Benachally 16-05-15

The pup and I set sail for Loch Benachally this afternoon. As per my previous post “Riemore Lodge and Loch Ordie” this is a special place for me. Growing up in Dunkeld my brother and I were sometimes treated to a fishing trip to Benachally. It is truly a wonderful place to visit and I set sail with the one intention of getting a Cuckoo photo. They seemed to be all around with calls emanating from every coppice and hillside. As we arrived I saw this Roe doe….

Roe Doe

Roe Doe

shortly followed by this wee herd of Fallows

Fallow

Fallow

We dumped the car and sure enough the Cuckoo calls became louder and seemed to be taunting me yet again! Elusive devils to say the least. On climbing the hill up we came across this Punky Ewe

Ewe

Ewe

and a wee wheatear, lovely birds….

Wheatear

Wheatear

Half way up, the vistas opened up to some really beautiful views

Lotl and Butterstone. Birnam hill in the background

Lotl and Butterstone. Birnam hill in the background

By this stage, the wind had really picked up and the going got just that wee bit harder, but I wasn’t to be daunted as the Cuckoo calls were ever more insistent and I was determined to see one and hopefully get a picture. Not to be at this juncture, but I did see this wee Meadow Pipit (heaps of them around)

Meadow Pipit

Meadow Pipit

We climbed a bit higher and Duchary hill was resplendent to the west

Duchary

Duchary

That was to change however as the wind pulled in a rather heavy shower. The wind now felt like a force 10 and I felt as if I was getting sand-blasted by liquid ball-bearings, the rain/hail was coming horizontal and I had nowhere to shelter. Lord, it felt fantastic! Made me feel alive, quality conditions in most excellent countryside 🙂

Eventually we reached the loch and as you can see, the “white horses” are fairly jumping

Loch Benachally

Loch Benachally

This particular loch holds many happy memories for me, mainly because it was the last place my brother, father and I fished together. I have also a few tales that I thought I’d share

Tale 1

On a fishing trip with my dad, brother and Beardie collie (Floyd), we ventured onto the loch and I rowed us up to the west end where we had always enjoyed good luck as far as the fishing was concerned. About half way across, the resident osprey ventured above us being mobbed by a Peregrine, what a site. Two glorious raptors only 50ft or so above us. But better was to come, an RAF Harrier came flying across right above them. Now, to get that shot of mans technology and natures ultimate flying predators would have been something else, however I didn’t carry a camera in those days but the memory lives on 🙂 Anyway, across the loch I rowed allowing my dad and brother to fish either side as my line was trawling out the back. My dad hooked one, then my brother, 2 quality specimens of Brown trout I must add. On reaching the west bank, my brother and dog decanted onto the bank as dad and I settled down in the boat fishing about 30yds from the banking. Now, there was not a drop of wind and the loch was like a mirror, almost motionless. As we fished I looked to see if Smurf (my wee bro) was having any luck and saw the blackest rain cloud I’d ever seen heading gradually our way. As I said, there was not a drop of wind and the cloud was taking an age to reach us but the sky was getting ever darker, more ominous as the minutes ticked away. Sure enough it reached Smurf and Floyd first but it was the weirdest thing, the rain fell almost like a curtain ever slowly inching it’s way towards us. By this stage it was torrential on the bank where Smurf was and I’m not sure who was wheeking loudest, him or the dog! However we didn’t laugh for long as we realised we were in a boat with no shelter. In reality we could have out-rowed the shower as it was moving that slow but we decided to rough it out. As the rain reached the boat we realised what a bloody stupid idea that was as the rain felt like bullets and were the size of thrupenny bits! Needless to say we were drenched but it was one of those moments that you relive in your mind with joy and a bit of laughter

Tale 2  

My best pal Steuart Ogilvie and I went to Benachally to do a bit of fishing. When we reached the loch, it looked very similar to the picture I posted, VERY windy, in fact more so. Again, we decided on the west end and pulled the boat out of the shed. Now the boat is bloody huge and a fair old weight but is brilliant in the water as far as fishing goes as it generally moves quite slow even without a drog. A drog is like an underwater parachute that slows the boat down when it is drifting. So, I lost the toss and had to row, that soon changed when we realised we were getting nowhere. So Steuart took one oar and I the other and we set sail. Now Steuart was built like a brick sh*t house door and it became apparent rather quickly we were starting to go round in circles due to the wind and Steuart’s superior rowing power. We changed tactics a bit and eventually got going. Now the loch is a fair size and it took us nigh on 45 mins if not more to get to the far side. We were slightly hampered by the bumble bees that kept landing in the boat for a rest as Steuart wasn’t too keen on them lol. Amazing creatures and we decided to think on our toes and use anything in our fly box that resembled a bumble bee, unfortunately no but we did find a few dead ones that might suffice. This idea, though being a good one, was destined to fail as every time we casted and started the retrieve, the bee fell apart!! Anyway, we had a really good day and decided that we better head back. It was only then that we realised that the wind had turned a full 180 and we had to row right back into the teeth of it yet again!!

