Saturday, 15 August 2009

Water, water, everywhere...

Thursday was a stunning day that turned out to be easy as pie. I had a pick up in the middle of the route so it was a toss up which way to go. We decided that Otter were high on the 'must see' list so we headed back towards Loch Beg. We picked up the Common Seals and a flock of 30 Golden Plover, the cameras came out in force so I had to digiscope everything for 4 people - time consuming but worth it. We got round to the loch to find mum and cub, cuddling up, asleep on the rocks.I scanned round the ridges while the Otters slept on and noticed a bird perched prominently. It was a Golden Eagle but distant. We headed off for a closer view and on arrival discovered a second bird perched on the ridge. We hung around for a while to see if they would fly but had no luck with that. One of the guests managed to delete all the photos on her camera so we had to go back to the Otters again - what a hardship;-) Off for the WT Eagle next. How easy can it be? We arrived to find absolutely nothing! We scanned the ridges and waited. Finally a large bird of prey appeared which turned out to be the young WT Eagle - first time I've seen this bird in flight, fantastic. That was pretty much everything sewn up for the day but we did get 2 Adders, a flock of 40 Siskin, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and 3 Mountain Hares for other highlights.Friday was forecast to be one of the wettest days since the winter - boy were they right! We started down at Fidden in the rain and wind. We got the usual array of waders and small birds but no sign of any Hares. Stopping at various locations was just getting us wetter and not producing a great deal but things brightened up when we bagged 2 Otters. It was lashing it down at the time and the Otters were left to their own devices before too long. We sailed on down the road looking at waterfalls and streams that were increasing in intensity by the minute. Lunch was a damp affair and getting out in the rain was almost pointless. Getting up into one of the glens was a bit of an eye opener. One side of the road was a river and the other side was a lake! The river was in good spate........and the spray was being blown around too - pretty spectacular stuff.We checked out a few more waterfalls before heading back to see if we could locate a WT Eagle. We actually hit a spell of weather where we could see further than ten yards and immediately picked up a bedraggled WT Eagle sitting in a tree. Ten minutes later we couldn't see the tree! One of the roads was flooded on the way back but not enough to stop us getting through. We'd managed to have a superb day, picking up a decent amount of wildlife, despite the weather conditions.
Saturday was looking good as we set out in sunshine but the showers were coming through too. It was like a game of cat and mouse trying to get out in the dry spells. At least we could see the rain coming! First stop of the day was for WT Eagle and we missed it! One of the birds had just flown off and there was no sign of anything else. We ploughed on, keeping our eyes on the ridges. It nearly always pays off and it wasn't long before we had Golden Eagle being mobbed by a couple of Raven. A good herd of Red Deer hinds were found with one of the youngsters suckling being the highlight. We headed off in pursuit of Otter as the rain seemed to be taking control of the day. Hooded Crow, Cormorant, Greenshank, curlew and the like, kept us interested along the way. The lochs were chopping up pretty bad in the strengthening wind - was this going to thwart the Otter hunt? 'Never!' he cried. We had a clear spell with another shower fast approaching so we doubled our efforts, eyes streaming, until a little brown head was found poking through the waves. The Otter chewed on the fish long enough to get it in the scope and everyone managed a view before the rain stopped play again! These House Martins seem to have been in the nest forever but finally they look as if they may go.While we were taking a few snaps of these I thought I'd better check the shore for waders and the like. While scanning around another Otter appeared on the rocks - a much better view this time. It went back in the water and then out again followed by another Otter. It was the mum and cub giving us a bit of a show - superb stuff! We stopped to get a look at these Greylag Geese......put your left wing in, your left wing out etc...they paddled and preened, flapped and honked but they weren't going to fly. We found 5 RB Mergs while we were watching the geese. The next stop we had proved to be the sighting of the day,'s a Gannet, if your wondering and it was dead before they got there. The WT Eagles obligingly flew a short distance to show off their huge wingspan. I finally managed to get a shot of one of the Adders that I keep mentioning - this was just before the heavens opened again!We carried on down the road getting some superb views of Goldfinches, Stonechat, Linnet, Dunlin and no views of Hares! We'd had a good 'un though. The heavens opened properly on the way back and tried to spoil things but one of the WT Eagles was sitting close to the road. We'd stopped already but we were looking the other way but when we clapped eyes on him there was much fumbling of cameras and windows being opened and he was off! Too quick for me. I managed to get a shot through a double thickness of tinted window, between a head the edge of the window. Quite an achievement, I think;-)

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