Monday, 24 October 2011

Out of My Area: Cairngorms National Park

When you've had a tough couple of weeks and you feel like you've had no time to yourself what so ever you have a number of options, carry on regardless like there's nothing up, take some time for yourself to truly relax, or (like I decided to do) stress yourself completely by having 3 early morning calls ups, driving 600 miles, meeting complete strangers, and tramping off into the unknown.

My antidote for the last fortnight's frustrations was to pack up the car and head first to meet friends at Pitlochry to check out the dam and fish ladder (now known as the "Damn Fish Ladder"), then up to Lossiemouth on the banks of the Spey, then down to the Ladder Hills to conquer a couple of Corbetts, then back to work this morning. And you know what, It was damned good fun. Here are some pictures. I'm going to bed!

The "Damn Fish Ladder"!

My wonderful hosts for the weekend, Lou and Daz

R. Tummel

Me and the Fish Counter 9000

Out over the Ladder Hills

Lou and Glen Livet
The Motley Crew

A Cairn on a Corbett....

Elusive Sunshine

And the Black Grouse...

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Best of Autumn (so far)

I know, I know, I've been lax on the posts recently. This has been one hell of a busy time with loads to do at work and the onset of the rain keeping me indoors, but the sunny days have been good, and the migrants have begun moving through en masse giving plenty of excuses to run away on a lunch break and get out on the boats with the boss.

So in no particular order, here are some of the highlights of the last two months!

The spate of wet miserable days has bought plenty of birds to the feeders

They're so used to me now I can fill the feeder next to them and they don't move a muscle
There have been great foraging opportunities particularly the wild blackberries and mint

And boat trips continue to turn up feathery friends including guillemots


A couple of Uni groups gave me excuses to escape the office and enjoy good weather

providing great views even if we occasionally had to lure the birds in

Many of the younger birds are all too keen to get up close for a free meal...

...their curiosity are general cheekiness mean that the gulls still star in most of my pictures
Going to Ballochmartin Bay after a tip off from the Boss of big group of Merganser yesterday I found 8 Little Grebe foraging along the shoreline

.... along with the Merganser themselves

Saturday, 15 October 2011

New Friends and Name Dropping...

Hello from the South! Today's update comes fresh from the first ever Wildlife Xpo, exhibitions and lecturers organised by the wonderful Wildlife Extra.

Setting out this morning with my wonderful assistant Rachel, cameraman Matt and a huge packed lunch we made a beeline for Alexandra Palace. 

If you fancy going along next year be prepared for a range of stalls from well known charities, tour operators, optics manufacturers, artists and local interest groups as well as wonderful talks from Chris Packham, Andy Rouse, Mark Carwardine, Nick Baker and Bill Oddie. Wear comfy shoes and bring enough liquids as its blooming warm inside and the park is well worth a walk round (we spotted jays, green woodpecker and numerous others just on the way to and from the train station). 

Keep your eyes peeled as you wander round, you don't know who you'll bump into

There's also the chance to get involved in debates about current issues in conservation (if you can get a word in edgeways)...

...and to make a few new friends.

Unfortunately we missed the moment where Nick Baker photo-bombed the picture...