Back to the walk! After deciding to head back we were walking along quite nicely when I saw this wee head pop up not far from me…..

Red Grouse

Red Grouse

…only for its mate to break cover just feet from us screaming its call of “goback goback”, to say we got a wee start would be a bit of an understatement!!! Talking of calls, the air was full of them, Curlews (love it), Oystercatchers and peewits (Lapwings), with the meadow pipits singing away it was lovely. Even the Cuckoo had started of its call again and must have thought about changing it to suit my efforts of photographing it, I’m sure it sounded more like “feckyoo feckyou”, dunno but I wouldn’t be surprised 😉

Further along I espied a large herd of Fallow on the hill

Fallow

Fallow

As I’ve said, this is a lovely place to walk and an elderly pair must have had similar thoughts as there was a stone immortalising their life and marking where their ashes were scattered, lovely.

16-05 grave

Not far from this point I saw this Whinchat, brilliant. It’s only the second one I’ve ever seen.

Whinchat

Whinchat

Not only that, I’m sure that I saw a Ring Ouzel. It flashed towards the ground a wee bit in front of me and instinctively I thought it was a Blackie and didn’t bother with the camera, only for the bird to turn my way, flash his white collar and fly back into the trees, typical lol.

As we reached the lower part of the walk and neared the car I saw these lovely Primroses

16-05 primrose

And a rather cocky Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher

So we got back to the car and had a quick cuppa before heading home.

Oh………..did I get a Cuckoo? Yup though rubbish pic but still a Cuckoo nonetheless Rhona 🙂

Cuckoo

Cuckoo

Cuckoo

Cuckoo

So yeah, a good day 🙂

Riemore Lodge and Loch Ordie

As a bairn staying in Dunkeld, my brother and I would often be treated to a fishing trip to Benachally. There were two routes to the loch, one via Riechip and leading directly to the loch by road; the other was by Riemore and dumping the car at the gamey’s house and hoofing it over the hill. Although a lot more arduous, I always preferred the latter as it gave time to enjoy nature. So today, we decided to relive a wee bit of my youth and go up to Riemore and Loch Ordie. It was a lovely morning with a wee nip in the air, sunny and a fresh breeze, enough to brighten up my thick head from my birthday celebrations from the night before 🙂 After leaving the car in a wee layby we walked up toward the loch. Now Coco ain’t that daft but he couldn’t work out the cattle grids and had to be carried across more than a few. After about 10 minutes walking, I looked to my left westwards and espied on the south side of Duchary hill a pair of birds. Initially I thought it was a Hen Harrier being mobbed by a crow but it was in fact a Red Kite…..

Red Kite and Crow

Red Kite and Crow

Red Kite

Red Kite

…apologies for the quality but the sun was pretty much right in my face and they were a good distance away, totally nothing to do with the red wine the night before, honest 😉

Anyway, we walked on with the joyous sound of at least 3 Cuckoo’s in the vicinity, unfortunately no pics. As we rounded a corner we were met with a Fallow hind and a pair of calves…

Fallow and calves

Fallow and calves

As we walked on, the cuckoo calls became more widespread and insistent, almost taunting me lol. Again no sightings but they were close. Closer still was this lovely wee Wheatear….

Wheatear

Wheatear

and Meadow Pippit

Lark

Meadow Pippit

…lovely birds both of them. On reaching the Loch (Ordie) I was very hopeful of seeing an Osprey but no such luck. However, we got even better, this Kestrel (rubbish pic I know)

Peregrine

Kestrel

As the pup and I had a dena-stick and a cup of tea respectively, we were treated to quite a few Brown Trout feeding plus this Common Sandpiper bopping about the shore

Sandpiper

Sandpiper

There were a few Meadow Pippits knocking about plus this rather brazen Black-faced lamb….

