Saturday, June 13, 2015

Back from me hols...(Edit)

[Hello all. If you have already read this edition prior to Sunday 14th June, please accept my apologies. This was a 'lazy' post, and I'm going to change it.]

We have just returned from a week away up to our regular haunt in Scotland, the Ardnamurchan. The house we have stayed on on four occasions now, again came up with the goods. We had a great week, filled with clear blue skies and sunshine, all be it, a bit cool, but as long as the rain stays away, its a bonus!

There are too many highlights to write about this week, so I'll let the photo's do the talking...

We arrived at Acharacle last Saturday afternoon in strong winds and heavy rain. The landscape looked about as uninviting as it possibly could, but the weather forecast for the next five days seemed to be improving slightly so we weren't too despondent.

Our cottage was just as we left it on our last visit in September 2013 and long may it stay so. It has an old fashioned quiet charm inside that instantly makes you feel at home in a peaceful, remote landscape.

Allt Beithe, Arivegaig, Acharacle. The view from the moss...

Allt Beithe.
We bought some bird seed and nuts a local shop ( I must bring my own mix next time as the stuff available locally was mostly corn rubbish) and stocked up the feeders at two bird tables, front and side. They were soon frequented by familiar garden residents, but family parties of Siskins and some wild Rock Doves and Hooded Crows indicated that we were further away from Northumberland than usual. A bit of small bird activity under the shade of some beech trees in the garden soon revealed the presence of a Chiffchaff nest with young.

One morning I got up and looked from the kitchen window to find a Red Deer stag standing on the lawn! I have no idea how he got in or how he left the scene as the land is well fenced and hedged off from the moss.

Siskin. Families regularly at the feeders.

Not a ring or scruffy black one amongst them. Rock Doves.

Chiffchaff breeding in the garden.
Each time we visit, we hope to catch up with the elusive Pine Martens that live nearby. In 2007 we had some nice views of two, in 2010 we had one glimpse and in 2013 no sight at all. We were not disappointed in 2015's showing.

From Saturday to Tuesday the jam and bread was removed from the bird tables and ground during the brief hours of darkness leaving us a tad frustrated. So, on Weds morning I got up at 5.30am to replenish the missing food, after only putting out a small amount on the evening previously to attract attention.

I sat glued to the kitchen window, camera in hand until by 9am a robin was developing a taste for raspberry jam. No sign of the mystery mustelid. It was time to let Bunty out into the garden for her morning ablutions. As she left the side door I heard and saw a scrabble of gravel on the drive and a tirade of yapping from the trusty dug. I jumped around the corned to see the Pine Marten legging it across the lawn, tail spiralling like a helicopter with Bunty in pursuit! A sharp yell from her master put paid to the chase and all I was left with was the rattling of rhododendron bushes as the poor creature escaped. It had been below the kitchen window all along...

Surely that was the end of our chances this week, no sensible marten would venture back in daylight after that happened....

I then thought I would try my luck by constructing a temporary marten table near the side bushes where he might sneak out for a sweetie snack in the knowledge that cover was a leap away. I replaced the bait at 10am and we went out for the day.

On return at 5pm the bread was still untouched, even the robin didn't fancy it. I just left it be thinking our mate would take it over night if at all.

By 8.30pm I wandered back into the kitchen for a top up and to do the dishes when I took a casual glance out the side window. No bread! Little sod had been in  while we were eating and taking the loot. Right, get some more out straight away.

I left it unchecked until about 9.15pm. When I looked I was over the moon to see a small pointed face peering out from the side of the bushes, and called Jane and Lillian ( my sister in law was staying with us for one evening) for a look...

This pattern kind of continued on Thursday and Friday too with the Pine Marten showing best on Friday at 8pm. What a star, even though he was only on show for a few minutes at a time, it was a great pleasure to share a meal with him. Tremendous, Pine Martens are just the dogs danglies....




Pine Marten. Same individual. Top two - 300mm f4 1/400th at ISO 3200, Bottom two - 300mm f7.1 at ISO 800 . 

Around the house is Kentra Moss and Kentra Bay (below). Its a great area for wildlife with Otter, Red Deer, Raven, Greenshank etc all seen.

Just down the lane, Kentra Bay.

Carnivores in the damp ditches. Butterwort...

and Sundew.

This Otter ran towards me and up a culvert under the track.
To be Continued...

6 comments:

amanda peters said...

What a wonderful place for a holiday, I would love it there. And the photos of the Pine Martin are rather good, how exciting to see one... loving all the things you photographed rather jealous..
Amanda xx

Steve Gale said...

Who needs Springwatch when we've got Sexton! Very envious Stewart...

Jim Swalwell said...

Hi Stew, great photographs of the Pine Martin. Have to echo Amanda and say I'm jealous! It's a fantastic part of the world. Jim (Lost Geordie)

Stewart said...

Thanks for the kind comments all, but you could visit there too, just book up! If you need details just give me a shout...

Ragged Robin said...

Great place for a holiday (think I may have said this before!!). Wonderful photos and wildlife sightings Stewart - not at all jealous about the pine martin and otter :)

Stringer said...

Superb pine marten pics !!