This year marked the occasion of the start of my 51st orbit around the sun, and to celebrate the event myself and my friend, who also reached the same milestone, took a trip in June to the Cairngorms in Scotland. It was a terrific excursion, the sun shone for most of the trip, and we spent the whole time out in the wilds. Before we went we convened in the pub several times to ‘plan‘ our campaign and one of our plans was to compile a short priority list of species we’d like to see. My list consisted of osprey, crested tit, crossbill and pine marten. And my friends list also included pine marten along with various dragonflies including white faced darter and northern damselfly – neither of which can be found in Cambridgeshire.
As we were intent on packing in as much Celtic wildlife watching as we could in three days it was a busy trip. So our first stop after arriving at Inverness and picking up a hire car was at Loch Ruthven. Truth be told, there wasn’t a huge amount going on here, but it was a lovely spot to burn an hour relaxing after the hassle of travel, flights etc.
Little grebe, or dabchick, (Tachybaptus ruficollis, Dansk: lille lappedykker)
Like other grebes, this one is a diver, reaching a depth of a metre to feed on molluscs, small fish and insects. Shakespeare referred to it as the ‘dive-dapper’ and according tho the British trust for ornithology it is the only bird to have the first three letters of the alphabet consecutively… and I bet you’re glad you know that!
The little grebe is a resident and migrant breeder in the UK as well as being a winter visitor and covers a large part of the globe across Eurasia as far east as New Guinea and sub-Saharan Africa.
A pair of teal (Anas crecca, Dansk: krikand)
Teal, like most ducks, are striking, handsome birds and their markings make them easily identifiable. They are passage and winter visitors here as well as being resident breeders. They frequent shallow water, and like the little grebe their conservation status in the UK is amber, with 2100 breeding pairs here.
So even though Loch Ruthven wasn’t bristling with rare and previously unseen wildlife (for myself, at least) it was a very pleasant start to our exploration of that corner of the UK. We speculated at the time that next time we visit we may need a passport and visa, but I’m pleased that our neighbours didn’t vote to secede from the UK in the September referendum!
What a wonderful way to celebrate a milestone!
I love the textures in the first image; really lovely and interesting image.
Hello Meanderer, it was a very memorable event.
I’m pleased you like that picture, I think the dabchick is almost incidental and gives just a small focal point amongst the texture of the greenery, which is why I liked it.
We rabbits are certainly enjoying our 51st orbit around the sun. We have little native grebes here. Not sure what their species is but we often see them in the river just over the road from our front gate popping into the water and then some time later popping back out seemingly miles away from their entry point. For such small birds they do a lot of underwater mileage! I just went hunting and through good old Wikipedia found out that our little grebes are called “Hoary-headed grebes” (Poliocephalus poliocephalus). They are pretty nondescript but very tenacious. We antipodeans were waving the flag for Scotland to secede to be honest, but at the end of the day I guess it was easier to stay put and not disturb the status quo. Good for England, but not so good for the Scots. Maybe next time… 😉
‘Rabbit‘? Not been called that before! It looks like your little grebe is a different species to our northern hemisphere one.
I’m glad Scotland didn’t secede, I think it’s better for them and for us. But it’s really shaken tings up here politically, which could be a very good thing. There was far too much emotion and not enough reason that went into the referendum campaigns from both sides, but I’m pleased that ultimately (for once) common sense prevailed. Not a frequent phenomenon in the political world.
1963? If you are 51 you are the same age as me and I am a rabbit (Chinese horoscope). If my parents had have had a bit of decorum and waited another year I would be one of those favoured dragons but whatchagonnadoeh? As a far flung antipodean we know about how easy it is to get forgotten. I think Scotland was feeling forgotten and left out and put in the “too hard” basket and hopefully that shake up will keep them front and centre in the thought process from now on.
1964, so it looks like I’m a dragon.
And you’re right Scotland has historically been marginalised by administrations at Westminster, but that should change now with our northern brethren having considerably more control over their own affairs. And it’s opened up a huge debate in the UK about devolving political control to regions of England too. Interesting times!
Another lovely place I would like to visit some day. So many places…so little time.
Hello Sue, I know exactly what you mean! What struck me about here was the incredible greenness and the quietude. It’s a lovely part of the world if ever you get the chance to explore it.