Black-face lamb

Black-face lamb

As always, I have the dog on a lead going through livestock even though he is well trained. But to both our astonishment, the bloody lamb (6 weeks old at most) had the temerity to charge at the dog!!!! I didn’t know whether to laugh or run tbh, needless to say the dog was for the latter 😉 As we walked on down the hill we saw the Fallow yet again

09-05 fallow calves

And so, as we walked the road back to the car with the songs of the Pippits and Larks and the mocking of the Cuckoo in our ears, we promised a revisit although the next time we’ll take the round about way via Benachally and Loch-na-Chat

 

 

Pine Marten part 2

…In the name of the wee man, even though we are into May, it was blooming nippy tonight up the Glen. It was a definite lazy Northerly wind, in fact it was that lazy it didn’t go round you, it went right through you!!!! So, how did the latest Pine Marten quest go? Apart from the wee hint in the opening sentences (it was really cold) it did eventually throw up a few photographic opportunities. My wee bud Rhona and I decided to go up the Glen as I’d promised a revisit after a previous disastrous outing of sitting for 3 hours seeing nothing but a very ticked off Roe buck, he gave us dog’s abuse! With his dog like “bark” after spotting us, we saw pretty much nothing. However this evening was a wee bit different. After sitting for about an hour watching various birdlife…..

Chaffinch

Chaffinch

Great Tit

Great Tit

we got a wee show, a flash of a red/brown rump and tail from the left disappearing behind some logs, a brief but tantalising sight of a nose and a cream chest, a back of our target feeding ………..

06-05 pm1

……..then a flash of that tail flashing back into the bushes.

Gutted isn’t the word to be honest as I truly believed that was it for the night. We did get a visit from a pair of Fallow hinds that were only a few yards from our vantage point but were really on edge and as soon as I lifted my camera they were off. After another hour or so of being completely frozen and hands turning to ice, we got a revisit from the Marten that lasted a good 20 mins.

06-05 pm2

06-05 pm3

06-05 pm4

06-05 pm5

06-05 pm6

I was really chuffed we both saw this absolutely gorgeous animal, a true honour and privilege 🙂

06-05 pm7

A wee video of this evening

An evening with a Pine Marten

On Friday (1st May), I was fortunate enough to visit a hide I know of to hopefully see a Pine Marten. Previous attempts had been a bit of a disaster but this evening was to be a bit more rewarding. I did the usual, buying bait (peanut butter-the chunky variety) from the local shop in the vain hope it’d work. After arriving at the hide, I laced the area with the bait and settled down for a long wait. Within two minutes, the logs were covered in Great tits then a wee Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

This was literally chased off as soon as it landed by this bad boy……

Pine Marten

Pine Marten

He mooched about for a few minutes before getting spooked by a quad. No sooner had it passed, then back he came……

01-05 pm2

01-05 pm4

01-05 pm5

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It sat about for a good 10 mins before disappearing just as quick as it came. Lovely and an experience that I hope to replicate very soon 🙂

Until then, here’s a wee video

 

 

Sweet and sour

The 18th of April may live long in my memory as possibly my best beavering moment to date. I seriously can’t convey the emotions that surged through my body this evening, and as the title of the post suggests, it was bitter sweet.

Due to the wind changing direction in the afternoon I decided to go to the Rattray side of the river. On the way down I spotted this bad boy trying to work out how to get into the fish farm.

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

I travelled down to the parking place feeling quite despondent having to go to the north side of the river, as the south side usually is the better viewing point but wind direction dictates where I sit so as not to spook the animals. However, on arriving at the north side I realised that my wee pal Rhona hadn’t arrived and was possibly on the other side of the river!!! I  decided to go see, knowing in my heart that I was possibly going to have a total wash out re sightings if I went to the south bank as the wind would just be blowing my scent right across the river right into the lodge area. However, after seeing my wee (and she is very wee) bud carrying her camera gear and bags back up the hill, I decided to just go with the flow and hope that the wind was gonna shift and we’d just chance our luck. So we went back to the river, Rhona apologising and saying let’s go to the other side etc, but to be truthful, neither of us could be bothered losing precious time by the river. So we settled at my normal spot right opposite the maternal lodge but I wasn’t happy, The sun was shining directly on us, the wind was coming over our right shoulders and was taking our scent slightly up river from the lodge. It wasn’t a risk I was happy to take so we moved a wee bit up river to a spot that didn’t offer as much viewing opportunities but hopefully didn’t alert the beavers to our presence. That is the main objective as far as I’m concerned, don’t freak nature out and nature will reward you. And how we were rewarded? Wow……………………………….

Mum appeared at 1949 looking totally resplendent…………………………..

Mum beaver

Mum beaver

she was really looking in great nick……………..

18-04 b2

She circled about for a minute or so, drifting with the current before deciding that all was ok and submerging and returning to the lodge.

