Tuesday, 29 June 2010


We seem to have an abundance of sparrows up here this year. It's causing the odd punch-up on the bird feeders:




Though some species do manage to share it in peace:

Greenfinch & starling

Fortunately the hooded crow hasn't tried to hop on yet - he nearly breaks the fence, so I dread to think what he'd do to the feeder:

Hooded crow

I'm trying to make more time for photography in my life, so yesterday morning I went down to the beach for an hour before breakfast, hoping to see the otter. This was the best picture I got during that time:


Not encouraging!! But today I went to the puffinry at Drumholistan and got some of my best pictures to date, which cheered me up no end:








I was amazed how close they let me get - apart from the first picture with just the puffin's head in it, these are uncropped photos.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Catching up (or What I Did On My Holidays)

Work is getting in the way of photography unfortunately, but here's a quick catch-up. Went on the Scullomie to Sletell ranger walk and saw this rather fine palmate newt:

Palmate newt, Scullomie

Then it was off to Gairloch for a week with Mum and my cousin. Gairloch's very pretty:


And it was just my luck that after all the time I've spent looking for otters up here, the first time I get to photograph one is when it pops up in the bay in front of me as I'm having breakfast on holiday!

Gairloch otter

We saw some very dramatic weather at Red Point:

Red point

The astonishing Torridon mountain range:

Torridon mountains

The most photographed house on the Applecross peninsula:

Red roofed croft house

Great Skua:

Great skua (bonxie)

The intrepid explorers:


Sunday, 25 April 2010


Lots of them about at the moment. Spotted them at Lednagullin, Bighouse and West Murkle.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Sightings and this year's ranger walks

I'm going to try and record sightings here as well so that in years to come I have a record of what I've seen, when and where. So on Wednesday afternoon I was running on Melvich beach, slowed down to climb over the rocky section by the pier which I'd forgotten was there, and saw two wrens darting about in the rocks. They were nest building and didn't seem to mind my presence at all, I got within 8-10 feet of them.

The ranger walks are starting up again for the year and it's a good program. They're finally starting to charge for them, which I think is long overdue - previously it's been a voluntary donation, but our ranger generally forgot to ask at the end of a walk. This is what's on in my area this season that I want to go to:

Friday 7th May 12-3pm Scullomie to Sletell. Coastal hill walk to the abandoned post clearance settlement of Sletell. Lots of plants, hopefully displaying newts in pool.

Thursday 13th May 12-3pm Strathy Picts, Priests and pools. Walk to see the Pictish Priest's Stone, then on to the Rocking Stone (used to call the clan) and return via a lovely bog pool system. (I shall miss this one because I'll be on holiday with Mum and one of my cousins, but I did it last year - an excellent walk but over rough ground, so ankle-supporting boots definitely needed.)

Thursday 20th May 11am-2pm Invernaver. Wonderful wildflowers and archeology. Eat lunch in the remains of a Broch with stunning views. Return along one of the best beaches in Sutherland.

Friday 21st May 1-3pm Strathy Point Sea Watch. Look for whales and dolphins as part of Biodiversity Week. Telescopes provided, bring binoculars.

Tuesday 25th May 10am-3pm Ben Hutig. Stunning views, chance of golden eagle, ravens, moorland plants, returning along the top of Ben Hutig. (I did this 2 years ago, but the weather was so bad we came round the base of the Ben. It nearly killed me, but I'm a lot fitter now.)

Wednesday 26th May 2-5pm Armadale Burn. Enjoy a walk along this steep-sided river gorge, see masses of common primroses, other plants and archeology.

Tuesday 8th June 10am-2pm Watch Hill. Superb views over the Kyle of Tongue and beyond from Cnoc an Fhreiceadeain.

Saturday 12th June 12-2pm See the Point. Cliff top walk around Strathy Point headland. Sea caves, birds and superb show of sea pink. Possibly a whale, dolphin or porpoise.

