Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Aviemore: The Black Isle

If you are in the Inverness area, one must is a trip to Chanonry Point at Fortrose on the Black Isle. This is the UK's premier site for dolphin watching from the shore. It is a site where a spit of land juts out into the Moray Firth. The narrows have really deep water close inshore, and on a good day you can find yourself within feet of an airborne bottlenose dolphin. In fairness more often the views are of heads and dorsal fins arcing through the water, but even so if you haven't been it is worth a trip. You may need to be patient, but that's hardly new in wildlife watching. I've only ever failed to see a dolphin, or at least a porpoise, on one occasion, although they've not always been close in. A rising tide is said to be best, with the run of salmon and sea trout the magnet that draws them in.

While you're waiting you could always pick up some haggis and chips from the chippy in Fortrose and enjoy a seaside meal accompanied by herring gulls,


and even a swallow gathering mud for a nest.

While you're in the area, a five minute drive up the road takes you to the Fairy Glen RSPB reserve at Rosemarkie. A lovely spot for a walk through broad leaved woodland alongside a stream. As well as this juvenile chaffinch .........

we saw grey wagtails and spotted flycatchers, but I'm sure there's more there if you spend the time.
At the top of the walk is a series of waterfalls, and if you look closely at the top one there is a tell-tale streak of white on the bank.

Wait a minute and the reason becomes clear as the dippers return to feed the growing brood in the hole under overhanging vegetation.

The light is never brilliant due to tree cover, but as it was a sunny day even my panasonic managed a couple of half decent snaps this time. One interesting thing I did notice was that each time the adult emerged with a faecal sac it would exit the nest and fly straight down into the pool below.

PS if there seems to be a thread running through this blog regarding haggis and chips, I only ever eat them at Boat of Garten heronry or Chanonry Point, where I regard this as a key part of the Scottish wildlife experience. Just as well I can't get them at home!

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