Monday, 29 April 2013

Rain, Sun and Dolphins

Sunday April 28

We woke to rain which continued until Munlochy Bay on the Black Isle. As we descended into Inverness on the A9, it became tempestuous, with an accompanying near gale force wind. What were we doing out? We wasted some of the rainy time in Inverness Tesco, doing some essential shopping.
Chanonry Point was a useful place for me to have my first meal, watching a very choppy Firth. Quick yelp from me...’Dolphin’. The jug containing my meal was hastily abandoned and photographs attempted. Have you ever tried photographing dolphins? One doesn’t know where and when they are going to surface next and I was trying from the car over the wing mirror in the rain. Miraculously, I managed one.

 A single Fulmar flew past but nothing else.
Munlochy was pretty empty too, a few Wigeon, Teal, Curlew and Oystercatchers.
Udale Bay is an RSPB reserve on the Firth of Cromarty, the firth is also a naval centre. The tide was well in, groups of Oystercatchers and Gulls roosting on a spit where I scoped our only Dunlin of the trip, just one. Around the corner 500 Pink-footed Geese strolled into view as did a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers.

Cromarty Point gives a very high view of the Firth Mouth - scenically good but only gulls in view to-day. Cromarty is lovely, boats, little houses huddled around the harbour, the road hugs the shore. What’s more, we had three hours of sunshine early afternoon.
That soon changed as we reurned to the A9 and Inverness. It chucked it down again from a navy blue sky. We decided to take the Grantown Road from Nairn instead of the dull A9 to Carrbridge - via Lochindorb. A Raven crossed the road in front of us. At last, we shall see plenty on Mull though. Rainy sleet became sleet which changed to snow. It was 1C on the car thermometer. Sitting at the end of the loch trying to see through a white-out was ridiculous. The Osprey which flew in and did a tour of the loch thought so too, it soon flew back from whence it came.
Driving on to where the Black-throated Diver nest is situated was madness too, we couldn't see across the water. I had to get out for urgent reasons, risking exposure, Pam saw a Merlin...........
Hurrah, the snow stopped and the Red Grouse came out to play, I saw at least eight in flight and a lovely male called from a ridge above the road. 

A female showed very well on the road but the mirror obscured her until she ran up the hillside. A male Wheatear showed itself for a brief visit.
We left just before 6 p.m. in lovely sun, blue sky and golden evening light. April showers.

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