, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, 13th June was spent at the coast of the Moray Firth again, about fifteen miles to the east of where we had been the previous day. The hope was to see dolphins, especially in the afternoon. Spoiler alert – we did not. It was cold and windy for most of the morning but it warmed up and calmed down in the afternoon. Sue S, one of the Grant Arms Hotel’s local guides, was the leader of the people I was with for the day.

It took about an hour to get to Spey Bay, and I arrived a few minutes in advance of the meeting time, to find almost no-one else from the hotel there. It was at least 20 minutes before most people arrived – apparently there had been an accident on the road, causing a holdup, not long after I had passed through.

Just looking at this photo reminds me of how cold it was.

Waiting for others to arrive, I perused this board and thought how nice it would be to walk the Speyside Way – not that I can see myself ever doing it.

More evidence of how windy it was.

Looking landward, once we got going walking inland, with the river to our right:

On the water side, there was this growth on a distant islet. Our leader did not know what it was. It looks very exotic to me, and perhaps rather invasive. I could be quite wrong. Using my app, on this photo, suggests that it may be the first year of the biennial, Giant hogweed – if so it definitely is invasive, and very damaging to human health.

We were pleased to see an osprey, and I took rather a lot of photos, of which these are a fraction.

Not deliberately taken, but I was pleased to capture this including a Common tern.

It needed maximum zoom to see these swans

The osprey came back,

and I was just able to catch it in full dive for a fish in the sea. Earlier we had seen it successful, but I don’t know whether it was this time.

Further away there were dozens of terns.

And nearer, a grey heron.

Walking inland to get back to our cars eventually, we spotted a distant pheasant

and I hung around to catch this House martin leave its next (to which it had only just returned) to forage for its young. (‘Forage’ when it’s catching insects in the air?)

This was near the café. I have no idea what it is. A sundial of some sort? The sun was no-where to be seen to try it out.

Very, very distant gulls.

After a coffee to warm us up, we got in our cars to go to the other side of the estuary, at Kingston, and ate our picnic lunches, in my case just a banana, because with a full breakfast and three course dinner, that was all that was needed.

We were still in the Spey Bay reserve of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, here looking back to where we had been in the morning, the Moray Firth now to our left.

A pleasant spot to eat, and it’s warming up.

We wandered eastwards along the shore, looking out for dolphins, which had been seen there recently, but sadly there were none for us, nor anything else of particular wildlife interest. But it was warmer now, with just a light breeze, so it was pleasant just being there.

Another tumbling WWII pillbox.

People started peeling off, and in the end it was just Sue and I left to walk slowly back via heathland…

… to the car park, where we saw this cultivated bush, which our different apps identified as Maori holly, olearia ilicifolia