Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Juvenile siskins

The new young batch of siskins are very noisy at the moment. This juvenile female and colourful green and yellow male siskin sat on the edge of the bird bath for ages not quite sure what to do next - the first time they had seen a bird bath I guess. They always look very large and fluffed up. A swarm of them will suddenly fly down and sit on the gravel around the house and peck at the ground, maybe for insects or grass or just being curious. The cats surprisingly ignore them now and have even walked up to them on the ground, sniffed them and then walked over them as if they know they are vulnerable. Sometimes the offspring have a few spats but not for long. They found something interesting here on the azalea bush and had a few words with each other and flapped about then settled down to eat happily together.....that's youngsters for you eh!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Woodpecker at Aspenwood

While up at the cottage on Saturday morning one of the juvenile great spotted woodpeckers suddenly flew by the large lounge window and landed on the fence by the nut feeder. Unfortunately the window was not open yet so had to take this photo through the glass therefore it is not as sharp as it could be.These birds are extremely sensitive to any sound and the noise of one camera click is enough to frighten them away so you have to be very still and quiet and very quick...not an easy task.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sailing into the sunset.

Apart from a wet Wednesday the rest of the week has been warm and dry with a lovely breeze. We have been able to sit out in the late afternoons and evenings after dinner enjoying watching the boats go by and encouraging the crew with a friendly wave. We watch as they gradually disappear down a sparkling Loch Ness on their adventure.
The sunsets have been quite dazzlingly bright and sunglasses are required.The forecast for next week is continuous fair weather with temperatures in the low 20C...very pleasant.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Grey Heron in flight.

Driving back home along the main road from Inverness to Fort Augustus [B862] we did a double take at a grey heron standing stock still in the middle of a field of sheep looking like a statue. It soon noticed us and flew off and landed further down the field. It must have been feeding at the loch opposite and flew in for a rest in the long grass.
They feed and breed close to wetland and reedbeds and wade into the shallow water to catch fish,frogs and insects,occasionally small mammals and even birds. They are very patient and will wait like a statue until they plunge at their prey catching it in their long yellow bill.They can be found all over Britain and many stay here all year round while other 'softies' fly away in September to warmer climates. Grey heron facts.
We have a model heron in our garden along with other creatures but the local squirrels will not be outdone!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

3 for the price of 2..

While we were doing the change over on Saturday at Aspenwood I happened to glance out of the lounge window and was delighted to see a red squirrel running along the new fence from the forest to the nut feeders. Earlier I had put some peanuts out on the flat fence top to make life easier for them. As I watched fascinated - lo and behold - along came another and they both happily munched away quite near each other.
I could not contain myself when a third raced along the fence to the bird seed on the fence so now there were three within the space of a metre. Their tails were blowing in the breeze and it has been quite unseasonally windy lately.
We have been following The Open at St.Andrews on TV and seen how extremely breezy it is there, even the players having a one hour break from any golf last Friday because of the 40mph winds.
We are very pleased that we had the flat platform design on the new fence as it certainly seems to attract the wildlife.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Life in the slow lane....

Not a good week weatherwise although the garden and all the lochs really needed the rain after a prolonged dry spell. In the garden the winter pansies are just about coming to an end in the tubs after being lovingly planted last November and then suddenly rudely submerged under a foot of snow for two months. They are being monitored very closely under the watchful eyes of our two 'loch ness monsters'.
The green and yellow siskins have had a second hatch of very noisy young and there is often a swarm of about 30 - 40 of them on the driveway presumably trying to find insects amongst the pebbles. The juvenile great spotted woodpeckers are still feeding fleetingly on the suet balls and the red squirrels are frequent visitors to the nut feeders and sunflower heart roundabout and can be very entertaining to watch.

The roe deer make a guest appearance every now and again to kindly mow the lawn on the front bank for us. Life is never dull.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Making spray while the sun shines.

No matter what the weather there are usually yachts to be seen on Loch Ness now. The last few days have been very interesting weather wise and certainly never boring. Even though it has been pleasantly warm with temperatures just below 20C we have experienced sunshine, drizzle, rain showers and quite high winds.
Last Wednesday was extremely viscious with wind speeds of about 50mph. Even so some intrepid sailors would not give in and braved the elements bumping up and down on the white water. We were quite surprised to see this yacht on the rough water flying the Swedish flag and making spray everywhere. In the evening the nasty weather seems to magically scurry away somewhere and the sun shines down. We have been able to sit outside and watch the sun setting over the mountain opposite with a glass or two for company....cheers.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Pine Marten

Our guests last week were fortunate enough to see a native Pine Marten as they drove along the Errogie road back to Aspenwood Cottage at dusk. They are about the size of an adult cat with a long slender body, a long and fuffy tail and a distinctive yellow-creamy bib. They are elusive nocturnal creatures and are members of the weasel family, thus very agile and will easily chase squirrels up a tree. Thus the red squirrels in the vicinity naturally prefer to come out to eat and play during daylight hours - how very wise. We were lucky to see these creatures in a friends garden nearby which opens out onto the woodland of Farigaig Forest. They arrive every night to be fed and we took this video of the Pine Marten.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Seeing Double.

While having lunch yesterday we were pleased to see a red squirrel scamper down the  tree trunk near the window and launch itself onto the 'sunflower roundabout' feeder. The round tin lid attached to the feeder stops any debris falling down and also enables more birds, and squirrels, to enjoy feeding. As we watched another cheeky squirrel suddenly appeared and leapt from the tree trunk to join its sibling and they spun round together.They seemed very comfortable side by side so they must have been from the same family as they can be quite nasty with strangers. It made us laugh to see one squirrel leap off only to quickly reappear for another go at the tasty sunflower hearts.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Roe deer.

The warm weather has produced a wealth of summer buttercups around the house and down the front bank and, as we saw recently on 'Springwatch', the deer just love them. We have had a family of roe deer with a youngster munching away but there are still alot of flowers left for another day.