Thursday, 28 May 2009

Highland visit - Lochs and Findhorn

A rainless day but the stiff chilly breeze meant that coats were still the order of the day! Fuelled by full Scottish Breakfast, we planned to take in a couple of key Lochs and the Findhorn valley.

The road to Lochindorb was a Red Grouse stronghold, (aren't all the roads near here?) Red Grouse were continuously present and showing well....

or not so well, throughout the moorland journey.

Lochindorb itself was quiet but produced some classy birds. The first was one of two Black throated Divers - in full Summer plumage! If only they would come closer to the shore.... but of course they didn't!

The first Osprey of the day was seen here too!

Loch Ruthven was next and the wind had whipped up a bit a swell on this small Loch. A Red throated Diver was up the far end and at least four Slavonian Grebes were seen - again in Summer plumage, this pair in the bay near the car park!

The finale was a walk down the Findhorn valley. We didn't have time to walk the full length so settled for just the straight track section - boy is this a long way!!

I'd carried the big lens (just in case) and it was a matter of constantly scanning the ridges for raptors - hopefully something special?
Raven, Common Buzzard and Kestrel were our only spots until a magic moment, just as we were about to retrace our steps...

A plucky Kestrel was having a go at bigger bird. Hey, wait a minute - that's not just bigger - this bird was HUGE! Very distant as well but a record shot was managed to capture the bird of the day - Golden Eagle!!!

A second CY individual the white tail base and white patches to the underwing showing it was not an adult. It glided briefly away from the Kestrel, then stooped dramatically behind the ridge, leaving a few relieved smiling faces!

Another fantastic evening meal including 'Haggis tower' was followed by a briefing from our three guides for the following day....

We were to attempt - with a forecast for the hottest day of the year - a climb to the summit of Ben Macdui - plus hopefully a few birds on the way? They didn't pull their punches, this was going to be tough - real tough and they didn't manage to put me off.....