Scotland 2016 Pictures Day 1

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I went to Scotland for a week to meet and stay with Jack Harrison and see the Scotch Argus. Just 3 and a half hours after leaving London, I saw my first Scotch Argus on the way from the airport at Shaw Hill! After settling in we visited Nairn Harbour for tea and a wander, enjoying the warm sunshine while it lasted. We ran a moth trap overnight which yielded interesting results. Then after going out via Shaw Hill to Nairn Highstreet we had a lovely drive Eastwards along the coast to Findhorn, Burghead and as far as Lossiemouth before returning home. The third day was a washout and so was a quiet restful day with lots of photo processing. On day 4, after a morning walk, we had lunch at the Cawdor Tavern to celebrate Stella's birthday. Then followed a lovely drive out onto the moors to the Banchor area where we saw many Scotch Argus by the river Findhorn, before returning back home. Day 5 featured a trip to Lochindorb up on the moors. We just missed an Osprey apparently. But it was a nice wander around the Loch surrounded by heather. Later in the day back home we fed the birds while filming a timelapse of them. The moth trap was run again overnight. Day 6 was a very windy one but with sunshine. It made Nairn Beach interesting with blowing sand whipped up into a mesmerising sight. On the way back I got out early and enjoyed a breezy walk back along the quiet country road. On day 7 we went to explore the spectacular Dulsie Bridge and a gorge before visiting Grantown on Spey and Speybridge. Then after driving as far as Archiestown we took a cross country route back via a village called Dallas. Day 8 was a slow start before driving to the airport to catch a late morning flight home. It was a lovely week away and great to see Jack and Stella again, as well as hundreds of Scotch Argus and some lovely Scottish coastal scenery.

Please see below for an index to this trip. Note that butterflies and moths are counted separately as they are linked through from the butterflies and moths gallery and counted there rather than here.

Day 1
Tue 02/08/2016
London to Scotland, Shaw Hill Scotch Argus, Jack's Place and Nairn Harbour (45 + 12 Butterflies and Moths)
Day 2
Wed 03/08/2016
Lethen moths and birds, Shaw Hill Scotch Argus, Nairn High Street, Findhorn, Burghead and Lossiemouth (50 + 47 Butterflies and Moths)
Days 3 and 4
Thu-Fri 04-05/08/2016
Wet, Morning Walk, Cawdor Tavern, Drive onto Moors, Banchor Scotch Argus, Drive Back, Evening (46 + 9 Butterflies and Moths)
Day 5
Sat 06/08/2016
Fornighty Butterflies, Lochindorb, Bridge of Bantrach, Go Pro Bird Timelapse and Evening View (32 + 4 Butterflies)
Day 6
Sun 07/08/2016
Morning Birds and Moths, Nairn Beach and Harbour, Lethen Walk, Lethen Birds and Weather (44 + 36 Butterflies and Moths)
Days 7 and 8
Mon-Tue 08-09/08/2016
Fornighty Butterflies, Dulsie Bridge, Grantown, Speybridge, Castle Grant, Archiestown to Dallas, Homebound (47 + 18 Butterflies and Moths)
Arrival (0)
Drive To Shaw Hill (6)
Shaw Hill (3 + 11 Butterflies and Moths)
Moray Firth View (3 + 1 Butterfly)
Jack's Place (13)
Nairn Harbour (17)
Jack's Place 2 (3)
Lethen Moths and Birds (6 + 30 Moths)
Shaw Hill (1 + 2 Butterflies)
Nairn High Street (4)
Findhorn (7 + 9 Butterflies and Moths)
Burghead (27 + 6 Butterflies and Moths)
Lossiemouth (5)
Wet (1)
Morning Walk (8 + 1 Butterfly)
Cawdor Tavern (18)
Drive onto Moors (13)
Banchor (5 + 8 Butterflies and Moths)
Drive Back and Evening (1)
Fornighty Butterflies (3 Butterflies)
Trip to Lochindorb (23)
Trip to Bridge of Bantrach (7 + 1 Butterfly)
Go Pro Bird Timelapse and Evening View (2)
Morning Birds and Moths (2 + 33 Moths)
Nairn Beach and Harbour (25)
Lethen Walk (5 + 3 Butterflies)
Lethen Birds and Weather (12)
Fornighty Butterflies (1 + 3 Butterflies)
Dulsie Bridge (22 + 4 Butterflies)
Grantown (8)
Speybridge (10 + 7 Butterflies and Moths)
Castle Grant (1 + 4 Butterflies)
Archiestown to Dallas (5)
Last Day (0)

Total Photos: 264 + 126 Butterflies and Moths (390 Photos in Total)

Photos Tuesday 2nd August 2016 - Day 1


After a 6AM start, mum and I left at 6:30AM and drove through light rain and heavy traffic. Despite that I got to the airport well in time for the bag drop to open. Mum drove the car home after my drop off. After a Frankie & Benny's veggie cooked breakfast and boarding we departed for Inverness 5 minutes late at 9:35AM. It was a shame I didn't get a window seat but never mind it's only a short flight. It was one of the more featureless flights anyway with thick cirrostratus over a thicker lower layer most of the way. Although it did clear to nice cumulus as we descended into Inverness. I didn't take any pictures as I wasn't near a window alas. It did seem like Northeast Scotland was the only corner of the country with nice weather. We landed at 10:58AM and on arrival I found Jack waiting in the main hall near the luggage conveyor belt. After a short delay waiting for my case we were on our way in Jack's new sporty mini convertible by 11:30AM.

