Sunday 4 August 2019

An absolutely gorges day

Jings, it's taking me some time to plough through the tales of our holiday, hence my furrowed brow.

Today's episode features the forests of Achany and Rosehall as a pine-scented backdrop to the rush of water tumbling through several rocky gorges. Apologies, that sentence veered dangerously close to toilet-based humour.

We began the day at a Forestry Commission Scotland site in Achany Forest, complete with visitor centre and cafe. Yes, yes, I know, we're lightweights when it comes to the Big Outdoors, but the tag line above does state 'wildlife and cake', so... duh!

A walk through the Spruce forest provided surprisingly good views of a pair of Bullfinches, but the pond shown on the trail guide wasn't offering up any Odonata. Another path led the way down into a ravine on the River Shin, complete with viewing platform above the Falls of Shin. Here, to our absolute delight, we spotted a Dipper feeding its young in a precariously-placed nest, just above the torrent.

Falls of Shin

Spot the beak!
We then drove alongside the Kyle of Sutherland to another forest car park at Rosehall, near Achness. Here, we at least managed a few damselfly sightings at a woodland pool, but we were still bereft of dragons.

Another path led across the road through the glen and down to the River Cassley. No visitor centre, no facilities, no cake, no viewing platform, but plenty of wonderful scenery.

The return path took us back into the forest, and we were delighted to stumble across a Red Squirrel (not on a peanut feeder, not in someone's garden), which was busy foraging, and initially not apparently aware of our presence. Eventually, some squirrely sixth sense made it look up and we were rumbled.

As we regained the main track through the forest, we put up a dragonfly from the verge. It took off flying away from us, quickly disappearing between the trees, so we only had a very brief view of its back end. An ID was impossible, but overall size and colour suggested one of the Emerald dragonflies. Later, after a browse through data on the NBN Scotland Atlas, I conclude that it was most likely to be a Northern Emerald, as this species was by far the most common species of the three (the other two being Brilliant and Downy) for the area.

Just before reaching our car, we happened upon a very fresh Red Admiral butterfly, sunning itself and venturing out into the world in its new clothes.


Coastal Ripples said...

Perfect despite the lack of cakes. Lots of pristine red admirals around here at the moment. B

Imperfect and Tense said...

My post was very late, over a month since the event. Now we're knee deep in Meadow Browns, Common Blues and Painted Ladies. Oh, never fear, we pre-caked at Shin Falls :o)