Thursday, May 27, 2010

Red squirrels aplenty.

The native red squirrels are now regular visitors to Aspenwood and enjoy scampering along the new fence from Farigaig forest to the nut feeders where they will stay for some time unless they are disturbed. They can be seen at very close quarters from the comfort of the lounge through the large panoramic window. They have amazing claws - just perfect for the job. Guests often send us their photos....thanks to Ron and Irene for the above.
They also make the journey down to our garden to see what is on the menu and they are spoilt rotten. We were worried about them during the harsh winter but they have survived and are great fun to watch especially when the young are playing around together. These 3 youngsters would have been born in late March or early April and a second litter could be born in September if there is a good food source - which of course there always is. They must have been from the same family as they were very comfortable with each other and appeared from under the bushes one after the other to our surprise and delight.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

World record on Loch Ness

Last week a 28-strong group of Asda employees from stores throughout the UK completed the 21 mile paddle along the length of Loch Ness in just 5 hours and 19 minutes claiming a world record for this event.Their feat means they have raised a sizeable amount of money for the Tickled Pink initiative supporting breast cancer. They started at 7am and crossed the finishing line at Dores beach just after noon....we were tired out just watching them!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Red sails in the sunset.....

The weather has been very fair all week with temperatures of about 20C accompanied by a lovely warming breeze which has encouraged more boating life of all shapes and sizes onto Loch Ness.
We have been thoroughly enjoying sitting outside at the end of the day with a glass or two beside the tubs of winter pansies that are still flowering profusely. Due to the lack of rain they do have to be watered regularly but they do keep the busy bees occupied. The other evening there was a magnificent sunset and we watched fascinated as the sky just got redder and redder until even the water was blood red.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wildlife seen yesterday...

There is an amazing variety of wildlife in the local vicinity and yesterday we made a mental note of all we saw just in one day.
Of course the birds are constant callers to all the various feeders in the open garden area but the young plump siskins do not know of any dangers so sit quite innocently on the ground. The red squirrels are now regular visitors under the bird feeders where we leave them a special stash of peanuts and sunflower hearts placed near the bushes. The great spotted woodpecker arrived on the bird table and flew off with the remains of our breakfast croissant which was quite unusual as he normally would be attached to a nut feeder or suet ball so he must have been sent to find any food for the nest. We heard the cuckoo across the loch and saw a few early swallows skimming over the water for the first time this year. On the journey to Daviot we spotted a red kite overhead with its trademark forked tail and saw a buzzard sitting on a fence post beside the road watching intently for the next possible tasty morsel. In the evening we saw something we have never seen before - a weasel carrying its young in its mouth similar to a cat carrying a kitten. We saw it fleetingly dash across the path and disappear into the thick undergrowth of the blueberry bushes which buzz with the sound of bees during the daytime.
Most of these smaller creatures are quite vulnerable especially when they are young as the predatory sparrowhawk is also always on the prowl - but life goes on so to speak.

Monday, May 17, 2010

View from across Loch Ness.

Guests now staying in Aspenwood for two weeks kindly emailed us this photo they took over the weekend from the other side of Loch Ness, so many thanks Ron & Irene for sharing it. The weather patterns have been quite erratic this month but the weekend weather was quite bright and breezy producing alot of white water on the surface of the loch. We live nearer lochside at Lower Birchwood House and Aspenwood Cottage is right behind us. There is a grass path leading down from Aspenwood which joins the forest track and takes you past our house which is a lovely peaceful walk any time of the day. Alternatvely for those wishing to dip their toes in the magic but chilly water of Loch Ness or to just relax on the seats we have provided - take the path opposite our house down to the lochside beach and soak up the panoramic views.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The sound of siskins.

The new batch of green and yellow siskins have hatched during May and make an unbelievable noise calling out to be fed.... so do turn the sound up...but not if you meant to be working in the office!
Our cats Maisie and Daisy go crazy when the sound is up. 

Some brave ones leave the nest for a while and sit quite naively on the ground unaware of any feline dangers so we both keep a good eye out for them. This baby male siskin was happily sunbathing on the sunflower heart feeder when it gently took off and floated down to the ground near to where we were sitting on the bench outside the garage. I could sense the possible danger so stood up to shoo it away as Maisie and Daisy were sunbathing somewhere nearby. It floated up a little way and then landed on Ray's head who was luckily wearing a hat as it was quite sunny. It sat quite content in its newly found nest until I scooped it up gently and replaced it on the bird table out of any danger.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Red squirrel at Lower Birchwood.

While we were sitting outside during a welcome sunny moment we were thrilled to see this cheeky chap suddenly appear from the undergrowth and hoover up the remains of the sunflower hearts under the feeders nearby. We have not seen many in our own garden since the harsh winter and were worried they might be have been fatally affected by the cold weather. There are now more leaves on the trees which provide a suitable cover for the squirrels from the predatory pine martens which inhabit the vicinity and can easily chase a squirrel up a tree. The suet balls hanging from the new fence at Aspenwood for the birds have been violently ripped apart lately which is evidence of the hungry pine marten so we now provide the smaller suet balls inside a stout wire cage. Hopefully the new breed of red squirrels will survive all that is thrown at them but at least they can be guaranteed a generous supply of food. 

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Red squirrel at Aspenwood Cottage.

While we were up in Aspenwood Cottage on Saturday morning we were very pleased and excited to see this red squirrel emerge from nearby Farigaig Forest, sit for a while assessing the situation and then scamper along the new fence to the specially designed nut feeders. We were amazed at the size of its ear tufts and nails....but all the better to get the nuts out of the peanut feeders!
After the harsh winter we were beginning to get really worried about them as we had not seen as many squirrels as we have recorded in previous years. This cheeky chap was feeding very near the large lounge window for at least 20 minutes before it bounded off to have a drink at the water bath. It then scampered off and disappeared over the low fence where we surprisingly noticed it munching on some of the vegetation.
The squirrels are back .... so come and see them at close range from Aspenwood Cottage.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Blooming lovely.

After a cold winter and a rather wet Spring the wild primroses are now flowering in colourful profusion, albeit a few weeks late. They line the roadside verges from Inverfarigaig to Dores and brightly carpet the woodland floor everywhere. The daffodils in the garden are also now in bloom sometimes doubling as a shelter for tiny creatures.
Best of all are the Winter pansies. These were planted late last year but before they had the chance to show off their wonderful colours they were suddenly covered under 8 inches of snow and ice. When this unwelcome blanket eventually subsided after several chilly months they looked very sorry for themselves but being resilient plants they soon bounced back to life and are still in full flower right now. 

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Stag party...

On the way back from our trip to the Cluanie Inn we drove through Fort Augustus and skirted Loch Tarff. Just managed to spot this stag with several of his hinds on the hillside beyond the loch. Ray dropped me off and waited in the car some way ahead as it was quite a busy stretch of road. For a long time the stag had his head down intent on eating when fortunately two cars passed and for some reason tooted their car horns which not only made my day and also made the stag raise his head and look directly at me and the camera. After a while he seemed to get slightly agitated and snorting loudly he rushed to protect his 'girls' and I rushed to the warmth of our car.