Summer Aviemore Adventures!

Let me just start this blog by saying we have had an awesome weekend in Aviemore. We’ve not been up since the “Beast from the East” in early March. Thankfully it was a bit warmer this weekend! I’m writing this on the way back from Aviemore, which is a great way to keep entertained but I’m actually wondering if it’s a ploy to stop me talking the whole way home.

Since this is our first blog post let me clarify who is writing this! If it’s “I” I’m referring to myself, Clare (Hello) and if it’s “We” it’s both of us. Let’s continue :)

We crammed loads in to our weekend including Mountain Hares, Ospreys, Squirrels, Zip Lining, and Prosecco (obviously)

Heading straight for the Hares we set off with an obligatory stop at a garage for enough food to feed the 500. It’s such a gorgeous drive up to the Highlands and our musical entertainment came in the form of James. Kate and her husband (and his family) love going to see them live. We attended Party at the Palace in Linlithgow a couple of weeks ago where they headlined so Kate's pre education had me jumping around like a true fan at the gig!

Getting ourselves prepared for the steep climb up the hills to the Hares we saw a Golden Eagle far in the distance soaring on the thermals. Yes, it can be easy to misidentify a Goldie for a Buzzard from that far away but there was no mistaking this bird for its sheer size. The Findhorn Valley is a hotspot for all sorts of Raptors so it’s worth keeping your eyes peeled on the drive through.

Taking a few breaks on the climb up to look for Hares (handy as well for catching your breath…so we stopped a lot) It wasn’t until we got right to the top (of course) that we clocked a couple but ended up seeing 5 in total. Kate settled herself with a pretty easy going pair (one of which had already started to turn white) and I made my way a bit higher up but the ones I tried with were more wary so I left them alone and went to sit with Kate. She’d got some great shots of some lazy Hares! They weren’t for moving so we took the time to just sit and enjoy sharing the space with them, which we never really do and it’s really such a lovely experience when wild animals let you be so close to them. After a while they were a bit more active and commenced rolling around in the Heather, having a wee scratch and post-sleep lunch. Being conscious not to intrude on them for too long we made our way back down and headed for home (Carn Mhor B&B).

Friday was an early-ish night since we were up at 3.30 the next day for the Ospreys. We both woke up at half 1 though and that was us (typical!)

Meeting Gordon from Aviemore Ospreys at 4.15 we were joined by 5 other Photographers in the hide. Everyone seemed in good spirits and we had lots of chat between us all to pass the time.

The action started really early and in total we had 6 or 7 birds dive on the pond by about 6.30. There was nothing after that but that’s wildlife photography for you! The trickiest part of this hide is the lighting conditions - though as per Gordon’s words, that’s not his department!

From the hide you can see the birds circling above and attempt to dive, which isn’t always successful. There’s lots of chasing and calling between rival birds, which is awesome to watch and listen to. We were also kept amused by a lone female Mallard who was trying to eat the fish food.

It’s a strange feeling walking out the hide at 8am whilst the rest of the world starts to wake up and you’ve already had several adrenaline rushes from trying to capture these beautiful birds and do them justice.

Back to the digs for some excellent breakfast made by our host Adrian and a wee sleep before the rest of our day.

We went a walk around Loch Garten and Loch Mallachie looking for Crested Tits, which had been showing around the forest. It’s quite early in the year to see them as they normally keep hidden away once they have young so typically Winter is the best time to see them. It’s given us a good spot to go back to in the future though, away from the crowds you tend to get at the popular sites.

Onto the more adventurous part of the weekend. We booked on to the zip line at the Zip Trek in the Alvie Estate. I’d been nervous about this - I put it in the same category as flying and lifts. Kate was ready to go though and really excited.

It’s 14 zip lines throughout the forest with the finale being a 550m line at around 40mph. I’d bailed out before this one though, I just couldn’t bring myself to do the 350m one and felt sick at the thought. I felt entirely safe but it’s just not for me. I prefer to have my feet on the ground! Kate however loved it and I got some great footage of her on some of the lines.

The guys (Andy and Dave) who take you round the course were amazing! Entertaining us along the way and most importantly very understanding of my chickening out. We’d highly recommend it if you like that kind of activity!

Later that night we grabbed some takeaway pizza and chatted through our business plans including me finally writing a blog!

On our way home we always stop at a lovely spot in Rothiemurchus for some Red Squirrel action. The forest is just stunning at the moment. The ferns are lovely and tall, the heather is in full bloom with beautiful pink and purple shades. It’s alive with insects and Butterflies. Oh and MIDGES, as in…a lot of them. I just saw Kate scratching her hand on the steering wheel (it’s good for that she says)

It took a while for the Squirrels to turn up today but the one we did have was a real stunner and the difference in colours between each one is why I love Reds. She had a striped look to her dark fluffy tail, kind of like a ring tailed lemur in fact. You could see her starting to cash her nuts by burying them in the moss ready for autumn and winter (no, I’m not ready to let go of Summer!)

I had an idea of a somewhat cheesy set up shot involving a trolley but by the time I set it up they had all disappeared and didn’t come back. Maybe I should take it as a hint! Never mind…I’ll try again next time (which is only in a couple of weeks!)

So now, we’re on our way home on a high after such a cracking weekend and looking forward to our next trip. I’m back up in Aviemore with my husband later this month at a wee remote Air BnB which apparently has Squirrels, Badgers, and Pine Martens visiting the garden so hopefully there’ll be some new shots to show you.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this - please leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

Thanks :)

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