Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pine marten at Aspenwood

A cloudy but dry week so we carried out some messy but vital outdoor maintenance jobs at the cottage,clearing the gutters of moss and leaves,washing windows,putting new plants in the tubs, pruning the buddleia bush and general leaf clearing around the cottage. While scrubbing out the bird bath we noticed that the metal suet ball feeders which should have been attached to the fence were on the ground minus the suet balls. Birds or squirrels could not have been so strong to have done this so it could only have been a pine marten. We imagined him rolling the suet ball home to the waiting family. Last week the green netting surrounding one of the large suet balls was ripped to shreds so we had our suspicions then.The feeders have now been replaced with much stronger metal ones and tied tightly to the hooks on the fence. These creatures have been captured on video by guests staying in the cottage a couple of years ago. They were eating for quite a while at the peanut feeders in the early evening.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Osprey returns to Loch Garten.

Staff at the Osprey Centre at Loch Garten were delighted to see EJ the 14 year old female osprey return to her nest earlier than expected for the ninth year running. After a 3,000 mile trip from Africa she landed safely back on her nest with a freshly caught 12 inch rainbow trout in her talons. She will have to catch her own food until her partner Odin flies in after her and waits on her while they prepare for their new family. The Osprey Centre opens on Friday 1st April and is a good visit. Watch the ospreys on a webcam very near their nest and hopefully catch a glimpse of the chicks later on.
For more info on the ospreys.
We have seen them 'fishing' on Loch Ness so we will keep a look out for our very own Ollie the osprey.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Getting warmer.

This week has been very chilly during the day and even colder at night. The deer have been coming down to eat in the garden before scampering up to Aspenwood. There is still quite thick snow on hills and mountains and snow is still lying just a short distance away on the upper road to Foyers.  Fortunately the forecast is heading for double figures over the next few days and hopefully gradually increasing towards Spring. A good sunset at six o' clock last night with a lonely cloud on fire in the blue sky above the snow capped mountain. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Snow still about.

The sudden spell of wintry weather is still with us with temperatures just above freezing during the day and minus at night.There is thick snow on the mountains opposite but luckily the snow has disappeared from around our house as we are so near the warming influence of Loch Ness. A friend came to visit us from the nearby village of Foyers yesterday and she could not believe we were snow free as they had a foot of it surrounding their farm and more snow was falling. It is amazing the change in landscape you can see in a short distance as you are climbing upwards. The birds are being well fed and so is the predatory sparrowhawk. This one was in pursuit of a siskin but both flew into the window of the conservatory as we were enjoying a quiet lunch. The sparrowhawk was really winded and kindly sat for a few minutes posing for these photos before flying off into the forest. I picked the siskin up which was shocked but still alive and left him on the bird table to recover which he did befoere flying off to live another day. 

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Snow in March.

The temperature fell  during the night and so did the snow, just when we were looking forward to Spring. We then remembered that when we came to view this house in April 1996 we arrived in a blizzard and thought it was the perfect home for us. Walked down to the nearby beach and looked and listened to Loch Ness. It did begin to thaw during the day although the snow is still on the mountains opposite. Maybe the birds did know something as they appeared for their food today as usual.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Sparrowhawk on the prowl....

During the past two weeks we have noticed that there are less birds feeding at the various feeding stations here and at Aspenwood Cottage nearby.
Although the predatory sparrowhawk has been in the local area looking for his lunch with his beady eyes the main reason seems to be that the smaller birds are building nests in the nearby coniferous woodlands. We can hear them noisily going about their business in Farigaig Forest but we now have a welcome break from the frenetic feeding they required during the cold winter spell.
After a brief warm spell it has become rather chilly lately with a south-westerly breeze coming along the Great Glen producing white waves on Loch Ness. This is forecast to last until the end of the week so maybe they know something we don't.