Friday 9 June 2017

A trip south, part 2

The following morning, whilst preparing breakfast, Our Lass noticed a small bird perched on the telephone wire outside of the kitchen window.

Yay! Spotted Flycatcher.

With a sunny and showery forecast for the afternoon, we spent the morning at Cluny House Garden, in what has become something of an annual pilgrimage for Our Lass. The garden is tucked away on a hillside above the River Tay. It has winding, occasionally steep, paths and a lovely mix of wild and cultivated flowers and trees. Because of a lack of facilities that a larger, more commercial, garden would probably have, Cluny House always seems quiet and undisturbed, which is great for wildlife watching, if not my bladder.

Here's a couple of examples of wild and cultivated:

Kidney Vetch (apparently the local hare only eats the yellow variety!)

Himalayan Poppy
 And here's a couple of examples of cute:

It was difficult to be sure, as Red Squirrels are very mobile, but I think we saw five individuals during our visit.

Our next destination was an industrial estate in Aberfeldy. Don't laugh, but we made a special trip to the local recycling centre. No, some exotic species of bird hadn't been seen there, we were actually recycling three and half years' worth of aluminium foil, as we are unable to do this back home in Orkney. Yep, all those flan cases, an inordinate number of mince pie cases, the packaging from the occasional ready meal and the foil from the odd meat pie. Even stacked neatly, it had taken up a sizeable amount of room in the boot of the car. With the warm glow of a job well done, we repaired to a tea shop for lunch.

During the afternoon and in between showers, we made use of the hot tub at the cottage. Slowly marinating in a big bath outdoors isn't really my cup of tea, so I was soon bored enough to start a list of birds seen from the tub. In no time at all it had amassed a healthy flock of Sparrowhawk, Jay, Spotted Flycatcher, Buzzard, Willow Warbler, Raven and Swift, plus all the usual garden suspects. Maybe I could get used to this lifestyle?

In the evening, we again took a walk up the track behind the cottage, this time wandering a bit further afield. For the most part, the track follows the edge of a gorge in which the Keltney Burn flows, so the gentle sounds of running water were pleasingly mixed with birdsong and the heady scent of woodland plants. On the return journey, I noticed a dark shape in the distance, coming up the track towards us. I just had enough time to alert Our Lass to it, raise my bins to my eyes and gasp in astonishment as a Pine Marten leapt from the track into the undergrowth. Wow! Our first ever one and a perfect end to the day.

In part 3, we do something rather momentous.

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