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Natural Connections

Modern life in Scotland is increasingly busy. The connections our ancestors had with nature and the land are being lost. As leisure time shrinks, or is filled with hi-tech experiences, opportunities to experience nature become fewer. And yet it is possible to connect with nature on a day to day basis. All around us, the great web of life continues to hold its shape, and nature continues its eternal cycles. Keep looking, listening, smelling, touching - and keep experiencing natural connections.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spent the day in Strathspey, walking from Kingussie to Aviemore via Feshiebridge.
The following account added 5th May 2013:
Enjoyed a really good day walking in Strathspey. Left the train at Kingussie and headed south along the Dell Road. The Rookery there was quite active with at least ten birds present. Plenty of birds were singing with Chaffinch and Willow Warbler particularly evident. Nearing Insh Marshes, pairs of Greylag Geese were present at various spots. A Curlew was bubbling in the distance and a pair of Lapwings were displaying over the marsh where at least a dozen Black-headed Gull pairs had begun nesting. A distant Buzzard was the first of several today.
Decided to walk along the road to Tromie Bridge rather than going through the reserve. Siskins, Chaffinches and Greenfinches were present in roadside cottage gardens. Tromie Bridge again failed to produce Dipper or Grey Wagtail but a Redstart singing from a conifer in Drumguish (with another answering nearby) was some compensation. Heading south from Drumguish across the heather moor (on the Blair Atholl path), the only bird present was Meadow Pipit. However bird sightings increased on entering the conifer plantation with singing Mistle Thrush and calling Great-spotted Woodpecker and Jay adding to the sounds of several smaller birds. 
Descending down to the Allt Fhearnadail, the birds changed again with Meadow Pipits dominating. A small wood at Corarnstilbeg held Siskin and Great-spotted Woodpecker while a pair of Graylag Geese seemed to be on territory and a possible Red Kite showed momentarily. 
The walk along to Balintean took place against the backdrop of the Glenfeshie hills, still mostly covered by snow. Birds along this stretch were mostly unremarkable with Coal Tit and Willow Warbler the commonest. However the change in landscape at Balintean (to pasture and broadleaved woodland) coincided with the appearance of Pied Wagtail, Song Thrush, Tree Pipit, Redstart and Great-spotted Woodpecker. 
A packed lunch at Feshiebridge was followed by a brisk walk through Inshriach forest.  At least five Crested Tits were present between Drakes Bothy (below) and Loch Gamhna. The Loch was deserted apart from a single Mallard. Loch an Eilein had a Common Sandpiper and another Mallard while a singing Blackbird and Song Thrush were at Forest Cottage. Further along, another Great-spotted Woodpecker was calling from the base of Ord Ban.
Cutting through the forest at Lochan More produced a pair of Mute Swans, four Sand Martins and a Swallow. A pair of Goosanders and a singing Collared Dove were at the Speyside Highland Leisure Park while almost the last bird of the day was a (presumed migrant) Pied Flycatcher heard singing briefly from woodland next to Dalfaber Road just beyond the Old Mill Hotel. Two other black-and-white birds finished the day with an Oystercatcher circling over the Spey and a Pied Wagtail flitting along Aviemore main street.
All in all a very full and quite tiring day, with 20 miles walked and 45 species seen (or heard). Weather was pretty good, but a stiff westerly wind blew almost continually. Bird of the day was probably Willow Warbler, with 23 singing birds across eleven sites.

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