Saturday, January 03, 2009

Winter Wonderland...

We have been away for a few days to spend Hogmanay in the Highlands. The whole time we were away the mercury didn't rise above -1.5 degrees, with most days being between -4 and -6.5...



This was our cabin (click here) in the woods at Insh, near Kingussie, Speyside. It was very nice, compact and cosy, ideal for a few days solitude and relaxation. First thing we did was put some food out for the birds and some jam and bread to see if there was any Pine Martens. We didn't see any Martens, but there were 2 Red Squirrels early one morning before the light was good enough for photography and a weasel this morning. The table swarmed with Coal Tits and more unusually...



...this Treecreeper was on the peanuts then feeding on the frost hardened ground. It didn't look too well, but seemed to perk up next day.





The Lochs were all frozen solid, even moving water struggled to remain ice free, but the white tracery of birch twigs looked amazing...




A chap was roasting Chestnuts over these braziers at Rothiemurchus so we gave them a try and the warm mulled cider of course.

Next I had taken a Timed Tetrad for the BTO Atlas at Dalwhinnie, 1500 feet above sea level. Of course there were no birds other than Red Grouse and this Hoodie...




After a couple of days of dull, freezing weather, the sun came out, and what a difference it made! The Cairngorm air was crystal clear and bitterly cold..




This is Loch Morlich at the foot of Cairngorm in the Rothiemurchus forest. A massive area of water frozen into a block all except the outflowing river...



The ground was so cold it made walking uncomfortable for the terrier. She would be out for half an hour then cry to be picked up or put back in the car. All together now...



The railway up Cairngorm is quite controversial to some conservationists but it didn't make the mountain any less beautiful today...



From the car park the view over the forest and frozen loch was wonderful. In the distance you can see the mist lying in the Spey valley, it looks like another loch...




People were all over the frozen Loch, sledging, walking and skating...




When we left the cabin this morning I left a little picture of our favourite bird table visitor in the visitors book ...




A mile along the road from the cabin this view of Ruthven Barracks overlooking Insh Marshes prompted another photo stop...





Oh and I almost forgot, this Crested Tit was with the Coal Tits every day at our feeders, a cracking little bird...

Please click on the pictures for bigger images, particularly the scenery, it was really fantastic.

I'll update the Quicksilver Christmas challenge tomorrow....

7 comments:

Border Reiver said...

Cracking post Stewart and Happy New Year again - looks a proper winter wonderland up there and you have one of my "lifers" on the blog, a Crested Tit has eluded me for 40+ years....and of course the Highland hoodie...what with you and Shirl, a visit to the bonnie Scots-land is a must this year. Looking forward to your count. BR

Rare Visitor said...

WIsh I'd known you were away I'd have twitched your bird table ;)

Been to Teeside yet?

Tricia said...

What a wonderful post Stewart and the scenery - breathtaking. Some cracking pictures too.

And a Crested Tit - ooooooh.

You must have had a great time.

Alan said...

Aye, we're headed up there in May.

Need the name of that lodge :)

Stewart said...

Thanks all, just click on the word 'cabin' in my post for a link to the website....

No twitching yet.

Warren Baker said...

Blimey, I thought it was cold here!!
An excellent read Stewart, great pics, and a talented cresty drawing as well.

Ian said...

U'll ave to get a calendar done m8!