Sunday, June 10, 2007

Aviemore: Lochs

Travelling home from watching the black grouse at Glenlivet, I decided to make the most of a beautiful morning. I could spare half an hour looking for one of my truly favourite birds and still be home by the time everyone else was having breakfast.
30+ years ago holidays in Aviemore were the norm for my family, and I spent many warm summer evenings fishing at a small loch just outside Aviemore. In those days it had a good head of wild brown trout, and for me little could match the pleasure of twitching a floating sedge imitation across the surface whilst awaiting a crashing rise. Apart from the scenery and the fishing one of the other great pleasures were the Slavonian Grebes, which would often swim a few feet away when you were wading. Readers of the blog (if there are any) will know that little grebes are a favourite, but I'm afraid the Slav's leave them standing for sheer beauty. The Highlands represent the UK stronghold for these birds, with the RSPB reserve at Loch Ruthven (south west of Inverness) being the most well known and well populated site. However there are pairs dotted around elsewhere, and even 30 years later 'my' loch continues to have one or two breeding pairs.
Sure enough they were there, and even better they proved to be reasonably tolerant of my presence, eventually swimming by pretty close, considering that I was sitting in full view.

Even these low resolution pictures show that fabulous head, the sparkling red eyes and the warm, warm colours. Clicking on the picture will take you to a slightly bigger view, but if you want to see some more detailed shots go to Dave Slater's website via the link on this page.
The loch also held a number of greylag geese this year, with about half of the 'creche' being visible in this shot.

The big lochs in the area hold a certain charm, but many are very deep right into the margins and peat coloured, meaning that you maybe don't see the range of wildlife you might expect. Even the ospreys living next to the lochs may not fish them, as they are too hard to spot fish in. (Cue very distant shot of osprey and nest!)

There are a few lovely spots though, and the Lily Loch is one of our 'every year' walks. The walk out takes you through some mixed woodland, and the loch itself is bounded by forest. On a warm evening just sit and watch the deer come down to drink. We were still a bit early for the lily flowers, but the leaves were further on than in recent years, and provided a perfect backdrop for the small family of goldeneye.

Opposite the main loch there are a couple of woodland lochans, one of which held a little grebe nest tucked against a branch sticking out of the middle of the water.

The one other spot we usually visit is the little lochan on the outskirts of Boat of Garten - usually to eat haggis and chips whilst watching the antics of the birds in the heronry. Great place for a meal!

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