Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Hello, and sorry for the long time no blogging. I've just got back from two weeks in the Spey Valley, based at Nethybridge, on a (doomed) quest to see a Scottish Wildcat. Needless to say, I took thousands of photos of other things instead. The weather wasn't great, cold and grey mostly with some snow in week 2, but I did have a few sunny intervals. Here, in no particular order, are some photos.

Female Chaffinch by Loch Garten, waiting for a handout of food.

One of several Coal Tits that visited the garden of my holiday cottage.

Common Buzzard, this was by the river Spey on the way to Grantown, one of a group of four all thermalling on a sunny morning.

Crested Tit in Dell Woods, the bit of Abernethy Woods that is nearest to where I stayed. Noisy little critter!

This Crestie was further south in Abernethy Woods, near the Loch Garten Osprey Centre.

 Crestie again, in Dell Woods.

This Dipper lives on the river Nethy, in the centre of Nethybridge village. I did walk much further along the river several times, but only saw the Dipper on the village stretch.

Feeder by the Osprey Centre, which is shown on a streaming webcam in winter, when there are no Ospreys at the nest.

A female GSW in my cottage garden. She and her mate were in lively springtime mood with lots of chasing, calling and drumming.

Goldcrests are common in the pine woods. This one was near Loch Garten.

Another inhabitant of the river Nethy, a female Goosander.

Grey Heron, seen from the Speyside Way just east of Nethybridge.

The fields around my cottage were attracting flocks of pukka wild Greylags.

Most of the crows around here are Carrion so I was surprised to find a Hoodie. Pity I couldn't manage a better photo of it... taken at the Highland Wildlife Park, a zoo near Kingussie.

One of a small flock of Lesser Redpolls on the Speyside Way.

Long-tailed Tits were pretty common around the village.

An Oystercatcher flying over the Spey.

This Oystercatcher flock was at the Highland Wildlife Park, rubbing shoulders with bison, Przewalski's Horses and other exotica in the 'safari' area.

A hen Pheasant foraging in a horse paddock one VERY cold and frosty morning.

A few Pink-footed Geese over the Spey.

Lots more Pinkfeet in fields by the Spey.

This crossbill, photographed somewhere in the middle of Abernethy Forest, may be a Scottish Crossbill, but it may be a Common Crossbill. I have very little confidence in my ability to separate them... someone will come along now and tell me it's a Parrot Crossbill...

Aw. Red Squirrel. This one came to my garden each morning in search of peanuts, which were sometimes supplied and sometimes not. When the feeder had been filled, the squirrel painstakingly emptied it and buried the nuts all around the garden.

Massive tufts. When I was here in 2011 it was summer and the squirrels were tuftless, and so much less cute.

A snowy morning, and the squirrel shows where he's been jumping all over the garden.

This was a different squirrel, in a different garden.

Lovely sunshiney Robin, photographed in Aviemore while I waited for my lift to Nethybridge.

This Roe doe was in woodland along the Speyside Way near Grantown.

 ... and this Roebuck was in Abernethy Forest, in a small 'bachelor' herd.

Rook, making a racket. Lots and lots of Rooks and Jackdaws here.

Also lots of Treecreepers, in the forest, along the river path, in the gardens, you name it. I wonder if the lack of Nuthatches and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers here means a bigger niche for them.

I found a small flock of Waxwings in Aviemore on the day I arrived (Saturday 2nd, late morning, after an overnight coach journey from London - I was a zombie but still noticed that distinctive cresty shape).

Woodpigeons, everywhere. I liked the graphic look of this one's pine tree perch.

A Yellowhammer, along the Speyside Way.

The many Coal Tits that frequent the area around the Osprey Centre are extremely tame and gather in flocks to stare at you as you walk by. If you have brought food for them, they'll come and take it from your hand. It's all very Disney, or very Hitchcock, depending on your point of view.

Finally, a very nicely posing Blue Tit from the cottage garden. I had really painful blisters after several days of too-long walks and had to take it easy for a while - in this time I spent hours photographing the garden birds. And watching classic old gameshows on Challenge - a bit of a novelty for me as I've no TV at home. Whether you're in Kent or the Highlands, you can't beat a bit of Bluey.


Warren Baker said...

Well Marianne,
You just about saw ( and photographed ) the lot there!

You had better weather than we did LoL

Phil said...

Welcome back Marianne. Sorry the Wildcat didn't play ball, will you be trying again?
A lot of very nice shots of other stuff though, particularly like the Crested Tits and Red Squirrels.
Hopefully contact you soon re Rainham Marshes now that we're finally moved in!

Greenie said...

Marianne ,
Sounds like a really successful trip with great shots .
There are several species that I would like to get the lens on amongst those .
Wild Cat would have been the icing on the cake . Good reason for a return visit ?

Lou Mary said...


Some beautiful photos here, I do love the red squirrel one with the snowdrops in the foreground! Also brilliant crested tit pics and that yellowhammer is spectacular!


ShySongbird said...

What a great selection of photos Marianne. You saw so many lovely things. I would love to see Red Squirrels, Crested Tits, Crossbills, any flavour ;-) and Dippers, not forgetting the Hooded Crow. It sounded and looked like a wonderful holiday!

Mike Attwood said...

Shame about the wild cats but it certainly wasn't a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic stuff, M! Superb photos and great report. You'll just have to visit again for the cats. Best wishes, Graham.

Trees Planet said...

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