Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lost and found.

A very frantic lady parked her car at the bottom of our driveway this morning and rushed up our drive with a tale of woe..or 'tail of woe'.She was a local lass from the nearby village and while walking her dogs along the forest track in front of our house one of her Jack Russell terriers had broken its lead and escaped into the woods.We were working ourselves up to go on a walk anyway up to Easter Boleskine so we said we would look out for it and call its name.The dog in question was unfortutately called 'Kipper' so we had great fun walking through the woods calling out 'Here Kipper' every now and then as if we were fish merchants..we expected people to appear with their money for the local fish van. We looked high and low as we strode up into Farigaig Forest passing the Easter Boleskine Wetlands project which now has a new wooden jetty built by a group of 35 officer cadets from Tayforth University Officers Training Corp army cadet officers recently.
Come here...there's more.....The story does have a happy ending.
After our uneventful walk we phoned up the lady owner to say we had not had any luck so far and she breathlessly but very happily informed us that 'Kipper' had been seen by German tourists.She had talked to them while they were sitting having a picnic at Farigaig Forestry Picnic Site and they said a dog answering Kipper's description had being taken in to a cottage in Inverfarigaig and the cottage owner had phoned her up and reunited the pair.Both were very, very happy and so were we.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Juvenile Woodies.

More young Great Spotted Woodpeckers have been to visit the various feeders in the garden area.  Although they are almost the same size as adults they are very obvious by their prominent red crown sitting on top of their heads rather like a hat. Just before taking this photo it landed on a rather thin branch nearby but was unable to grip it tightly so it dangled rather ungainly upside down for a while before managing somehow to grasp onto the suet ball. The juvenile and female do not have the prominent red mark on the nape of the neck which is so obvious on the adult male in the photos below. Both male and female do have red markings on the abdomen and undertail.The female is rather elusive and we have only seen her once so maybe she is looked after by the family after all her hard work.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Red squirrels having fun.

Families of red squirrels have been frequent visitors to the feeders outside Aspenwood Cottage. This one was at the nut feeder as we drove up last Saturday and it stayed there for some time, even when we threw open the lounge windows opposite the fence where the feeders are attached. The ear tufts are quite something and their tiny, but very useful claws, are exquisite. There is always a supply of peanuts and sunflower hearts in the laundry shed at the rear of the cottage in case the feeders need filling up. The 'Bookmark a Squirrel' project has been very useful in providing towards the funds for their never ending supply of peanuts.
They also come to visit us at Lower Birchwood House below Aspenwood and they are great fun to watch especially when the youngsters playing together.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Life on Loch Ness.

A very pleasant week weatherwise, warm temperatures with a lovely balmy breeze and it was great to sit outside whenever possible and watch the boating life of all sizes pass by.The sport of kayaking and canoeing has become very popular, often wih an instructor shouting encouragment. Other users are not quite so responsible and cause some concern.
 Another favourite activity now is going on the RIB [Rigid Inflatable Boat] the 'Ness Express' from Fort Augustus up to Urquhart Castle and back at great speed.
As it passes in front of our house we wave at the RIB and the passengers all wave back - great fun.This exciting service only began last year and has proved very popular and many of our guests go on it for a thrill.
The breeze has enticed a few yachts to tack across the water.
The biggest craft to use Loch Ness is the luxury cruise ship 'Lord of the Glens' which travels down the Great Glen from Inverness to the Inner and Outer Hebrides depending on the cruise booked by passengers.Built in 1988 the Lord of the Glens underwent a complete re-construction in Spain in 2000. This makes her the only vessel able to navigate both the Caledonian Canal and the open sea.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Juvenile Woodpeckers come to visit

The male Great Spotted Woodpecker has at last bought his family of three youngsters into  the garden. He watches them carefully as they try out the various feeders hanging up amongst the trees and sometimes he actually feeds them as they wait on a nearby tree trunk. They seemed to enjoy the birdbath and we are so pleased to have seen them for the first time.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

RockNess Music Festival 2010

The RockNess Music Festival is based at the village of Dores at the eastern end of Loch Ness and take place on Friday 11th June through to Sunday 13th June. We have watched them setting up the big blue and red tents used as stages as well as the rows of sleeping tents that people can hire for the three day event. The line-up includes Fatboy Slim who was the driving force behind the original RockNess event four years ago. Some of the other turns on show are Friendly Fires, Leftfield, The Strokes, Ian Brown, Doves and Blondie as well as many more. The weather is set to be fair over the weekend so the beautiful backdrop of Loch Ness should be amazing, hopefully with a smashing sunset.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Woody makes a meal of it...

The male Great Spotted Woodpecker has been really providing for his family who are no doubt holed up in a nearby tree. He has his meal first then fills up his beak to bursting point to take food back to the youngsters. He really uses his tail well on the suet ball for support and balance and flits about from the peanuts to the suet balls and then onto any oddments left on the ground. We hope that he will one day bring the entire family to the restaurant at Lower Birchwood. Look out for the surprised male pheasant and the baby siskin in the video.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Bluebells,blossom and butterflies.

The recent showers and warm sunshine have encouraged the wild bluebells to suddenly appear at last alongside the fading primroses producing an amazing blue carpet in certain areas of the woodland. 

The rowan blossom is on the trees but a sudden gust of wind causes a confetti effect when the delicate petals spiral down to earth.

The rhododendrons are starting to appear in bud in the forest and the yellow gorse bushes line the roadside.
In our garden the winter pansies planted in tubs last November and then covered in snow for two months are still in flower although some are beginning to fade but they have given us the best show ever. The summer azaleas are beginning to flower and attract the bees and butterflies. It is suddenly very colourful everywhere.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


The seaside town of Nairn is about 16 miles east of Inverness and became a very popular holiday destination since the Victorian times with the coming of the railway. It has a beautifully clean long sandy beach leading to sand dunes and the busy marina.
There are two 18-hole Champoinship golf courses in the area and the town hosts two well attended festivals in the summer months - a Books and Arts Festival in June and a Jazz Festival in August. We enjoyed a day out last month, before it got too busy with visitors, and enjoyed a stroll in the sunshine along the empty sandy beach followed by a picnic near the sea front.... a good day trip from Aspenwood whatever the weather.