After a couple of wet and windy days on the west coast of Scotland, including the arduous drive down Ardnamurchan Point to be greeted by a bank of fog, only the resident American Black Duck at Strontian and a couple of sparring White-tailed Eagles to slightly raise the excitement levels, we headed across to Speyside.
Arriving in our accommodation late afternoon, a wander around the forest produced a superb but all too brief juvenile Goshawk, darting across a clearing, perching briefly before disappearing into the trees.
This morning we awoke to the sound of rain, and following a leisurely breakfast, we took the chance that the Met Office forecast for Inverness was correct and headed to the Moray Firth in search of some dolphins. Amazingly the forecast was correct as the sun broke through the clouds and there wasn't a breath of wind, something I can't remember ever experiencing at usually one of the coldest spots in Scotland - Chanonry Point. Typically the small car park here was already nearly full when we arrived and the only dolphins were very distant, and they stayed that way the whole 2 hours were were there.
A chance text message from our AirBnB owner told us of a couple of Basking Sharks on Nairn Harbour, something we had hoped to see on the west coast, but the weather was far from suitable. Here though, the sea was like a mill pond, and immediately on arrival at the harbour, we could see the distinctive fin and tail tips of a Basking Shark offshore. A scan around revealed at least four other Basking Sharks, though most quite distant, and became more distant as the tide receded.
With the glorious weather, we had to drag ourselves away for a prior appointment in Badger Hide. We met our host, Allan, in Boat of Garten and followed him in his car to the parking spot, and after a short walk arrived at the hide. The hide is run by the Boat of Garten Wildlife Group who do other conservation initiatives in the village. Less than half an hour after arriving and the peanuts being put out, the Badger arrived, as early as 7pm while it was still light. This was quickly followed by a couple more and eventually had 5 at one time, including a cub. The badgers fed completely unconcerned just feet from the hide, and were completely unconcerned by camera noises or even our host talking about some conservation issues.