Saturday, 14 May 2011

Cairngorm and Alpines

Thursday May 12
The first funicular up Cairngorm leaves at 10.00a.m., we were on it. Several flights of stairs and a wrong turn later, we were on the outside viewing platform. Boy, what a penance. We stuck out the howling, cold, wind and occasional rain flurries for an hour before retiring to the Ptarmigan cafe for soup and a roll. That was the only Ptarmigan we saw all morning before giving up and catching the 1.00 train down. The visibility varied from a mile to (mostly)several feet.
As we were about to join the two way part of the access road, a black bird stepped into a roadside bush. A male Black Grouse. What a delightful surprise.
Lochindorb before going back to the chalet - the pretty way! I was able to photograph a male Red Grouse, the rain certainly brings them out into the open.

The Famous Grouse
A swimming Black-throated Diver was our first freshwater view of the trip.
Amazing. No Common Sandpipers to-day.
A charming baby Lapwing trotted across the road in front of us before a calling parent sent it scuttling to play dead beside the loch.

Much prettier on its spindly little legs.

You can't see me....
After a coffee, we went to the hotel to access the internet, then back to prepare dinner before setting off for Tulloch Moor. We'd been told that a couple of Black Grouse showed in the evening. Pam climbed to the viewing platform and signalled that she could see them. By the time I got there - fairly quickly - they'd disappeared. Just as well we'd seen one earlier! Pam was put out but, she got the reward for her persistence.
Returning via the loop road, Pam stopped, thinking she had seen a Redstart. Looking up, I saw another Crested Tit foraging in the branches. Fantastic.

Our usual last day is to try and catch up with missed birds or to potter about in the area.To-day, we gave up on the Caper - too early a start, and the Ptarmigan - bad weather, to drive to Inshriach Alpine nursery. After the usual mouth watering selection of alpines, perused and bought, next stop was the cafe. For two reasons. They have a massive feeding area high up in the trees outside a balcony bar and stools which overlooks a steep drop to the valley below. Secondly, they have fantastic cakes. Pam had carrot cake, I had chocolate and raspberry. Couldn't resist photographing the Red Squirrel and Siskin with begging baby, despite the rain in the background and the heavy shade against the light.

Feed Me

That's Better
Insh marshes RSPB reserve was as birdless as always. The hide overlooks an enormous expanse of marsh. We found Redshank, Grey Heron, Curlew and half a dozen Roe Deer whilst we were waiting for the heavy rain shower to ease. The few Swifts passing through are always a delight. The eastern Europeans had left before the rain, two other birders and us had to sit it out.
Glen Feshie was quiet too - still raining......
We gave up. Did a last shop in Tesco and came home to pack up for to-morrow. Hateful job. All those bits to find room for. And....the vacuum has a large split in the hose, blows out air!
A last hurrah. An Osprey flew over as we drove to the chalet.
Friday May 13

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