Saturday, May 1, 2010

25th-27th April, 2010 inclusive.

A late decision to visit some areas farther north saw a rather miserable and cold journey on the 25th. As elsewhere, and at home, the full onslaught of the arrival of spring migrants hasn't yet occurred this far north , other than with a few obvious exceptions. My goal to have an intensive couple of days seeing birds like Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Osprey and Scottish Crossbill was fully realised , but only after a lot of hard work. I confess I wimped out of a trek in the high hills to see Ptarmigan given the amount of snow cover and , in all honesty, insufficient time. Crested Tits seem to be in short supply, or is it just that time of year (?), but several Scottish crossbill parties were seen.

A thoroughly enjoyable sojourn with memorable highlights being a Capercaillie male and two attendant females seen well, a female Capercaillie seen "gritting" at a roadside , which then flew to a nearby Scots Pine tree showing its wonderful tail and rump patterns off to full effect, a very robust and active lek of Black Grouse and a pair of Red-throated Diver in full summer plumage and full display only forty metres away. I'd come across them by pure accident and, by similar coincidence, they never saw me either! My condition, after crouching in the undergrowth for twenty minutes , was not dis-similar to that of the many London Marathon runners who would have been finishing their battle with discomfort around the same time!!

All too soon it was time to return home after a very pleasant, if somewhat tiring, couple of days. The extent to which the winter weather had extracted its toll in this part of Scotland was extremely evident in the number of snapped off trees and branches which had succumbed under the weight of snow. With temperatures having plummeted to minus 16 degrees this latter winter had been the worst within the last twenty years according to local people and photographs graphically illustrated the conditions. Set against all that the presence of a few Goldcrest and Wren, and relative abundant numbers of titmice ( other than Crested!! ) paid testament to the resilience of some of our wildlife.

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