Cairngorms 25/26 April

I left Blackwater around 7.30 pm Friday evening after dinner with family, chilli and jacket spud, perfect, I left with a full belly. Thanks Mum! x

I was going to drive maybe halfway on Friday evening and get a few hours sleep, but for some reason I just carried on going, I pretty much drove the 550 odd miles non stop, it took around 10 hours, I say I drove non stop, I stopped twice for a coffee and the loo and that was it.

I arrived around 6.30am Saturday morning and landed in Aviemore, and as luck would have it, a petrol station with a Costa machine was found,,, bingo :-) From Aviemore, the cottage I was staying in was 12miles or so, I couldn’t gain access until 3pm so went for a drive there to see it. Small and old, unique looking from the outside, I had no idea what to expect on the inside, as long as it was dry, warm, clean and the internet worked that would do nicely.

From the brief drive by of the cottage, I had some time to kill, 7 hours to be precise, I saw a sign to Loch Garten so headed there and found a layby next to the water, I went for a walk with my camera for an hour or so but failed anything decent in terms of photos, a few glimpses of Red Squirrels, Crested Tits, lots of Blue Tits and Chaffinch and good numbers of Goldeneye. By this time, I was very tired, I walked back to my van and went to sleep.

Two hours later, still tired, I was awake with a stiff neck, another quick walk about but nothing of interest was seen. I took a drive and found myself at an access point to another part of the Abernethy Forest. As luck would have it, a few days earlier I downloaded the OS map app for my phone in the hope that if I went for a walk and logged it, I would be able to find my van should I get lost, it worked perfectly! I walked some 5 miles in 2 hours in the search of a photo, and would you believe it, I found nothing! I heard a Buzzard and that was about it. I couldn’t believe it, no Red Squirrels, no Crested Tits, no Crossbills, nothing. Back to my wheels it was and off to the Cottage I went.

The cottage is perfect for my needs, small, clean, cosy and plenty big enough for a couple. Its all pretty small, a living room, a kitchen and a bedroom with a bathroom and toilet. Ideal! Don’t think I could have chosen better oh and the internet works!! I didn't do much last night (Saturday) I just unpacked a few things, had a beer and went to bed, I was asleep within seconds.

Today (Sunday) I was up early and the sun was out, not that it lasted for long!!,,,, a quick brew and a slice of toast and it was a quick walk across the road to the River Dulnain, I want a Dipper. These little birds fascinate me, I have only ever seen them in books, on tv and you tube clips. I was prepared to spent the whole day here looking and waiting. After a few steps along the rivers path, I heard the unmistakable calls of Common Sandpiper, there are a pair that I think could be a breeding pair nesting nearby, but I wasn't here for them, as nice as they are, I have photographed them at home. The rivers path just across from the cottage is pretty short, maybe 10minutes from one end to the other, I searched and searched, nothing, but at the far end of the public path was a tiny track, I followed this for 100meters to a dead end and bingo! A Dipper on the rocks feeding, and to make things even better, it was a bird collecting food and taking it back to the nest, so this bird will be here all week giving me plenty of chances to revisit. I was overjoyed to see this bird feeding, I also found the nest! I spent about an hour watching and photographing it, collecting food and returning to the nest. If I went back home with no other pictures, fine, the Dipper was one of the birds I just HAD to see and photo.

Snow. I did plan a visit to Loch Ruthven today, I visited Inverness beforehand just to see what was there, it was a short visit, with coffee and food. Anyhow, on my way there it was very grey. Rain and sleet, and on my way back down the A9, Snow, the traffic was slow with a few crashed cars, I did try and get to the Loch but I got stuck down a country lane, I should of bought a shovel. I got stuck, some other matey got stuck. We helped eachother get 'unstuck' and we was on our way, I wanted off that small road and back onto the A9 back to the cottage. The next 10miles or so was snow causing chaos on sections of the road, a total whiteout local radio described it as,,,it was vey slow,slippy and slushy. Closer to the cottage it was still snowing but the roads were clear. Its still snowing on and off now but it has melted somewhat, I dont think the snow will affect me in the morning, but if it does I dont care, I have the Dippers that involve no driving :-)


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