18-04 b3 whoosh

To see these creatures at a relative close proximity is a privilege but to see them within a foot of you is a God given gift!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And that is exactly what we were blessed with, initially me then the both of us. As we were watching a few ripples in and around the lodge area we were treated with a viewing of a pair of adults socialising, pic ain’t great but it was special.

18-04 b4 2

As an afterthought, I’m now drawn to the conclusion that this may be maw and paw as opposed to yearlings. Both looked more adult than the other animals on show.

After these guys disappeared, everything went quiet for a while and Rhona and I ended up talking about how many special moments we had seen by the river, most of them shared. Unknown to either of us, the best was yet to come. When the 2 animals opposite us disappeared, 10 mins later there were ripples just below us and I had a wee sneaky peek. Now, me being the fantastic photographer that I am not, saw a youngster below us. It was laying low, only the head showing and I thought I’d get a great pic. However I’d left my lens extended and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t focus on the wee beastie. It was gorgeous, cute as pie and I missed the perfect shot!!!!!!!!!!!! NOT for the first time this evening unfortunately.

As night was setting we decided to call it over for the evening and headed back up the river. As we approached the burrow where dad has his summer residence we spotted ripples and sure enough there was a beaver. Stupidly I said “there’s the daddy” only to realise it was a wee beaver, one of last years kits. We tracked it up the river getting a few pics, but the light wasn’t great………..

18-04 b5

but we did get a decent enough pic.

As we followed the kit up, it stopped at a feeding station and was very evident on the banking. Getting photo’s was a different thing though as the light was against us and we couldn’t really focus on the animal. In reality there wasn’t a decent shot. Our presence obviously upset the wee guy and he went back into the water. Initially we thought we’d missed our chance but it went up the river, we stayed our ground, and the little beggar came right back. What was to follow was pure magic. After leaving the river, it sat on the banking for a minute or so then unbelievably started walking towards us. N either of us could get a pic but more to the point, neither of us could take it in that this wild animal was now browsing on wild garlic no more than a foot from us!!!!!!!!!!!! I could literally have put my hand out and touched its nose, our hearts were pounding but that fact that the animal was so close, and it WAS very close, we couldn’t get pics and it totally gutted me. Having any wild animal in such an intimate interaction is a heart-warming moment that will for ever be cherished. After feeding away it seemed to sense us, gave a very guttural grunt and started back towards the river. That’s it I thought, but no, he kept grazing for at least 5 mins

18-04 b6

18-04 b7

before slipping back into the river

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I honestly can’t convey my emotions regarding this evening, but having the yearling within touching range is/was and will always be something very, very special. Just a wee bit miffed I didn’t have the wee camera tonight, though I would have had to put it on macro settings due to the proximity lol. Great night and that’s the end of not only my tale but also of the beavers tail 😉

18-04 b9 tail

Cockrage moor

There are so many places that I really enjoy visiting but one of my favourites at this time of year has to be Cockrage moor and the walk up to it. This morning I had an unexpected opportunity to have a wee daunder up there. I left the house just after 7 and walked down Riverside, across the bridge and started walking up the river on the Blairgowrie side. First thing I saw was a pair of dippers, the one below just sat happily on the rock whilst he other was very busy pinging about in the river

Dipper

Dipper

Next thing was this lovely Chaffinch singing its soul out

Chaffinch

Chaffinch

So I continued up Oakbank rd hoping for a sighting of the Red Squirrels, sure enough they were there….

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel

a pair of them zipping about the canopy, lovely to see especially only 5 mins from my front door. I heard a jay roaring it’s head of behind me hoping to see him but instead there was a wee Roe grazing in the paddock

Roe

Roe

but I also spotted the jay, not a great pic but pleased to see him all the same

Jay

Jay

Not far from where I was, there is an old dry-stane dyke, and in one of the wee nooks is a Coal Tit building a nest, lovely wee bird………

Coal Tit

Coal Tit

…..and just beyond that there is a Greater Spotted Woodpecker nest and sure enough on a tree at the back was said woody drumming out his serenade on a make shift tom-tom 😉

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Continuing up the riverside I caught a glimpse of a Grey Wagtail sitting on a rock. He looked as if he was in stealth mode

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

On the river at present there are quite a few Goosanders, generally a male and 3 females.

Goosander (m)

Goosander (m)

Goosander (f)

Goosander (f)

On I walked and only got as far as the Lornty burn where I spotted another pair of Squirrels. In fact, the dog spotted them first and duly chased them up the tree. To say he got a roasting is an understatement!!! Anyway, not a great picture but always a great sighting

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel

The area beyond the Lornty burn is usually a good bit to see hares but not so lucky today, did spot these though

A flock of Redwing

A flock of Redwing

and one sitting bonny in the tree for me

Redwing

Redwing

Within the flock there were also a fair amount of thrushes and I think a couple of Fieldfare but to be honest I couldn’t be sure. I actually thought the Redwing and Fieldfare disappeared from these shores around March but I’m obviously mistaken.

