Osprey, Loch Garten

September 2023 - Coast and hills

It was a relief to enjoy some drier weather following July’s wash out. Our bees were desperately in need of it and so was the heather. After little blossom honey this summer, we hope for a better heather crop and the moors seem to be delivering. A trip over the Lammermuir Hills showed the heather in full bloom to the extent that I returned a few days later to grab some images of red grouse amongst their purple surroundings. Heather moorland in August is always a sight to behold and Scotland has vast swathes of it.

During mid-to-late summer, foliage can be so dense to make wildlife photography challenging and the vibrant greens of spring are long gone, hence I tend to head to the coast or the hills. A couple of trips to the Firth of Forth were rewarding with shots of the sun setting behind the estuary’s islands. While enjoying the orange afterglow, I ended up chatting with a couple at North Berwick about how watching nature ‘do its thing’ can make all the woes of everyday-living temporarily vanish. The therapeutic qualities of nature are well documented and it is always refreshing to see people swap sunsets for depressing 24-hour news!

We managed a few days up in Kingussie which allowed me some early morning photography on the River Tromie. While the location is all too familiar to me, it’s different every visit as the season, weather and water level always vary. At the falls, the black, saturated rock contrasted beautifully with the white water providing some interesting images (one of which I posted on Facebook). As both sun and temperature rose, the midges started to appear and so it was time to return for breakfast.

We also took the chance to visit a friend who volunteers at Loch Garten Osprey Centre. It had been a while since our last visit and were greeted with plenty of action as an intruding bird was trying to harass the fledged chicks off the nest. I also enjoyed watching the smaller garden birds visiting the numerous feeders liberally placed around the centre. No red squirrels or crested tits but we did enjoy a greater spotted woodpecker.

While walking the estate where I work, I came across a yellow sack hanging off the side of a dead piece of tree trunk. I had not seen it before so photographed it to provide me with a reference for research. To my surprise, it turned out to be the wonderfully named ‘Dog vomit slime mould’! Strangely enough, I didn’t feel inclined to research any further… Meantime, the thistles are all seeding and stand with burgeoning, fluffy heads awaiting the first puff of wind to send them off into the atmosphere to discover lands anew. However, the leaves are beginning to turn, the nights are drawing in and autumn seems to be creeping closer. A new season beckons.