Scottish Adventure May 2014
23rd May to 31st May 2014
Our (me and Adele my lovely wife) journey started after work on Friday night when we set of from Scarborough to our overnight stay just before Glasgow at the Hamilton Express Inn which was a bit shabby but good for a sleep to be ready for an early start. Saturday morning saw us drive through Glasgow and up past Loch Lomond before 9.00 am with a great journey through Glen Coe (just wish others would drive more slowly and enjoy the views), up to Fort William and on to Malliag to see our friends Andy and Pam for a couple of great nights, catching up on their adventures since the recent move to Skye, brave but lucky people!!!
On Skye we had a wonderful walk to the Point of Sleat the most southerly point of Skye with great views of the mainland, the islands of Eigg and Rum and the mountains of Skye, The Black and Red Cullin Mountains.
The Cullin Mountains
Slow Worm (the legless Lizard) an unexpected sight on Skye
After a great time on Skye including, a surprise belated birthday party thrown by Andy and Pam on a white sandy beach with blue sky's and sea's and views of every thing from Sea Eagles to slow worms we headed north on the Monday morning towards Ullapool, where we had our only poor weather of the holiday for 3 solid hours it poured down, but the pub helped as did the free decanter of whisky in the bedroom of the Birch Grove B and B where we stopped for a 2 nights stay.
After the rain we were rewarded with an awesome if not a little Midge bitten sunset.
The next day Tuesday, was a beautiful sunny morning and this saw us on Ullapool Cruises the Summer Queen, for a 4 hour trip round the Summer Isles with a coffee shop stop on one of the Isles.
We were only just on Loch Broom when the first stunner of the day appeared which though distant was one of the new nesting Sea Eagles on the Loch, soaring high above the Summer Isles. The bird and Mammal life seen on the cruise ( a simple pleasure trip cruise) was fantastic and included the following to name but a few, Grey Seal, Common Seal, Common Dolphin (brilliant), Great Skua (the fisherman apparently feed them from boats to keep the Gulls away), Great Northern Divers, Red Throated Divers, Black Guillemot, Eider Ducks, plus various other gulls and birds. Simply and great trip.
Harbour . Common Seal (smaller than Grey or Atlantic Seal)
Following our boat trip and a little light lunch, a Tesco Meal Deal!! (I know how to treat a lady on holiday!!!) We ventured north of Ullapool to the Reiff peninsula, where the scenery was stunning, along with the nature, with Oyster Catchers, Meadow Pipit, Dunlin, Ring Plover, Red Throated Divers and Cuckoo's.
Oyster Catcher (on a traditional and organic nylon rope scrape / nest)
After our too short a time in the Ullapool area, we headed for Inverness and in particularly Chanonry Point to see the Bottle Nose Dolphins. It was our coldest greyest day of the holiday and it didn't improve much after a 5 1/2 hour wait and no show of the dolphins, so cold and tired we headed to our Inverness Hotel and little peeved to say the least, but that's wildlife. The following morning, Thursday was finer and sunny and we decided to head back to the Point again before heading to Aviemore, though it would not be the best time to see Dolphins due to the tide times, but lucky for us as soon as we were out of the car the were about directly off the point. Not though in great numbers, but enough to make the detour worth it, we had seen these wonderful cetaceans.
In the end we decided that the best time to see dolphins in the channel is two hours after low tide as the water starts to come in and not two hours before high tide when the tide is almost in, but its all guess work!!!
After seeing the Dolphins we headed around 40 miles south to our last stop of the holiday, Aviemore, via a diversion to RSPB Loch Garten, where and when we were just in time to see the Male Osprey bring a fish to the nest (seen through scopes and Binoculars) and then the female feed her 3 chicks, which were 7-10 days old (seen on the live TV monitors).
So off to explore the walks around the loch, in search of various birds and animals. Leaving the centre we saw Bank Voles feeding under the centres feeders, with Siskin and a number of Greater Spotted Woodpeckers.
Our main aim was to hopefully see one of the local Crested Tit population, which after a long walk and wait we did get three of four glimpses and a good sighting, but unfortunately no photographs.
Along the way we did see Goldeneye and ducklings, Spotted flycatchers, 1000's of blooming Chaffinches and a young deer (cant make up my mind if a Red or Roe deer)!! But the Crested Tits were awesome!!!
After checking in to our hotel we ventured out for a light snack (chips and curry sauce lol!!) and on to the main event for the day, an evening with Speyside Wildlife Company, in the night hide, in search of Pine Marten and Badger. After a couple of hours wait, YES!!! a female Pine Marten on the feeder, again awesome and then she returned to feed again around 15 minutes later. The disappointing thing was only one Badger, the local families old Boar turned out, but again a first for me.
So Thursday, a brilliant day of firsts, Crested Tits, Pine Marten and Badgers.
On to our last day, a fine sunny day gave us great views of Osprey, families of Rabbits and Peregrine Falcons around the hotel before we even set out for the day.
Our day started with a trip on the mountain railway up Cairngorm Mountain giving us fantastic views of the mountains and snow covered crevasses, Snow Bunting, with glimpses of Ptarmigan, Lapland Bunting and Ring Ouzel, all pretty good before lunch.
After lunch we headed for a Loch a lovely elderly couple on Chanonry Point had told us about, to possibly see Osprey and we weren't disappointed, wow!!! we parked the car and walked round the first corner on the public footpath and there were the Osprey, both flying around, fishing and dipping their feet in the water, a great end to our adventure along with a super meal in the Cairngorm Hotel, before the long Journey home the following day!!!
Cairngorm Male Snow Bunting (he just would not turn round!!!)
View from Cairngorm
Hotel Rabbits (from the bedroom window)
Scotland I / we can't wait to return, hopefully we will still be the same country!!!!!