Thrush

Thrush

So onwards I went with a skip in my step……the moor beckoned. The musical cacophony supplied by the Yellowhammers, Chiffchaffs, Robins, Wrens and Pippits would gladden the coldest heart. The new-born lambs added to the moment, spring has definitely arrived.

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

Wren

Wren

Wren

Wren

Robin

Robin

As I approached the moor the amount of Meadow Pippits increased and I was delighted to see some Wheatears as well. Struggle as I did to get a picture of the male, I ultimately failed though I did get a few pictures of the female, beautiful bird

Wheatear (f)

Wheatear (f)

Meadow Pippit

Meadow Pippit

Meadow Pippit

Meadow Pippit

Meadow Pippit

Meadow Pippit

These birds are the general meal for the Hen Harrier and Short Eared Owl. I’ve seen both on the moor but never managed any decent photo’s. Now, as we were walking we flushed this raptor, not sure what it was, probably a buzzard but in my heart I hope it was the Hen Harrier but it doesn’t really look like one. Rubbish pic that makes ID difficult

harrier

Buzzards were around lower down the moor but this one didn’t rise particular high once we flushed it.

Buzzard

Buzzard

Buzzard

Buzzard

We decided to have a coffee, well I had a coffee and the pup had a few dog biscuits then we decided to head back. I was a wee bit disappointed that we hadn’t seen the resident herd of Fallows, but hopefully another day. On our way back we spotted a few grouse

Red Grouse

Red Grouse

and a hare in the same place that I’d seen one on Monday

Brown Hare

Brown Hare

I’ve used that pic as I wasn’t quick enough with the camera lol. So as we continued back we spotted this handsome Shetland just north of Drumlochy

Shetland Pony

Shetland Pony

An Aberdeen-Angus stirk

Aberdeen Angus

Aberdeen Angus

more Yellowhammers

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

Yellowhammer

As we rounded Drumlochy castle, we spotted “Glasclune Maggie”!!!! I’ve been trying to get a picture of this devil for a wee bit now and I’m glad to say that I eventually got him.

Glasclune Maggie

Glasclune Maggie

At Drumlochy itself, they keep Guinea Fowl, noisy beggars to say the least………………

Guinea Fowl

Guinea Fowl

As we came down the wee glen, I was delighted to see a Goldcrest

Goldcrest

Goldcrest

a Dunnock…….

Dunnock

Dunnock

a Doo……

A cooshy Doo

A cooshy Doo

and a flock (5 or 6) Bullfinches

Bullfinch

Bullfinch

As we neared the Lornty bridge the roaring from 5+ jays was something else. I only managed these rubbish pics unfortunately

Jay in flight

Jay in flight

Jay hiding

Jay hiding

So, after 5 hours walking and approx. 12 miles covered I reached the river again and there were the Goosanders to greet me back.

Goosanders

Goosanders

An altogether lovely morning.

The start of a new season

As a few of you will know, there is one thing that really gets my heart racing, and that is sharing my love of the beavers with others. Whether it is taking people to the river, giving talks to school kids or just generally speaking to complete strangers, my passion for it is there to see. The look on people’s faces when they see the beaver for the first time is truly incredible and the obvious joy and wonderment in that first sighting really makes my heart soar. In truth, there is nothing to beat the sharing of that encounter with others, though private and personal evenings are equally joyous.

On Thursday the 12th March, I took a wee wander with my pup down to the river, 1st time I’ve been down for some time to be honest. Previous escapades have resulted in blanks and a feeling of worry as the lodge/burrow has been made very obvious due to flooding and the scouring of the bank. This resulted in quite a few of the trees and bushes protecting the lodge being either flattened or ripped out altogether. This, plus the fact I hadn’t seen either the resident family or obvious feeding stations started me thinking the worse. The local farmer is not a major fan either and I honestly was beginning to think I’d lost my family of beavers to one thing or the other. So, it was with a wee bit of trepidation and no-hope, we wandered down to the river. The day had been a particular warm one, if not a bit on the damp side and the Ericht was running high due to the obvious rainfall and snow- melt. Typical to my luck at present, I’d forgotten to take a camera, and how I cursed myself after reaching the lade! There, only feet from me, were 2 adult beavers taking shelter from the river in the slow running water of the old mill lade. To say it was a double edged sword is pointing out the obvious, as I saw the beasties but had no way of sharing the experience.  I was gutted as much as I was excited but (“every cloud” as Tina says) it gave me the wee jolt I was needing, they were still there, they were still alive. Quality.com 🙂 Granted, they didn’t hang about long but I still got a few moments watching them. The bigger of the 2 (mum I think) was pretty laid back until the smaller adult decided enough was enough and gave me a very impressive tail-splash, mum followed suit, but it seemed to be a half-hearted affair. Over the years watching this family, mum seems to be quite a chilled out animal apart from when the kits appear, then she is a bit more “on point” as my eldest would say.

