Since today is Fathers’ Day I was allowed my very own treat – a visit to the RSPB reserve at Loch Garten. But this being Team Basil, there was a price to pay – a visit from the phantom barber.
Since we left home, nearly two months ago, I have not trimmed my beard. Having been clean shaven throughout my life it has been no little pleasure to grow a beard in retirement. However it usually gets trimmed every two weeks or so and therefore after two months of beard growth I was beginning to look like Captain Haddock of Tin Tin fame. Sarah had had enough and so this morning out came the beard trimmers and hair clippers and my head and face were chopped into some kind of neatness.
Thus looking worthy of the title “father” we set off for RSPB Loch Garten, which is only 8 miles from our site. Loch Garten is famous for its Ospreys. In the early 20th Century Ospreys were extinct in the UK, but in 1954 a pair of Scandinavian Ospreys set up their nest at Loch Garten and with protection from the RSPB, Ospreys established themselves at the Loch and now there are over 200 pairs of breeding Ospreys in the UK.
We had already established that the dogs were not allowed in the Osprey Centre and so we started with a walk through the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest around the Loch. This is the last remnant of the type of pine forest which was common throughout Scotland. I took my birding lens but the only thing of interest I was able to see was a female Goldeneye duck and it’s ducklings. There are other interesting species here such as three species of Crossbill and Crested Tits but they all feed at the top of the very tall pine trees and are difficult to see.
Following our walk I went to the Osprey Centre, from which you can see the current Osprey nest both through binoculars and via a nest camera. Unfortunately this year the Osprey’s have not been successful. Eggs have been laid but the male has not been good at providing fish to the mother which has resulted in the female spending too much time hunting and the eggs have not hatched.
While I was at the centre there were no Ospreys on the nest, but I was able to photograph Siskins, Greater Spotted Woodpeckers and Red Squirrels, which was rewarding. On top of that I treated myself to a fathers day present – membership of the RSPB. Sarah gets to be a free member too!!
Tonight we are going to the local pub in Carrbridge to celebrate and tomorrow we are heading further south through some of the rugged sections of the Cairngorms.