Monday, 20 May 2013

Now where was I...

Oh yes, before I was so rudely interrupted by some actual news of a Dusky Thrush in Kent, I was in the middle of stringing out old news from a Scottish trip. This was so long ago it's almost a history book. So to recap: I crossed the border at Carlisle, evaded the Pictish hordes, then made my way to North Uist when it was still joined to the mainland by a landbridge, where I saw most of my targets: Corncrake, Twite, Woolly Mammoth etc. Hitching a lift with some Norsemen on a longboat to Oban, I avoided the construction traffic building McCaig's Tower just in time to head off for a B&B a few miles from Fort William.
Pine Marten at Glenloy Lodge
After my bizarre encounter with a Corncrake in the garden of a croft in the Outer Hebrides the previous day, hopes were high of another patio tick: the Glenloy Lodge has a reputation for regular sightings of Pine Marten. I had assumed this would be an after dark job, and had planned to carry on birding until the sun went down before arriving. On the advice of the owner, however, I got there for 1800.
I had to wait for the Pine Marten to retreat to the bottom of the steps to get the full creature in shot, even with a 28-80mm lens
Dumping my bags in my room, I set up in the conservatory with a variety of camera bodies and lenses. If the Pine Marten came to the steps in front of me, the 400mm was clearly going to be too big, so I thought a 28-80mm would probably be the best bet. After a tense half hour wait, there was a clatter of feet on the roof, then a face peered over the gutter into the conservatory. The proprietor appeared with some titbits to place on the wall. No sooner had he turned his back than she (I'm reliably informed it was a she) was back on the steps to take the bait.
'You want cheap car inshoorance?'
I was the width of a window away from the Pine Marten but followed the advice to keep the doors shut as the smell of a stranger, rather than the sight, could have caused it to bolt. Photographing through glass is always tricky, but there could be no complaints with views like this. It was my only 'tick' of the trip, and a memorable one as I had never seen a Pine Marten despite many visits north of the border.
Pine Marten taking afternoon tea, my hire car in the background 
Just a few more days of the Scotland report to get through now, so come back soon for my next post, and details of a real Scottish rarity...

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