Friday evening, I popped back down with  no success, then went to a  local loch to see if I could get a sneaky peek. This loch has been a bit of an enigma to me to be honest, tried trapping it a couple of years ago with no joy, but there is so much obvious activity it is unreal!!!! However, regardless of only 2 sightings over 2 years, and a few warning tail-splashes,  I have found a lovely wee observation point not far from the lodge, so hopefully I’ll have some pics/vids this year of that particular location. Re location, it’s awesome and honestly what you’d expect as typical beaver habitat, almost Canadian in outlook. Almost!!!!! lol. Saying that, Scotland, and in particular Tayside, is a really beautiful place when you open your eyes and heart to it. There are so many hidden gems at your/our doorstep.

Saturday, my usual early morning saunter with the dog and camera didn’t quite pan out as I’d hoped. It wasn’t ’til well after 11 that we got out. The skies were grey, light was poor and tbh my heart wasn’t in it. Stormont loch and Hare’s Myre were the designated walk, hoping to catch a bullfinch or two, Red Squirrel’s, maybe Goldcrest or something interesting on either loch. Not to be however, though Coco did flush a couple of reds, no decent pics though. Goldeneye and Tufties were in abundance on both lochs, Mutes (12+) on Stormont but again no pics. We were also given a choral greeting by a pair of Tawny’s, this to me was a brilliant experience, as it was truly unexpected. As evening approached, the skies cleared and my 4 legged buddy and I popped down to the loch. At arriving we were greeted with a Roe doe feeding where I park up, lovely to see, impossible to get a pic. We ventured down to the loch and sat for a bit among the reeds. I will have to share some pics of the area as it is brilliant. The beaver has gouged out areas near to the lodge for mud to make his home, in doing this they are almost making their lodge inaccessible via terrestrial access. I don’t know if this is meant or just by default, but either way it is a sight well worth seeing. So, nothing to see at the loch I went to the river. On reaching the path I was greeted with a bloody big splash. Beaver!!!! My heart jumped a beat or two, they’re here 🙂 Doubt vanquished, I trod on to my usual viewing stations and I was rewarded with a couple of brief sightings. After a wee bit, headed back and again I was rewarded with a beautiful sighting of a decent sized yearling, “SPLASH”. Hey, regardless of minimal sightings, the briefest encounter really is special. Try it, you’ll love it

A mixed bag

To say I’ve had a mixed week is to truly point out the obvious. From spending an excellent Saturday evening with family, to then realising my efforts on FB were a bit dodgy to say the least. I decided to leave my FB page for a wee bit due to health issues, generally this nasty depression shit that has cursed me this past wee while. Anyway, as alluded to, it’s been a mixed bag of a week, which as I said started with a lovely Saturday evening with my family. Sunday started great with a few pics of this buzzard,

buzzard

………….love them regardless of their recent abundance, but still a raptor that I have to photograph if given the chance, and why not? Quality bird, true survivor.

Canada geese are always a fave of mine as well, due to the fact I CAN recognise them!!!!

canada goose

So Sunday merged, as it does, into Monday, rubbish day tbh, sleet, snow, rain which just really manifested into a deeper feeling of gloom. Sorry guys, not my usual up-beat self but life sometimes really sucks! HOWEVER, of to a new job on the Wednesday cleaning a bit of Perth lade, Lord don’t take my words in vain but ffs, depression just hit a new depth!!! I appeared and was met with a sight that really broke my heart

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Seeing this abomination should really be a matter for the police or council to take up, but regardless of the politics, it really cut me to the bone. What could live in a crappy hole like this? Well, you’d really be surprised. A pair of electro-fishers contracted in had seen a Water Rail!!!!!!!!!!!! NO SHIT, but I got a fleeting glimpse myself and could not believe it.

