If I was being pedantic [...waits for myriad exclamations of "Surely not?!"], I would have to say that this post is actually about the trip back north. As it is the concluding part of the trip, I guess we can let that pass. For the journey back, the weather wasn't great, but at least it was a driving day, so no harm done.
With plenty of time in hand to catch the early evening ferry across to Orkney, we pootled up through the Highlands, stopping off at Ralia for refreshments, Inverness for comestibles, Foulis for lunch, Helmsdale for the hell of it and Wick for gardening supplies and fuel.
Just north of Inverness, near the Black Isle, we were fortunate to spot a Red Kite and a Buzzard. Sadly, this isn't as much of a forgone conclusion as it used to be, due to raptor persecution in the area.
Somewhere on the A9 in Caithness, we rounded a bend to see a Kestrel up ahead, hovering high over the road verge. I eased off to see what would happen. The Kestrel dropped lower. I slowed down a bit more. The Kestrel dropped lower. With the distance between us decreasing, I slowed down some more, and the Kestrel dived into the undergrowth. By sheer luck, I had just about timed things to perfection, as the little falcon powered back into the air with a small rodent in its talons, right across the bonnet of the car. What a view! I suspect that the mouse or vole was less enamoured with the situation.
Once on the ferry, we took up a window seat for the crossing, just in case there was a sniff of a chance of Orca (yes, they'd been seen several hours beforehand, yada, yada, yada). Predictably, they were not around now, but our seawatch was rewarded with a solitary Manx Shearwater, scything its way across water.
It had been a fantastic long weekend, though I never did finish the hot tub list.