Slavonian Grebe, Loch Ruthven
Day 4 of my trip covers the journey from Aviemore to Uig, Skye. Planned stops at Findhorn Valley, Loch Farr, Loch Ruthven and Kylerhea before catching the ferry to Lochmaddy.
I struck camp early to the sound of Siskins and Crossbills, gently moving the Early Thorn which found a home inside the fly sheet.
Early Thorn, Rothiemurchus Campsite.
I had the only Osprey of the journey while fuelling the car in Aviemore.
I drove up the A9 and turned off into Strathdearn, better known as the Findhorn Valley. My first real stop was at Findhorn Bridge to check for Dipper but I was the only dipper there. There were a few Oystercatchers and Common Sandpipers plus a pair of Goosander. The Findhorn was the only place where I saw Red-legged Partridge.
I drove half way along the valley to the forestry road that connects Findhorn with Strathnairn via Glen Kyllachy. Another look at the river gave away territorial Dunlin, Common Sandpipers, Curlew, Spotted Flycatcher and Dipper.
Dipper, River Findhorn. I must have been too close to the nest because it gave me hell.
I followed the road through Glen Kyllachy to Loch Farr. The Glen gave lots of Red Grouse and little else whilst Loch Farr produced the only Highland Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps of the trip. It also gave me my only Red Squirrel.
Looking West from Glen Kyllachy
Red Grouse, Glen Kyllachy
Coal Tit, Loch Farr
The drive from Loch Farr to Loch Ruthven gave Common Buzzard, Red Kite and female Hen Harrier. Loch Ruthven itself seemed devoid of small birds but did give Great Tit, very tame Willow Warblers, Stonechat and Cuckoo. The Slavonian Grebes performed to perfection. Red-throated Divers were also on the loch with a family of Little Grebes and a Raven flew over.
Daft Willow Warblers landed on me several times while they were courting.
Slavonian Grebes, Loch Ruthven
Not 2 Nessies but dancing Slavonian Grebes.
I decided to take some scenic pics at the last main stop, the Suidhe (soo-je) (Seat or sitting) Viewpoint.
Looking West - South-west over the Great Glen
Loch Knockie. The valley beyond is the Great Glen with Loch Ness at its bottom.
North-east along Stratherrick to Loch Mhòr
No stopping now. Fort Augustus to Road to the Isles then Kylerhea (Kyle-ray) on Skye to look at the Otter and Sea Eagle watch points. Didn't see either but the drive from Broadford to Kylerhea, along Glen Arroch, was very dramatic.
Kyle Rhea and Glen More from the top of Glen Arroch
I decided to make a rush for the ferry at Uig and got there with time to spare. Tried to book in only to find that it wasn't my ferry. I had got my times wrong and mine wasn't until 9:40 the next morning. Consoled myself with watching Razorbills, Black Guillemot and Great Northern Diver in the bay and Golden Eagle over the cliffs.
This Black Guillemot caught a fair sized Gurnard and spent 45 minutes biting off the spines before swallowing it. Uig
Rock Pipit, UigI decided to wild camp at the Quiraing, that weird collection of rock formations on Northern Skye. Not many species but the biggest Parliament of Ravens I've ever seen with in excess of 200 birds roosting.
2am at The Quiraing.
Episode 5 will be the ferry journey and North Uist. Coming soon.