Friday, May 27, 2011

Birds- big and small

The Boat of Garten Osprey Centre near Aviemore is the Scottish Spring and Summer home to EJ and Odin, a pair of ospreys who fly in from Africa every April to the same nest. They lay eggs and raise their chicks before flying back to Africa in late August as a family. The Osprey Centre is a good visit and is just an easy one hour drive from Aspenwood Cottage. It is a trip that many of our guests enjoy and we are sure that Roger and Susan, our guests staying in July, will enjoy making the visit.
At the Centre you can watch the ospreys on their nest high up a nearby tree via the webcam in great close up with the sound of the wind in the trees. EJ, the female osprey, has recently laid several eggs and two of them have now hatched and are being fed with fish by Odin, who is extremely good at fishing in nearby Loch Garten. For such large birds with large feet and talons they are so very careful around their young.
Here the garden is suddenly teeming with bird life. The male Great Spotted Woodpeckers are feeding on everything and then take beak fulls of food back to the females waiting in nests in nearby tree trunks.
At Loch Ness the swallows are now rapidly skimming over the surface of the water to catch the hovering insects. They keep zooming into the garage if it is open so we have to keep an eye on them and make sure they come out as we do not want them nesting inside.
Saw these hungry dunnock chicks in the garden waiting to be fed as well as the robin giving himself a 'spring clean' in the bath before returning to the nest.
New life is starting all over again and is marvellous to watch.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Extreme windy weather

Very wet and windy over the last few days and the view towards Urquhart Castle and Bay was extremely menacing with an ever changing sky. Lots of choppy high white water on Loch Ness but even so we were amazed to see some canoeists near the opposite shore heading for Urquhart Bay. We were not surprised to receive an update email from the Loch Ness inshore lifeboat to report that they had rescued the same canoeists after they had all tipped over in the bay after meeting the oncoming wind. A member of the RNLI crew even had to get into the cold water and swim to the shoreline to give first aid to one of the canoeists who was suffering from hyperthermia. They all needed warming up to say the least as the water of Loch Ness is always extremely cold whatever the time of year. Even the newly painted  'Fingal'  activity barge took some time ploughing through the waves although I would rather be on that than a small canoe. Today the weather has calmed down alot after a very rough night with unusually high winds and the sun is now shining again. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Blooming Bluebells.

The wild bluebells are now in full bloom and can be seen along the road side verges and covering the floor of the forests producing a pleasant profusion of purple petals.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Wood mice and Woodpecker

Life in the woods can be traumatic as these long-tailed wood mice realised when they saw the Great Spotted Woodpecker flying towards them. However the woodpecker was only interested in the peanuts.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cyril the squirrel

Looking out of the lounge window at Aspenwood on Saturday morning we saw this young squirrel run along the feeding platform from the forest. He must have been fairly young as his coat was a bit tatty in places and not all the same colour, but he did have amazing ear tufts and a beautiful bushy tail.He was most interested in the new peanut granules placed on the ledge and stayed for a long while happily munching away.

He then took a long drink at the bird bath as it was a lovely warm day and then scampered for some more food at the small suet ball feeder before disappearing back down the purple buddleia bush and into Farigaig Forest for a well earned rest after all that food and drink. We decided to call him Cyril the squirrel.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

'Swan Loch' - the Scottish version of the famous ballet.

The last two weeks have been absolutely glorious with a clear blue sky day and night. The temperature has been pleasantly warm accompanied by a mild sea breeze drifting along Loch Ness. It has been so nice to be able to enjoy sitting outside again and just watch the world go by granting the occasional wave at walkers and boaters on Loch Ness. Walking down to Inverfarigaig Pier to go up to the post box we saw these five mute swans which seemed very comfortable with each others company so they are possibly from the same family as before. It was extremely reflective to stand on Farigaig Pier and look at the panoramic view down towards Inverness and see these swans enjoying the peaceful life on Loch Ness. The pier is only a short stroll down a grass track from Aspenwood Cottage.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

What big ears I've got !

The native red squirrels are often spotted on the feeding platform outside Aspenwood cottage happily munching on the peanuts and sunflower hearts. At this time of year they grow splendid ear tufts and their tails become bushier. We saw a couple of adults chasing each other around a tree trunk with a bit of spitting thrown in, no doubt claiming their territory and protecting their partners. We look forward to seeing the offspring soon as they are great fun to watch.