Monday, 13 February 2017

Our Annual trip to the Highlands (Braemar) Days 1 and 2

Most years we head up to the Highlands for a week in late January or early February, in fact the only year we have missed since 2009 is 2015 when we went to the Orkneys instead.

So what did this years visit bring, well we do have an agenda depending on if the mountain roads are open, which thankfully this year they were, although as we arrived at Glenshee on the Saturday, we were beginning to wonder.
This was at the top of Glenshee, just 20 minutes drive from the cottage that we had rented, you can see from the car in the background that I was glad that we were in a Land Rover!

We carried on down to our cottage just outside Braemar on the River Dee,
this was the view from our bedroom window. So back to the agenda, we love going for a walk at Glen Muick just outside Ballater, this is part of the Balmoral Estate but open to the public, it's a great walk and we chose the Sunday as the weather looked good, in the past we have done this walk in some atrocious weather and we weren't up for that again!

As you can see it was glorious, but freezing, thank heavens for our duck down coats that we bought for Norway last year.

We never see that much wildlife on this walk, but there is always something of interest, like these Black Grouse sitting in a tree!
and of course Red Deer watching us watching them.

We do usually see Dippers on the river that runs through the Glen to the Loch, but not this time.
The long a winding (snow covered) road, to quote a band from the 60's and 70's.
The feeders at the visitor centre normally provide some birding action, but sadly they were all empty, perhaps the Queen can't afford the peanuts anymore!

Day 2 and off across The Lecht to Loch Garten and Aviemore.
As we were leaving the house though, I glanced to right and spotted a dipper.

We stopped at the Lecht to use the facilities, have a coffee of course and look for Snow Buntings, they never let us down, but this morning they did. Not a sign, but some Red Grouse showed quite nicely in the snow on one of the slopes,
We arrived at Loch Garten in lovely sunshine although it was very very cold, we first looked around the car park area as this can be good, but I think there were too many people about, so we carried on to the (closed) visitor centre, for our Crested Tit fix! It took a while and a cup of coffee, but eventually a couple showed up,

As always there are plenty of Blue, Great and Coal Tits about,
as well as Chaffinch,
but that was it, the other target, Red Squirrel didn't show up this time.
After Garten we drove to the Aviemore Ski Centre,, intending to go for a walk looking for Ptarmigan, but when we got there the wind was so fierce we decided to cancel that idea, so we had lunch in the car, which was actually a little scary as the car was rocking from side to side as we sat there!
You can probably make out the snow being whipped up by the wind. So after refreshment I drove us back down the mountain, where we stopped briefly to look at the ice on the nearby Loch Morlich,
apart from the ice, there were some distant Goldeneye that were far to far a meaningful photo and of course some Mallard. As it is a fair drive back to Braemar and the weather was starting to look a little wintery again, we headed back via Aviemore town for Waxwings, but they weren't around either. At least the Crested Tits didn't fail us!

We made it as far as the Lecht and it was still daylight, so again we made use of the facilities before they closed and had a cuppa. To our delight two Snow Bunting landed by the car, so in the fading light I managed a murky photo,

It was dark by the time we reached Braemar, so nothing else to report!

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