Friday, 8 July 2011

Speyside - the garden

We just had a week up in Speyside, Scotland. Home now, with good memories plus thousands of photos to sort through. I'm going to do several posts about it, beginning with a bit about where we stayed.

Our cottage, South Dell, is one of five (I think) in the Dell of Abernethy, down a lane that starts in Nethy Bridge village and ends on the doorstep of Abernethy Forest. Unsurprisingly, there was lots to see in the grounds, and I spent a fair bit of time pointing the camera out of the kitchen window.

The grounds were mostly lawned but there were a couple of apple trees. The one opposite us had a peanut feeder in it, which attracted an endless procession of birds. We had Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches, Greenfinches and Siskins, plus the odd Goldfinch and House Sparrow.

The fun stopped, temporarily, for the little birds when a bigger bird showed up. This young Great Spotted Woodpecker (or maybe there were more than one, but we only saw one at a time) spent huge amounts of time battering away on the feeder. It wouldn't tolerate any other bird using the feeder at the same time...

... unless that other bird was Mum. When the feeder was in use by the peckers, the Chaffinches would gather on the grass below and pounce on nut fragments as they fell.

The woodies weren't top of the pecking order, though. This beautiful blonde-tailed Red Squirrel visited every day. A different, darker-tailed one also visited once, but was soon chased off by Blondie.

The first time I saw Blondie, I'd hoped for some 'away from the feeder' shots but he didn't oblige, skittering off very quickly down the garden when he was full of nuts. The second time he was more willing to pose, and paused for a moment on the stone wall that separated the garden from the driveway up to the cottage.

I started putting sunflower seeds on that wall, in the hope of some more posers. Along came a river-dancing Dunnock.

Fledglings were much in evidence. Here's a gorgeous young Blackbird.

And an equally lovely Robin youngster, already showing signs of an incipient red breast.

This young Chaffinch was capably feeding itself, but as soon as dad showed up it reverted to helpless-baby mode and begged with curious swaying head movements until it received a free meal.

I was keen to photograph the Siskins, as we don't have many pics of this species. Got lots of pics of them on the feeders, and a few of this beautiful male in the apple tree.

Besides everything shown/mentioned above, the garden was also visited by Jackdaws, Pied Wagtails and overflying Swallows and Oystercatchers. All in all, a perfect base for the wildlife nutter - and Abernethy Forest is two mins' walk away. If you fancy a stay at Dell of Abernethy, the cottages' website is here.

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