Day 1: Bone exhibition
On the first day of our holiday, we spent most of our time travelling, but we did stop for lunch at a big house, where there was a bone exhibition, called bare bones. There was an osprey skeleton, which was in the position of when it caught a fish, a heron, a couple of frogs, a meerkat, a coypu (about the size of a beaver), and replicas of a lion, horse, dolphin, gorilla and human. We arrived in Perth quite late that night.
Day 2: Red kites
We were staying in quite a small lodge in Perth for another night, and then travelling up to Arisiag. On day 2 we decided to go to the Argaty red kites feeding station. When we drove in, a flock of mistle thrushes flew past us. They are the biggest of our native thrushes (including winter visitors). The kites were being fed at 2pm, so we had our lunch and then went to the hide. The big birds of prey were already screaming, and it seemed they new it was feeding time! We went up to the hide, and there were ravens calling, and bullfinches on the berry trees. Some people came round and put a bucket of meat out for them, and they were all watching from telegraph poles or pine trees. I got a really good film of one on a pole. None came down, but they seemed like they wanted to. We did at least see some magpies and carrion crows come down for the food. After some of the people in the hide went, the red kites started swooping down to get the food! They didn’t even have to land to eat, but just ate in the air. We saw a juvenile land (they can’t eat in flight), and we noticed it had a wing tag, and and I took a good film of it. So this year, I can definitely tick off red kite on my year’s list.
Day 3: Loch of Lowes
Before travelling up to Arisaig, we went to Loch of Lowes nature reserve, where they have breeding ospreys. They had a lot of feeders out, and there were quite a few siskins, another species for my year list. There were also pheasants and mallards feasting from the feeders. We went to the hide, and there was already an osprey on a dead silver birch tree, preening its brown and white feathers. It stayed there for quite a while, before taking off, beating its long, heavy wings, only about 100 metres from the hide. We went down to a different hide, and there were some mute swans. In the same hide, we also saw a female scaup diving, which is a duck I haven’t seen for about four years. Some fallow deer also came out of the woods, a female with a calf, and these were my first of these types of deer and the first new mammal species of the holiday. After about 5 minutes they leapt of into the woodland, but popped up again in a few minutes. When we went back to the car, in the bit of woodland were some roe deer (also a female with a calf) which looked straight at my camera when I was filming! They were not my first roe deer, but only the second time in my life, so it was an extremely good sighting.