Sunday 8 July 2018

Sheep and dragons

We decided to spend the Thursday of our week's holiday visiting local sites near our rented cottage. So, after a gentle start to the day, we drove across the Spey valley to a plant nursery which specialised in heather. There may have been tea and cake.

After buying a basket of heather plants, both for our own garden and that of some good friends, we set off to discover a geological site which had been intriguingly sign-posted from the A95. Indeed, it's not every day that you're careening along a busy Scottish main road and see a road sign which, bizarrely, appears to be in French. Sadly, owing to the afore-mentioned busyness, I refrained from reversing up the road to photograph the sign.

Several minutes later and eighteen thousand years before, we found ourselves not in France, but at a pocket park in the village of Dulnian Bridge, staring at an information panel in the shape of a rôche moutonnée. Oh come on, no need to be sheepish, surely you've all done it?!

Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place...

Following that excitement, we needed some refreshment, so meandered back across the river valley to Nethy Bridge, and our umpteenth visit to our favourite cafe of the holiday, for lunch. I must admit that it was a punishing and exhausting schedule, which is probably why we then returned to the cottage for a bit of a siesta.

By early evening, we had found previously-hidden reserves of energy, so went for a wander along the shore of Loch Garten, before heading to the White-faced Darter site to see what dragonflies and damselflies do for entertainment in these parts.

Sitting on the short boardwalk, we spent a very pleasant hour or so, watching the shadows lengthen and the sun gradually recede from the surface of the bog pool. White-faced darters were still very active, even at 8.30pm, with several pairs mating and one female briefly egg-laying.

At one point, a female Common Hawker also appeared, and began ovipositing into submerged vegetation.

As the sun sank in the sky, there were fewer and fewer places for the dragonflies to bask in the warming rays. This meant that any territorial males had to overcome their hostility to one another and share the precious resource.

We left them to it, and wended our weary way home.

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