Monday, 17 November 2014

Abernethy Forest again

I'm just back from another Scotland trip. Did not enjoy the best of weather or the best of luck but here are a selection of pics anyway - some mammals, some birds, some plants and (just because I can) some rather shonky landscapes.

Roe Deer first. These are very common in the area, and quite confiding (for wild deer).

Red Squirrels are plentiful too, though are easier to see in the gardens than the forest itself. This one was a regular visitor to the garden of the wee cottage where I stayed.

The river Nethy is pretty reliable for Dippers and Goosanders, though both are super-shy if they realise you are staring at them (or, worse, pointing a 300mm lens at them). I also saw, on one occasion, a whopping great fish that jumped out of the water at one of the slow, deep bits - I guess it was probably a big Brown Trout (looked too brown to be a Salmon).

A walk north along the Speyside Way on the only properly sunny day produced a range of nice stuff, including this lot - from the top, a very dark Common Buzzard, some genuinely wild Greylags, a Redwing and another Redwing, nicely posing Reed Bunting, and a very close but horribly lit Sparrowhawk. Also on this walk I saw Goosander on the Spey, lots more Roe Deer, a shy Bank Vole, a few distant Whooper Swans with the Greylags, some Yellowhammers, lots of Siskins, and a big, shy feral cat that would've quickened my pulse big-time had it been stripy tabby rather than black.

The garden bird feeder pulled in an endless stream of Great, Blue and Coal Tits, plus at least two different Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and the odd Chaffinch and Greenfinch. Oddly, though there were Siskins around (and I have photographed them on feeders here in summer) they didn't come down to the feeders at all.

Thanks to the feeder, I also had an experience that lots of you (at least, those of you who have gardens) probably have all the time, but it was a first for me - a close-range, perched, eye-level Sparrowhawk. Pity there was a big branch in the way. I did try to move to a better vantage point but the Sprawk was having none of it and shot over the hedge and away. The little birds were back within 10 minutes.

Another visitor to the garden tree was this female-type crossbill, which looks big-billed enough to me to be a Scottish Crossbill. There was also a nice chubby red male higher up in the tree, but unphotographable behind a mesh of twigs.

A last few locals, Robins, a Treecreeper, a lovely wee Goldcrest and a Pheasant up a tree.

Bit of scene-setting - backlit Bracken, a soggy web, and and a very thoroughly lichen-covered tree trunk. The lichen is one of the best things about this area - nearly every surface is strung with fluffy, dangly lichens and thickly crusted with silvery, leafy lichens. Probably best not to stand still too long.

Aaaand, the promised landscapey scenic views. I'm very much a clueless amateur when it comes to landscape photos. From the top, these are: sunrise over Dell of Abernethy, the Duack Burn near Nethy Bridge, main path through Abernethy Forest from the Dell, um... somewhere else in the Forest (I've forgotten), Loch Garten  looking moody (with about six pixels-worth of female Goldeneye in there just left of centre), the river Nethy, and a look along the Speyside Way towards Grantown-on-Spey.