A Life in the Slow Lane

Loitering with a distinct lack of intent

Today has been another magnificent highland day, with barely a cloud in the sky, no wind and a temperature in the high teens. I don’t think it gets much better in this neck of the woods.

As a result of this and the fact that we are going to up our touring tempo from tomorrow – well it could hardly be any slower – we decided to have one final relaxing day.

Sarah, of course, had to get in her 10,000 steps, which I think she’s managed every day this trip, which is more than can be said for me. I, on the other hand, had a lovely relaxing ramble along the banks of the nearby river with the birding lens for company.

This birding malarky is giving me a new appreciation of the countryside, because instead of marching at high speed from point A to point B, in order to get a good choice of seeing wildlife it is necessary to proceed slowly and cautiously listening for sounds and spotting the slightest movement.

I managed to get a good photograph of a Willow Warbler today. According to my birding book they are one of Britain’s commonest birds with an estimated 2 million pairs, but I never remember seeing one before. Correction, probably I and anyone else that has spent time in the countryside has probably seen them many times, but unless you’re looking you don’t see them as anything other than “oh look there’s a bird”. It doesn’t help that they are what my Camera Club friends would call a “little brown jobby” which makes identification difficult, unlike the well known colourful birds.

Willow Warbler

So we sat around in our comfy outdoor chairs, researching the next part of our journey and reading our novels.

Talking about colourful birds, I was sitting next to Basil when a little sparrow like bird alighted only a few metres from me and started pecking the ground. Much to my surprise the bird had a red cap and red breast, but otherwise looked like a small sparrow. Luckily my birding lens had not gone away and so I got a nice photo of a Redpoll. Again, not particularly rare, but one I don’t remember seeing before and with it’s bright red cap, it’s difficult to miss!


I have also been chatting again to the two ladies in their 70’s, who got their motorbikes out and went touring for the day. One of them was wearing a t-shirt which read, upside down, “if you can read this please put me the right way up”! It also transpires that they are both advanced scuba divers having done more than 600 dives each and they kayak, with each of them having a kayak on top of their car. Talk about making the most of life. Makes my birding pastime look distinctly weedy, which in all honesty it is!

Tomorrow we are finally going to start touring with a bit more conviction. Our intention is to have a day or two to the north of her on the Applecross peninsular, before crossing over to Skye and finally to the Outer Hebrides.