Saturday, 14 April 2018

A trip to the Cairngorms: Day 1 Rothiemurchus

This is our second trip to the Cairngorms, we enjoyed it so much last year, we decided to come back in search of more wildlife, fresh air and great walks.

The most amazing thing about walking in this general area is the sheer abundance of lichen dripping from almost every tree – spiky, filamentous, hairy; the diversity and volume of this green fuzz is phenomenal. That, and being surrounded by almost constant bird song shows what an incredible place this is. Great, blue and coal tits, the latter a less shy and retiring and seemingly much more abundant bird than in Norfolk. Chaffinches pairing up, fighting and chasing each other; white flashes of wings and tails as they zip between trees in hot pursuit of each other. Unseen goldcrests trilled from somewhere and great spotted woodpeckers drummed, their percussions resounding from another unknown location, successfully remaining unseen.

Following one of the footpaths to Loch Eilein, we took a sidepath to Lochan Mor. This little loch was writhing with common toads by the bridge on which we stood, some just coming to the surface to sunbathe. Tearing our eyes away from the toads, drawn by a number of loud little grebes, and up to the stunning view (there were a lot of those!), it was evident there were other residents to this loch. Piebald ducks with a shocking yellow iris, a few male goldeneyes skimmed the surface and dived. A sleepy pair of goosander drifted with the slight current, occasional awoken by the grebes.

Back tracking to the main path, we had to watch our feet. Common frogs, toads and even a newt were sitting on the path. A few of which we tried to move to prevent their early demise from unwary walkers and cyclists.

On reaching Loch Eilein and making a quick visit to the shop for supplies, I almost missed our first red squirrel of our visit. Luckily, my husband was quick on the uptake with my camera for evidence. I just caught the flash of auburn moving through the silver birch and pines, with a flash of blonde gracing the end of tip of its luxurious tail. Despite the number of visitors and dogs, to which it seemed oblivious, it returned and foraged lower to the ground. A good omen for the next few days of wildlife watching. 

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