Monday 16 July 2012

Dragon hunting, Part 3

The dry weather continued the next morning, but we didn't start wildlife watching as early as hoped.

Well, in a way, I was wildlife watching. That is to say, there was a delay of a few ticks before we started in earnest. And I don't mean 'a few seconds', I mean actual ticks. Probably sheep ticks, Ixodes ricinus, which are also spread by deer. Yours truly had managed to collect a few exo-parasites the previous day, when trogging through the undergrowth looking for dragons.

If only I could find Azure Hawkers so easily!

Whilst Lyme Disease isn't hugely prevalent in the Gairloch area, there's no point in taking any chances, so I considered it worthwhile checking with the local medical practice. My thanks to Nurse Joan at Aultbea Surgery for her wise words and her tremendous tweezers.

Towards noon, we returned to Slattadale, but the visit proved rather unproductive from an odonatological perspective. We did spot a few Common Darters and some Golden Rings, but the dragons were trumped by the many other invertebrates present. Of which a few examples are below:

Caterpillar of the Emperor Moth, Saturnia pavonia
Green Tiger Beetles, Cicindela campestris, busy making more beetles
In the afternoon, we drove along the peninsula north of Gairloch to Cove, to an area that was under-recorded for damsels and dragons. Under a heavy sky, we searched for suitable habitat, but found little to inspire either us or the odes. Perhaps the area's not under-recorded, it's simply not on dragon radar. Our trip wasn't wasted though, as the Admiral pointed out a group of Lesser Butterfly Orchid, Platanthera bifolia, growing by the roadside. We just had time to take a photograph or two before the heavens opened.

Platanthera bifolia
Meanwhile, Second Born was busy exploring the nearby Inverewe Gardens, so whilst the rain it raineth, we drove around Loch Ewe to meet up with her. She had managed to avoid the weather and we wandered around the carefully tended borders and landscaped woodland, looking for wildlife interest rather than horticultural inspiration. Second Born found the only dragonfly we saw, a Common Darter, just as the Admiral was explaining how he'd never seen anything odontaological in the gardens. Priceless!

We had walked to the far end of the site and were watching a lively heronry when the rain returned. This time we weren't so fortunate and were completely drenched by the time we made it back to our cars for the damp drive to Gairloch.

Following a change of clothing and after the weather had smartened up, we sauntered along the bay to The Shieling restaurant for our evening meal.

View across Gairloch Bay - cloudy
Midway through our first course, another group were shown to the table beside us. This consisted of a certain TV wildlife presenter and his film/production crew. Let's preserve his anonymity, as the loud conversation revealed that he didn't know his Cormorants from his Black-throated Divers. The Admiral was decidedly unimpressed.

That notwithstanding, this team settled into regaling each other, and anyone in earshot, with wildlife-filming horror stories, comparing diseases and parasites contracted in all corners of the globe. It put my ticks into perspective, I can tell you. Though it did make me think, well, if it was so bad, why didn't they stay in the UK and brush up on bird ID.

To be honest, it wasn't the lurid detail of their anecdotes that bothered me. I would've happily eaten tagliatelle whilst the chat was of tapeworms. What irked most was the revelation of the sheer amount of travel undertaken in the name of light entertainment for the masses. OK, all the film crews in all the world will only make up a small fraction of global air travel. But for folks who profess to love nature and wish to preserve it for future generations, their life style appeared to be more concerned with what looked good on a CV rather than protecting any sea 'vie'. Sorry, rant over.

As we reached the dessert course, it became apparent that this bunch were spending the next day at sea, whale-watching. The Admiral's face was a picture when he realised this, as so were we. Same boat? Oh, please, no!

We gently ambled back to our lodgings, each in our own thoughts, contemplating what the next day might have in store for us. With the arrival of dusk, the view had returned, so we crossed our fingers and hoped for fine weather.

View across Gairloch Bay - dusk


holdingmoments said...

A nurse with 'tremendous tweezers'; now that sounds interesting.
And as for the 'TV wildlife presenter and his film/production crew', name and shame.

Gairloch Bay looks a picture.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Keith, you obviously read the updated post, the original version stated " a nifty wrist action", which in hindsight gave quite the wrong impression, so was changed!

I may name and shame in due course :o)

Do you get the impression that we sat staring at the view for hours on end? It was purely accidental, honest.