Thursday, June 30, 2011

Finding their way around.

 In the early evening we are often visited by a pair of young deer who kindly munch away at the grass on the front bank. They are not easily frightened by our fact they are quite curious and just stand and stare at us and then carry on munching. The juvenile great spotted woodpeckers are now allowed out on their own but are very easily spooked. A new hatch of siskins and chaffinches has fledged and will hop about innocently on the ground so we have to sometimes carefully walk round them. They seem to enjoy the bird bath and will splash about for ages ... just like any youngster.
Plenty of red squirrels chasing each other around the tree trunks and trying out all the food at the various feeding stations. Had three in the garden this morning and this one was quite surprised by the large blackbird which suddenly landed next to it on the bird table...which is meant for birds !

Monday, June 27, 2011

Saturday sunset

Worked hard at Aspenwood on Saturday with our new pressure washer - cleaning all the flagstones around the cottage and the steps....what a difference! They came up as good as new and we could now see the embossed pattern on the flagstones again. Also sprayed the feeding fence and made it alot cleaner for the birds and squirrels. 
Sat outside in the evening after supper and witnessed a most amazing sunset..our reward.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Ness Express.

We have noticed that there are not so many pleasure boats out on Loch Ness this year, either hired cruisers or private yachts. The weather cannot be to blame as it has been quite pleasant generally so it must be a sign of the times.
We have also observed that The Ness Express has not been operating as fully as previous years [it is now in its third year]. Several of our guests have taken the exhilarating journey on this RIB from Fort Augustus to Urquhart Castle and back and enjoyed the experience immensely. We often give the driver and passengers a wave as they zoom in front of the house and sometimes we even get a wave back.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Scottish wildcat kittens

We enjoyed a day out last week at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig near Aviemore, about a 50 mile trip from Aspenwood Cottage.
We especially [OK - mainly me] wanted to see the two new Scottish wildcat kittens born in late March. This is the third litter for the proud parents Hamish and Seasaidh.

The parents were naturally very protective and did everything our own tame cats do....fiercely mewing when we got too near their kittens, scratching on the tree trunks with their claws and even chasing birds that happened to come too near their open enclosure.The Scottish wildcat is one of our rarest native mammal species and there are less than 400 Scottish wildcats remaining in the wilds of the Highlands. The breeding of endangered species is a very important part of the ongoing programme for the park which is linked to Edinburgh Zoo especially for conservation purposes. A lot of building work was going on and there were many new large open enclosures, new wooden viewing platforms and wider pathways being built by the army who were in full smart uniformed force. We enjoyed a picnic at one of the many tables available. A good day out and lots of photo opportunities. 

There were many other fascinating animals to see although the new polar bear 'Walker' was in hiding. He was selected to live in the Highland Wildlife Park from the Netherlands as his sister was giving birth again and they had to be separated. The original older resident polar bear at this park 'Mercedes' had to be put down for health reasons due to old age. A new female polar bear from Bulgaria is expected soon and the enclosure is now the biggest in the world..what an achievement.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Juvenile woodpecker being fed by Dad.

We were thrilled to finally witness the juvenile great spotted woodpecker actually being fed by Dad on the wooden leg of our bird table just outside the window. The youngsters have a 'red beret' on top of their heads which will gradually appear on the nape if they are a male but will disappear if they are a female. The father was also feeding another noisy youngster on a nearby tree leaving this bolder offspring to practise drilling with his long sharp beak on our bird table. Dad reappeared and they were both by the garden woodpecker ornament which looked very funny.

Monday, June 13, 2011

New life in the garden.

The garden is a hive of activity right now with the sounds of fluttering wings and high pitched squeaks of young birds everywhere. As soon as food is put out at the various feeding stations in the garden swarms of tiny birds descend often completely ignoring any human being in the local vicinity. They are very innocent and allow good close up photos to be taken before flying away. They are also fun to watch splashing about in the bird baths.
young greenfinch

pheasant chicks

great spotted woodpecker and son [top one]

young blue tits and coal tit

 juvenile robin

Monday, June 06, 2011

Sitting on the beach.

Last week the weather just got better and better and we enjoyed many afternoons down on the wee beach. We have put more chairs and tables there now which are really appreciated by the many worn out walkers who give us the thumbs up on their way home. The bench at the top of the path to the beach now has a posh new sign pointing walkers in that direction as we have noticed lots of people walking past the path and missing out on a lovely relaxing sit down on the shore of Loch Ness. As we were sitting on the beach in the sunshine with a wee glass of chilled wine we enjoyed chatting to other folk and watching life go by. Certain plants somehow grow in between the pebbles and a pied wagtail bobbed along in front of the waves - maybe having a paddle to cool down. A few fishermen glided quietly along, the Ness Express whizzed by and the yellow rescue helicopter cluttered overhead. We are very fortunate to have this so near our cottage doorstep.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Loch Farr is not far...

Took our new car 'RUBY' ...our present for our ruby wedding anniversary...out for a spin and eventually came back home on the Daviot road. Turned off left at the hamlet of Farr and stopped a little further along the narrow lane heading towards Garbole at secluded Loch Farr. This lesser known picturesque loch is only about 15 miles from Aspenwood Cottage and is surrounded by conifers and wild rhododendron bushes in full bloom. It was just so peaceful walking around the headland of the loch with the sparkling sun shining off the water and just the sound of birdsong in the background.