Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A real Scottish rarity...

In my last post I promised news of a real Scottish rarity, so here goes: sunshine. It was present for a whole day, and provided perfect conditions for a long day in the field with the camera.
Slavonian Grebe, Loch Ruthven
It started early with an excursion before breakfast which boosted the trip list with a Black Grouse in a roadside birch up Glen Spean, a pair of Goosander and four Grasshopper Warblers reeling along a half-mile stretch of the River Spean.
Slavonian Grebe, Loch Ruthven
After a hearty breakfast back at the Glenloy Lodge, scene of the previous night's encounter with a Pine Marten, I headed up the south side of Loch Ness towards Loch Ruthven. The RSPB reserve there is an excellent place to see breeding Slavonian Grebe from a hide without the risk of disturbance.
Sunshine over Glen Spean
It takes a bit of effort to get there, especially at the moment with the road north east from there to Inverness the subject of a closure, but pretty much every route to it takes you through some excellent habitat, so it's not exactly a hardship.  
Loch Ruthven
As I entered the reserve a tour party were listening to a Grasshopper Warbler and as I passed I jammed in on a Golden Eagle overhead, called by their guide - the birding equivalent of goal-hanging. Fortunately they had already been to the hide or it would have been a bit of a squeeze and I'd now be posting sniffy jibes about dudes who couldn't tell a Slav from a Yugo. Instead there was just a couple who had recently left Speyside, and who told me that Crested Tits were coming to the feeders at Loch Garten - good news as this was where I planned to end the day.
Common Sandpiper on a lochan just north of Loch Ruthven
I had arranged a B&B at Boat of Garten, so headed from Loch Ruthven towards Inverness and down the A9, but took at detour around the grouse moors of Lochindorb before making my way down to Speyside. The Loch itself held a Black-throated Diver and Common Sandpipers picking around the shore.
This Toad was behind the hide at Loch Ruthven
With Black and Red Grouse in the bag, the following day - the last full day of my Scottish trip - I would attempt to see the other two British Grouse species: Ptarmigan and Capercaillie. My next post will tell you how I got on.

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