Tuesday 3 July 2018

In which we venture perceptibly nearer to the Equator

Blimey! It's July! After a week's holiday at the end of June, we've just about caught up with Orkney life again. Our Lass and I spent an enjoyable week in a rented cottage in the Spey valley on the edge of the Cairngorm National Park. Our intention was to cram in as much walking as possible, preferably some at height, but the hot weather meant a change to those plans. It was up in the 30s at one point, so we kept in the shade of the forests and took our chances with the midges and clegs.

Driving down through Caithness and Sutherland, the number of vehicles on the road gradually increased, so that by the time we were nearing Inverness I was in full-on 'I don't want to spend my holiday sat in traffic' mode. This resulted in an unplanned detour through the Black Isle and a pleasant few hours in Fortrose, enjoying a cafe lunch and a walk around the cathedral ruins. The monks were long gone, but the White Clover in the cathedral grounds was playing host to an order of small black bees.

Red-tailed Bumblebee
By the time we arrived at the cottage near Boat of Garten, it was late afternoon, so after unpacking, we visited the village of Nethy Bridge and enjoyed a short, cool walk in Dell Woods. By the River Nethy, we spotted a pair of Dippers, an adult and a juvenile, as well as this flower which we had not previously come across.

In the woods, where we didn't meet another soul, moths were stirring. Despite the low light level, I managed this image with my phone.

Gold Swift?
The next day saw us revisiting Nethy Bridge but this time on foot. Taking a circuitous route through Abernethy Forest and occasionally using the Speyside Way, we encountered many insects making the most of the bright sunshine and abundant flowers. In no time at all, we'd racked up sightings of Golden-ringed Dragonfly, Four-spotted Chaser, Large Red Damselfly, Common Blue Damselfly and this record shot of a Northern Emerald dragonfly (I think).

Butterfly highlights included a Small Heath and several Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries.

It was very hot for folks used to Orkney weather, but fortuitously, we discovered a lovely cafe by the bridge over the Nethy in Nethy Bridge called, unsurprisingly, the Nethy Bridge Cafe.


Anonymous said...

It sounds lovely. Great pictures too. Loved the pearl bordered especially. Off emperor hunting tomorrow. Send luck 😉

Imperfect and Tense said...

Hi CT, I'm reading Matthew Oates' 'In Pursuit of Butterflies' at the moment, which has made me realise how important it is to be in the right place at the right time. Wishing you good luck indeed!

Mark said...

Did well with the Butterflies we have a lot in Lincs again but they're not landing! Just for the record saw my first Purple Emperor in Southrey wood. It was impossible to photograph it, stalked it for about 15 mins - dont know what people must have thought but I'm not bothered.

Imperfect and Tense said...

I never have much luck with planned butterfly forays, as they descend into the quintessential cunning plan with one small flaw. Swallowtail, Purple Emperor, you name it, I've missed it. It would seem that my preferred method of Lepidoptering is to leave things to happenstance. The Frit in the blog was on a patch of Thyme that also attracted bees, a Small Tortoiseshell, several moths and a passing Common Blue.

Mark said...

you've got a way with words Tensey ;*)

Spadger said...

What a lovely blog! Sounds such a nice relaxing walk with lots of nature thrown in and of course where would one be without a cafe stop?