet our guests on Saturday evening and we enjoyed sitting outside with a glass of wine at the new picnic bench and having a chat.

The old table is now by the rotary washing line and may be useful while hanging out any washing. The long bench has been moved to a cool spot under Aspenwood Cottage decking just a few feet away from the nut feeders. This will be extremely useful for close up photographs of the many birds and red squirrels who visit the feeders regularly during the day.We have taken some of the old garden furniture away from the cottage and placed the 2 chairs on the beach for worn out walkers to collapse into and eat their lunch in some comfort while admiring the fantastic view. We shall also be able to relax in them of an evening and watch the sunsetting over the mountains opposite. Also be useful for me to sit in and offer words of encouragement, and a whisky, to Ray when he is in a fishing mood.
We have also treated ourselves to some new garden furniture and placed our old bench at the top of the track which leads down to the beach. We often see walkers stopping at the top of the track studying their maps and being very hesitant about going down the track. This is a great shame as they miss out on a visit to one of the few secluded beaches around the loch. We have put a sign on the back of the bench advising them to rest here before dipping their toes in the cool waters of Loch Ness.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Where have all the sunflowers gone?

Every morning lately we are greeted with the high pitched squeaking noise of a swarm of siskin finches waiting for the sunflower heart feeders to be topped up. They wait noisily in the nearby trees until I replenish the feeders and then they attach themselves for dear life to the roundabout nearly biting my hand off in the process. The rather scraggy speckled youngsters make the highest pitched noise. We've had to buy another feeder as our regular popular visitor is Cyril the squirrel who scares the birds away by his sheer size and acrobatic skills.

We have a stream of squirrels visit during the day but they all go by the name of Cyril. In winter the coat is thick and red and it has a very bushy tail and long ear tufts. Now in Summer their coat is turning lighter in colour ready for the warmer weather and the ear tufts are smaller and pale. We can identify the different squirrels by their ear tufts as some have got a few whispy hairs remaining on their ears. The squirrels are very impatient and will try the nut feeders as well as the bird table for anything else to eat until the catering service is open for business.
Fascinating red squirrel facts.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Britannia and balloons.

While we were down in Edinburgh last week we took a taxi to Edinburgh's historic port of Leith for a tour of The Royal Yacht Britannia. This magnificent vessel was launched in 1953 and served the Queen for 44 years taking the Royal family on 968 official voyages all around the world. On 11th December 1997 the Britannia was decommissioned at Portsmouth naval base and was permanently moored at Leith to be maintained as a 5-star visitor attraction. For the tour around the vessel we were given individual handsets and directed to various stopping stations where we would learn about the room indicated.

Our favourite room was large The State Dining Room. Here the Royal family would have wined and dined most of the Heads of State of various countries over the years. The table can seat 96 people and can be hired today for special occasions and events. All the food served on board the Britannia is local Scottish produce and freshly prepared by a team of chefs in the rather small but efficiently run Royal Galley. The rooms of the crew were below decks and not quite so spacious to say the least.
In contrast to this rather tranquil location we were walking down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh the next day when we heard a cacophony of noise coming down the road from Edinburgh Castle. At first we thought the police outriders were escorting a very important 'big cheese' until we saw and heard all the taxi drivers in a very noisy procession. On asking we were told that most of the taxi drivers in Edinburgh give up a whole day every year to take handicapped and needy children round the streets of Edinburgh for a fun ride armed with water pistols and then on to a beach with a picnic. Turn up the sound - but not if you are in the office and supposed to be working !

Monday, June 15, 2009

Trip to Edinburgh.

Just returned from a short break in Edinburgh. Weather was great and we enjoyed walking round the city admiring the architecture with a bit of retail therapy thrown in. Went on an open top bus tour to rest the feet after strolling down The Royal Mile from the to follow later in the week. They are still working on installing the tram track in the middle of Princes Street but it should be marvellous when completed in a couple of years time. Enjoyed lovely long lunches at Bar Roma and then walked them off by ambling in the gardens where crowds were sunbathing on the grass. A bit overcome by all the people and traffic and a short break was enough for us. Glad to be back in the land of red squirrels and quiet mountains.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Great spotted woodpecker

The male Great spotted woodpecker has been a frequent visitor to the nut feeders cramming its beak full of food before taking it back to the nest somewhere nearby in Farigaig Forest. Only realised just how large it is compared to the smaller female siskin feeding nearby.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Bullfinches at Aspenwood.

On Saturday at Aspenwood we suddenly saw the unmistakable brilliant flash of a bullfinch by the car port. He was soon joined by a female and was very protective of his partner, even fiercely chasing off another admirer before returning to her side and watching over her. We watched fascinated as they collected feathers from the dandelions for their nest.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Lunch at 'Contrast'

Enjoyed a second visit to the 'Contrast' restaurant situated on Ness Bank on the River Ness in Inverness.Weather not so good today so nobody at the outside tables although last time we visited it was quite busy. This restaurant serves a very good lunch and is part of the Glenmoriston House Hotel which also encompasses the 'Abstract' restaurant adjacent-evening meals only. It has large windows looking onto the River Ness ensuring a light and airy atmosphere. The service is friendly and the choice of dishes is very tempting. We both chose the Highland Red Deer Fillet and it was absolutely delicious. As it is opposite the Eden Court Theatre they also do a pre-theatre meal from 5-6.30. Worth a visit.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

To the beach....

Really hot weekend so went down to the nearby beach to splash about in Loch Ness and cool off. The water was freezing but very refreshing. Forgot to take a towel but dried off in a few minutes in the heat. We have ordered some new garden furniture for Aspenwood so intend to put some of the old chairs down on the beach. They will be very useful - not just for us to sit on but also for the many worn out walkers we see go down to the beach. We feel that a chair will be more comfortable than a hard rock. Thankfully it is much cooler today.