Thursday, February 10, 2011

Return to winter, at least temporarily!! 7th February, 2011.

An early start to the day previous to a return to Islay. In the early morning light the bugling of Whooper Swans and the endless "social" chit chat of feeding Pink footed Geese on fields closer to the Firth could be heard quite clearly , but little else seemed to have any enthusiasm!!

After travelling to Inverness to drop off the girls at school I continued southwards on the A9, intending to try and grab an hour or so within the Strathspey area!! A good idea on paper, but as I gained height and got further towards the Slocd summit in the intervening hills, the snow increased in intensity until a 3" depth was being encountered. Time for a re-evaluation!! Turning off for Boat of Garten the snow festooned birch and pine trees were absolutely beautiful and compensated for otherwise difficult conditions and no signs of activity! A call at a publicly maintained feeding station provided views of a single Crested Tit and a less than shy Red Squirrel, both of which were repeatedly returning to feast on peanuts. Somewhere in the past I'd heard Crested Tits were prone to avoid feeding stations, but obviously this one had other ideas!!

Cutting my losses I set off again, and made do with views of Highland landscapes in all their
winter glory, as the possibility of worsening conditions was always clearly present! Such didn't arise and the remaining part of the day-long journey was without incident, although the ferry was late departing due to difficulties in getting on board a huge articulated lorry and trailer carrying straw bales. As I approached the house two Woodcock rose in the headlights from roadside grassland and "towered" off in to the night. A long day , but not without interest!

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