 

Water Rail - courtesy D Gow

Water Rail – courtesy D Gow

Not only that, a dog otter feeding pretty much daily at the outlet of the Goodlyburn (again, fleeting glimpse), kingfishers (yeah, I know, boring but another fleeting glimpse) bloody frustrating to me tbh. However, on an upside I did get pics of these guys

Shrew

Shre

 

Puddock

Puddock

Eel

Eel

I rescued quite a number of eels, though they are quite a hardy breed. I think I threw over 20 back into the lade on Wednesday alone. Add a few toads, frogs and a puckle sticklebacks, I felt I did OK over and above my real job.

Had a really rubbish day on the Thursday, questioning everything but thanks to my pal bolstering me and a chance sighting of 2 beavers by the Ericht, which typically I remembered to forget my camera!!!!!!!!!!!! amounted to another missed opportunity. Hey, life goes on one way or another. Away to bed but listening to Joey B as I’m writing this, quality musician, feel good dude even though he plays the blues. Take care guys xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Beaver by moonlight (part 1)

May I just suggest the above title as it’s great fun. Over the past few years as most of you that know me will contend, I’ve done this on more than a few occasions. There have been a few memorable experiences and I’ll share a few on this and future posts.

3 years ago, mid January -6 and me on the banks of the Isla. Imagine the scene, I park the car at Crathie brig, and walk down the fresh snow that had fallen on the bank leading to the Isla. I’ve got my head torch strapped to the head and a hand held torch in my hand, both switched off. I sneak down towards the river making little or no noise towards a known feeding station. As I get to the the river, I crouch down on my hunkers, get myself comfy and switch on my torches. I’m acutely aware of something only a few feet from me and turn the hand held torch and my head to check it out and there, literally 2 ft from me is a young beaver sitting on the bank with a stick in it’s hands looking totally shell-shocked at this numpty sitting beside him by the banks of the river. Now, what amazed me more than the fact I managed to get so close, was the point that this particular animal just put down his repast, gave me a totally ticked off look and walked in a total huff back into the river as if it was something that happened everyday and slipped quietly back into the river. Totally surreal to be honest. Anyway, I decided to walk along the Isla towards the lodge, which is a huge construction by the way, measuring 9.5m x 4.5m externally with a height around 4ft at it’s highest point. So, off I did trot and spotted a couple of animals in the river but they quickly disappeared as the wind was totally in the wrong direction. I walked to the lodge without seeing anything more but on my return I came across a kit sitting on the floodbanks chomping away quite happily on a branch. He was pretty non-plussed as I approached but decided once I got within 10ft it was time to bail out. As I walked back with the freezing air ripping shreds out of my lovely complexion (lol), it became clear there were other wonders to be witnessed as the beavers weren’t seeing or hearing me, but more importantly, weren’t smelling me (NO comments please). As I got to the east side of the brig, I was getting regular sightings of a beaver tracking me up the river. Now, I’d done a wee reccy of the area the day previous in daylight and had spotted on the opposite bank, a sycamore that had been half chewed and some willow that was an obvious hot-spot for feeding. As I approached this point with the watchdog beaver in tow, I could hear the chewing and nibbling of our furry pals. And sure enough, there on the banking not 30ft from me were 2 animals lit up by the moonlight. My joy at seeing them was short lived however as my little tag decided to warn the others of me being very close to them. I’ll tell you this, when you are not expecting it, a tail-splash by a beaver is a pretty heart-stopping, adrenaline inducing affair. Now, multiply that by 3 as the other 2 beavers followed their family member by hitting the water at various exit points left and right of me, it was loud and it was dark. Scary and totally exhilarating at the same time, a quality experience.

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However, that wasn’t the end of it. Thinking the beavers had probably disappeared, I thought I’d head up to the next wee lodge and see what was what. I sat down opposite the lodge and got myself settled in a nice wee spot downwind from the lodge. As alluded to earlier, it was -6 going by the car thermometer, but sitting by the river bank it was a good deal cooler and it wasn’t long before I started to think to myself “wtf are you like Bob? A total dumpling”. So yeah, I did have a wee giggle at my own expense, but so what? Take yourself too seriously and there’s no hope for you. So, here’s me sitting like a right muppet by a river bank, mid-January and sub-zero temperatures with a full moon and having a brilliant night, fantastic lol. Now, where I was sitting, the river is only 15-20ft wide but heavily wooded by willows. The close knitted willows offered a lot of cover and I felt really safe and secure in the knowledge that the beavers wouldn’t see me, certainly wouldn’t hear me and the wind was generally in the wrong direction for them to smell me, sorted me-thinks! As I’m sitting, I start hearing the tell-tale nibble of a beaver, VERY close to me. “Chomp, chomp, gnaw, gnaw” then a break, then “chomp, gnaw, chomp, chomp, gnaw” again. Totally and utterly transfixed I sat there, just hoping for a sighting but in reality just loving the experience until……………….” Creak” “Groan” “Creak””Splash” “Crack” “CRASH” !!!!!!!!!!! The beavers had felled the tree, and as it started to fall, the beaver jumped into the river with a splash but the bloody tree, instead of falling into the river, careered eastward parallel with the river and landed about 5ft from me!!! To say my heart was beating a tad faster would be a bit of an understatement and I decided to call it a night. But, the beavers had other thoughts as far as my evening of entertainment was concerned. I, now upwind of the colony, was greeted on my way back to the car, with tail-splashes, hisses, and just really rude behaviour to be honest lol. At the end of the evening, I looked back on my exploits and I truly must admit it was an evening I’ll never forget and one that I really enjoyed.