Wednesday 16th June 2-5pm Portskerra to Melvich Dunes. Masses of coastal wildflowers and a bit of beachcoming for mermaids purses.

Wednesday 30th June 10.30am-12pm Puffin Watch. Join the ranger at the largest local puffin colony to view these popular clowns of the ocean. A telescope is provided, bring your binoculars and camears.

Friday 2nd July 12-2pm Strathy Point Sea Watch. Look for whales and dolphins at Strathy Point. Telescopes provided, bring binoculars.

Thursday 8th July 5-7pm Portskerra Sea Watch. Bring binoculars and look for whales, dolphins and porpoises with the ranger. Telescopes provided.

Friday 9th July 12-3pm Puffin Along to Melvich. View the puffins then enjoy a cliff top walk to Melvich Bay.

Thursday 22nd July 1-4pm Skerray's Stunning Coast. Lovely views across Torrisdale Bay and out to Island Nieve. High cliff top walk with great geology and plants.

Friday 23rd July 3-5pm Farr Bay and Bumblebees. Amble around Farr Bay with the ranger looking at plants and our bumblebee reserve. Hopefully see the rare great yellow bumblebee.

Wednesday 4th August 1-3pm Armadale Bay. Join the ranger on a bracing walk around Armadale Bay. Let's see if the dragon is roaring at the gloup.

Thursday 12th August 2-5pm Presentation and Sea Watch. Enjoy a digital presentation on whales/dolphins at Strathy Inn then out to Strathy Point for a guided sea watch.

Thursday 26th August 5-7pm Strathy Point Sea Watch. Early evening watch for whales, dolphins and porpoises. Telescopes provided, bring binoculars.

Tuesday 31st August 10am-1pm Talmine Treasures. Masses of beautiful plants including lesser butterfly orchids. Interesting geology and sea life en route to Port Vasgo.

Wednesday 1st September 12-3pm Armadale to Kirtomy. Fairly demanding hill walk passing the deserted settlement of Poulouriscaig and on to Kirtomy.

Saturday 11th September 11am-2pm Portskerra to Strathy Bay. Stunning hidden coastal walk with promontory fort and lime kilns. Fantastic views of the north coast.

Tuesday 14th September 10am-3pm Ben Arnaboll. Hill walk with fine views over Loch Hope and Loch Eriboll. Geology of the Moine, wildlife and a bit of recent history.

Saturday 2nd October 11am-2pm Scullomie to Strathan. Fantastic cliff top walk passing the abandoned post clearance settlement of Sletell.

Tuesday 5th October 10am-12pm Castle Bharraich. Interesting ruin, superb views over the Kyle of Tongue.

Saturday 9th October 11am-2pm The Borg to Dyke. Walk through the Dyke Forest and on to hill, west underfoot. Archeology and hopefully rutting deer.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Apologies for the radio silence

...but in the two months since I last posted, I've barely had time to pick up a camera unless it was to shoot pictures of beads.

I saw the otter again yesterday whilst walking the dogs - you guessed it, no camera. And, worse, the dogs chased it and caught up with it, though it swam off with no apparent injuries, a ginormous fish still firmly clamped in its mouth. Today I walked the dogs in the field and then went back down to the beach with my camera. No otter, but plenty of oystercatchers:



And it wouldn't be a beach birds set without a ringed plover in there somewhere!

Ringed plover

I think this is a female wheatear - I'm checking with knowledgeable people:

Female wheatear?

On the way back up to the house I took the opportunity to photograph my favourite sheep. This is Polly, she belongs to my neighbours and is due to lamb any day now:


I'm beginning to love sheep portraits - should I be getting worried??


Monday, 8 February 2010

Yet more deer

In snow this time, courtesy of a car-shopping trip to Inverness.

Deer in the snow

Deer in the snow

Deer in the snow

Sunday, 24 January 2010

More stags

Between Badanloch and the Garvault hotel this time.

Badanloch stags

Badanloch stags

One of these days I'll get up there in decent light...