Monday, 20 December 2010

Trails of the unexpected.

Sunday was the perfect day to go for a walk. A pristine blanket of snow covered the landscape and the trees were Christmas card perfect.
It was all quiet as Shop Lady and I headed off along the old road. The first tracks we found in the snow were of a feral cat that holes up in the barn but it wasn't too long before we came across the first of many Red Deer tracks. We could see for a reasonable distance in all directions and there was no sign of the deer at all. The next set of tracks we found looked like this.
Probably a Short-tailed Field Vole but interesting to see them crossing the track. There wasn't a sight or sound of any birds close by so it was a wee while before we came across our next interesting track.
There aren't many animals to pick from so that has to be Mountain Hare loping along the road. As we skirted around the loch we picked up our first birds of the day - Little Grebe, Mallard, Grey Heron, Stonechat, RB Merg, Curlew and Greenshank. A distant WT Eagle was never going to come our way in a hurry so we pressed on looking at plenty more deer tracks and trying to find something different. We knew we'd come across this one before too long but I didn't expect to get such a clear track - Otter. You can see where it climbed out of the water... 
...before heading for a culvert under the road.
Top quality tail print in that photo as well. The views were stunning all round too.
I was happy with the haul for the day already but we cracked on with the walk. A Common Buzzard looked absolutely superb as it cruised along the ridge - shame it wasn't a bit closer.
Two minutes later and we had this pale Common Buzzard flying over the same place - once again, stunning.
It was good to see this small herd of hinds and calves were still in good condition. I'd guess that these beasts were responsible for most of the tracks on the road and had probably been supplementing their diet with seaweed during the night.
We'd just had a brief conversation with Postie and he'd driven on and the most unexpected thing happened. Only about 10 yards walk from where we'd been talking a Barn Owl lifted from the side of the road and flew off. No chance of a photo at the time but I thought it might be worth walking back to where the bird had disappeared from sight to see if it was visible. I had a good look through the bins and couldn't see a thing but just as I was about to turn back the bird lifted again and landed in a tree - result!
It wasn't there for too long but I got a couple of snaps before the bird flew straight in front of us and out of sight again. We pressed on, scanning the loch to see plenty of Common Seals, a couple of Great Northern Diver and a single Black-throated Diver plus our first Hooded Crows of the day. The crows appeared to be investigating one of their nest sites and allowed a fairly close approach. One bird flew from the shore to the tree and back again while the other sat on a rocky outcrop adorned with icicles.
A robin refused to pose on the snowy topped fence posts while the camera was pointing at it...
...and the single Fieldfare was nice to see, in company with a Mistle Thrush, but never close enough for a good shot.
Postie came back down the road at this point so we cadged a lift back home.


Den said...

Nice walk Bryan,always enjoy your blogs,hope you and shop lady have a nice xmas.We have just come back from peak district where it was severely cold while strangely Dorset got much more snow but not so cold.

ACR Blues said...

Sounds like an excellent walk, I am envious. Can't wait until I am back in May for a week. All the best to you and yours Bryan

Bryan Rains said...

Cheers, folks.
Den - we are a bit like Dorset up here as in we don't normally do snow. It is nice though!