Tuesday, November 30, 2010

St. Andrew's Day

Today is St. Andrew's Day - the patron saint of Scotland and the sunset tonight was just magical. We were outside putting rock salt down on our driveway at 3.30pm for a getaway early tomorrow morning  and just catching the last of the light when we noticed the sunset on the west at Fort Augustus....must have been some saint !

Monday, November 29, 2010

Loads of snow.

It has now become very cold with fresh snow falling every night and the forecast of well below zero temperatures this week during the day and night. We wake up to a new layer of snow around the house and hear the swarms of birds noisily requesting their breakfast. I put on several warm layers and my new wellies and fill up all the feeders and ground feeding stations and remembered to order some more sacks of sunflower hearts... hopefully delivery vans can get to us. After last years big freeze we are better prepared and have several salt bins filled up at various positions, spades and shovels of all sizes and sledges just in case.

We went up to Aspenwood Cottage to feed the birds and also do some work inside the cottage ready for our guests who are arriving soon. We look forward to seeing them and wish them a safe journey. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Snow arrives in the Highlands

It has been snowing here on South Loch Ness Side since Wednesday afternoon off and on although not as bad as in other parts of the UK. Even neighbouring villages situated on higher ground are experiencing much worse weather conditions than we are and we seem to be in some sort of 'happy valley' at this lower level by Loch Ness Side. The scenes surrounding us have been very picturesque and the walk this morning up to the post box was relaxing with many stops along the way just to admire the small wonders of the natural world.
Sit back and enjoy the walk too....do turn the sound up ..but not if you are supposed to be in the office working !
PS ....the birds did know something !

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What do they know ?

Colder weather and snow is forecast for later this week and the birds seem to sense something chilly is in the air. A wider variety of species are now appearing at the feeding stations and gorging on the sunflower hearts and peanuts. Yesterday we watched as a mixture of finches - goldfinches, chaffinches and greenfinches - came to visit often at the same time. We were really pleased to see the great spotted woodpecker make a brief appearance on the aspen tree by the house as he has ignored us for months.
We also had a rare visitor at the bird bath of a 'tree sparrow' with its prominent white chest. This may not sound very exciting but have never seen one before. It is a finch-like bird, smaller than a house sparrow with a deep conical bill adapted for seed eating. It is on the Red List of high conservation concern and is in decline....so we were very fortunate to even see one.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Breakfast all round.

While enjoying breakfast this morning we noticed this young deer at the bottom of the driveway standing quite still on his spindly legs and staring up at the house, possibly his first visit. Then we noticed two more deer on the grassy front bank enjoying their breakfast. A few years ago this area was covered in trees but we had them cut down to allow more light into the house and also to provide wood for the log fire. Our woodcutter is coming today to finish chopping the big birch logs into more manageable pieces for the winter fires ahead.

Monday, November 15, 2010

November misty morning

After a very chilly night we woke to see frost everywhere and the first snow of the season on the mountain opposite, 'Mealfurvonie' the highest peak around Loch Ness.

The freezing fog was rolling in from the South West and skimming the top of the water of Loch Ness and we could just make out the silhouette of Urquhart Castle on the opposite shore. Took a walk down to the beach but had to tread carefully as the pebbles were fused together and covered with stiff frosty leaves. The fog was really low and thick now but the view east to Inverness was much brighter and the lapping of the waves was very relaxing.
Although the chairs on the beach looked inviting they too were covered in frost so walked back home for a hot 'special' coffee and a mince pie.

Turn up the sound on the video and relax on the beach too.

Monday, November 08, 2010

New addition at the Highland Wildlife Park

A new 23 month old male polar bear has now moved into his own enclosure at the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie called Walker. He has been transported from Rhenen Zoo in the Netherlands and has settled in well investigating his new surroundings and playing about in the mud.....so he has now become a brown bear for a while. Walker's mother Huggies is expecting another litter so zoo bosses decided it was time to find him a new home before she gives birth.
He has seen his new companion, 28 year old 'Mercedes', until now the UK's only resident polar bear, who is not too sure of this new young addition but will calm down in time and they will be introduced gradually. In the long term it is hoped that Walker will become the park's breeding male with the introduction of a new young female once Mercedes has passed away.
Find out more about Walker and the Highland Wildlife Park - a good day out from Aspenwood and only a pleasant 50 mile trip passing by Aviemore.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Autumn colours around Loch Ness

This morning we woke up to a lovely blue sky which really highlighted the beautiful golden colours of autumn on the trees surrounding Loch Ness. The temperature did not manage to climb into double figures and there is the possibility of a frost tonight accompanied by a sky full of stars. Not so many walkers now and the bench leading down to the beach is quite lonely.

Monday, November 01, 2010

November weather

November has started off with wild, wet and windy weather producing many unusual double rainbows. There is never a dull moment weatherwise and the Autumn colours on the hillside around Loch Ness are just beautiful. The water on the loch has been very choppy but that did not deter several hardy sailors taking a last trip out before harbouring their boats for the Winter.