Drive To Shaw Hill

We drove some nice country roads. The plan was to stop at some Scotch Argus sites on the way back. The weather was lovely but with bad weather approaching we wanted to make use of the weather. After a pause at a ford we arrived at Shaw Hill some time before 1PM.






Jack's lovely mini parked by the ford. Looking down and upstream at the ford over Muckle Burn upstream of the A939. Lovely narrow country road through the forest. Crossing a clearer patch before Shaw Hill.

Shaw Hill

We arrived to a welcoming committee of Speckled Woods. Ringlets were also present as well as the target, the Scotch Argus. It was nice to have seen the Scotch Argus by 1PM, just 3 and a half hours after leaving London. It was lovely in the hot sunshine, but the warmth was making the Scotch Arguses hyperactive and hard to photograph. But patience and stalking got me some reasonable shots despite hundreds of flies starting to hound us later in the shoot.






Ringlet. One of several streams on Shaw Hill. My first ever Scotch Argus picture! Silver Ground Carpet moth. Two shots of a Scotch Argus as I chased it though the bracken.






Two basking Scotch Argus. Another Scotch Argus at rest. Three shots of a Scotch Argus feeding on Hawkweed, and caught in the act of taking off.


Jack took this picture of me with his FZ200 while I was stalking and photographing Scotch Argus from a Hawkweed filled layby.

Moray Firth View

Soon we moved on and at 1:30PM just down the road a pause at a nice spot afforded a nice view North across the Moray Firth towards Cromarty. By now it was about 18C and the mini with its roof down was lovely.




Views of the Moray Firth from near Shaw Hill. The road from Shaw Hill to Lethen. Speckled Wood.

Jack's Place

We were only round the corner from Jack's place so we got there at 1:40PM. I said hello to Stella, settled into my room (the lounge with an added put you up bed) and had my sandwiches and took pictures while the sun shone.




180 degree panorama from across the road to Jack's place, looking northwest. The next door neighbour had a very ornate garden. Jack's wildflower meadow garden. The gravel driveway is a challenge to drive up.




Jack and Stella's place from the back. Photos of the back garden and flower beds.





The living room with a comfy put you up bed is my bedroom for the week. Nice view Southeastwards out of the living room window. Fluffy the cat. (The other cat, Minnie, was too scared of me to have a photo taken.) The Mini and the Skoda.

Nairn Harbour

At 2:35PM we went out with Stella also coming along. We headed Northeast along nice roads before heading through Nairn to the coast. It clouded over by 3PM as we entered Nairn and went through to Fishertown. We parked at Nairn Harbour and went for a short walk. It was cooler here by the sea and I needed my longsleeve. There was a small pier alongside rocks slowly being submerged by an incoming tide. Turnstones in summer plumage, Redshanks, juvenile and adult Herring Gulls, and a hybrid Hooded crow were all seen.



Interesting disturbed cloudscape as we drive to Nairn Harbour. 360 degree panorama half way along the jeti.






Redshanks. Oystercatcher. Turnstone in summer plumage. Hybrid Hooded Crow.






More Redshanks. Juvenile Herring Gulls. Redshank. The bar where the birds were gathered, soon to be covered by the incoming tide. TODO: Which species of gull are these?


Panorama from the end of the jeti. Panorama of the harbour from near the café.

After observing for a while we headed to the nearby Basil Harbour cafe for tea and coffee before they closed at 4PM. Then we went back via Sainsbury's for supplies to get back to base at about 5PM.

Jack's Place 2

Plenty of chatting ensued, as well as dinner and photo processing. There were plenty of local birds to see including some acrobatic but impossible to photograph house martins. While making dinner Jack set up the moth trap which was to run all night.



Jack's weather station. The moth trap ready to go. A nice Small Tortoiseshell butterfly model on the wall of the house.

Eventually we retired for the night at 8:30PM. Outside it finally did rain as it got dark. I watched TV and continued production of my Frankfurt photo diary until I got too tired and went to sleep myself.

Tomorrow the weather looks uncertain and may not be that great, but it doesn't look too bleak as it may simply be sunshine and showers. We shall see tomorrow. The plan will be to head to Findhorn (just past ex RAF Kinloss) and explore the dunes there before making our way Eastwards along the coast as far as Burghead and maybe as far as Lossiemouth.

Click here to go forward to Scotland 2016 Day 2.