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Oot and aboot on the south side of Blair

Today I thought I’d go for a more leisurely wander towards the kettle lochs of Stormont and Hare’s Myre. Kettle lochs are really just glorified dubs (puddles) formed by retreating glaciers. So, firstly I popped down the back steps off Balmoral rd to the river to be pleasantly surprised with a trio of Goosanders, a Grey Heron and a Grey wagtail

Goosanders in flight

Goosanders in flight

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Grey Heron in flight

Grey Heron in flight

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

I’m sure this particular Heron is the main culprit for emptying my pond of fish, beggar took my prize carp which was weighing in at 2lb!!!! Hey ho though. After spending a wee bit of time at the river, I ventured along to Davie Park, nothing much doing tbh other than the mallards and this family of Coots

Family of coots

Family of coots

So, southwards I headed along Welton rd, popped down to the river there

Ericht

Ericht

and saw a robin and wagtail having a right go at each other

Robin and Grey Wagtail

Robin and Grey Wagtail

After having a right good look about and watching the pup testing his skills for the doggy olympics

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I headed towards Brucefield rd. On the way, I saw this young Bullfinch

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Juvenile Bullfinch

I was actually hoping to see some Roe and squirrels along this section, but though I did see a couple of Roe, my trigger finger wasn’t quick enough on the camera. No squirrels either! So along Golf Course rd I went and saw these wee spuggies

Spuggies

Spuggies

After traveling through the wood at Stormont loch I went to the east end and was chuffed to see this wee Dunnock…….

Dunnock

Dunnock

a wee wren…..

Wren

Wren

a skein of Canada geese overhead…..

Skein of Canada Geese

Skein of Canada Geese

and a Blue tit

Blue Tit

Blue Tit

I really like this edge of the loch as it usually offers up a lot of warblers. I did see a couple of Willow Warblers, but no matter how I tried I couldn’t get a picture. I did get this young Blackcap though….

Juvenile Blackcap

Juvenile Blackcap

Around the loch I went until I got to the south side, to be greeted by the honking of the Canada Geese. Overall there must have been 250-300 birds

Canada Geese & mute swans

Canada Geese & mute swans

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

Along with as many coots as I’ve seen and 100 plus Mute swans

Mute Swans

Mute Swans

and a Great Crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

Traveling west and northwards around the loch there was nothing much else showing face, though the jays were giving it big licks but typically unsighted. From the loch I traveled westwards parallel with the golf course hoping to see a Green Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker

Green Woodpecker

However, not to be on this occasion.

However, there was this tree that had a Greater Spotted Woodpecker in it earlier in the year, it was actually quite funny walking past it, as you could hear the youngsters drumming away inside of it from quite a distance.

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One other thing in the wood, was a vast and plentiful array of mushrooms and the like, some of them quite spectacular.

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So I headed towards the White Loch, as I was walking I got a great view of Benachally and the hills to the west

Benachally hill

Benachally hill

Other than a few tufties

Tufty

Tufty

there was nothing to see on the loch itself but I did see a wee treecreeper

Treecreeper

Treecreeper

After circling round Darroch and Ardblair woods, I headed up the Weasley rd and saw this Buzzard overhead

Buzzard

Buzzard

I’ve had better pics of a buzzard

Buzzard

Buzzard

 Anyway, homeward bound and I must admit I got a wee bit downhearted when I noticed the changing colours of the leaves and this conker lying on the ground

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Conker

Conker

But seeing this wee Robin and a family of spugs made me smile

Cock o' the North - Robin

Cock o’ the North – Robin

 

Sparrows

Tree Sparrows

So, even though I thought I hadn’t seen much on my 5 hr wander today, looking back I had quite a pleasant day

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