First thing Saturday morning, I checked the tides for Inverness and discovered that we would be heading out around low tide-the Bottle Nosed Dolphins at Channory Point are usually present on a rising tide, so we decided to head there first particularly as it was cool and windy.
It took a while but eventually four or five dolphins appeared on the horizon. They were feeding off Fort George where presumably the water was deep enough for them. We stuck it out for an hour but they stayed in the distance-the tide was pretty low and shoals were still present off Channory. While waiting we were entertined by a Grey Seal, some Hooded Crows a flyby Eider and many Arctic
Eventually we headed off to Bienne Eigh, stopping off at a bridge in Strathconnon where we had seen Dipper previously. It was raining and although we waited for some time, birds failed to appear.
The drive up to bienne Eigh was much more scenic than I remember-maybe it was the weather. We saw a few butterflies on the way-Green Vein Whites, as well as a couple of Grey Wagtails.
We explored several areas on the shores of Loch Maree in the hope of picking up the various northern Dragonfly species but all we encountered was a single Golden Ringed in the boggy area north of Bienne Eigh visitors centre, which was full of Heath Spotted Orchids. No sign of any divers from any of the car parks-the views were pretty poor through the trees anyway, but we did get a flyby Dark Green Fritillary for our troubles.
Gruinard Bay failed to produce any eagles, but we saw many Black Guillemots, Guillemots, Cormorants, Shags, as well as a couple of Red Throated and Black Throated Divers, and Red Breasted Mergansers. A few orchids included some Fragrant and Common Spotted. I went down to the beach to pick up some rocks-the area is Lewisian Gneiss, just about the oldest to be found on the mainland.
Sunday morning was pretty wet at times. No chnace of any dragonflies or butterflies. We spent a few hours exploring parts of Culbin Forest, aiming for some of the dune slacks that are found there. Bird life was pretty quiet, but the lichens mosses and ferns hepled to make up for it. As mentioned earlier, we failed to locate any Coral Root Orchids, but there were several areas where Creeping Ladies Tresses could be found. These were in bud.
Lochindorb was also pretty wet, in fact we had never seen the streams so full. A family party of Red Grouse was nice to see, and we encountered a pair of Short Eared Owls hunting.
We stopped off at Tore Hill where Colin had found a spot where Lesser Twayblade had been seen a few years earlier. We searched in the rain, but could not locate any. In view of the fact that a number of others had not seen these orchids in the area has led me to suspect they may have either gone over or had a poor year.
We then headed down to Fort William, finishing the day at Loch Arkaig, one of the best Chequered Skipper sites. They were flying a month ago, so we did not expect to see any, but we did see a Small Pearl Bordered among the many Heath Spotted Orchids. A very brief Azure Hawker landed on Colin, but I was too slow with the camera-the only other dragonfly was the more ubiquitous Golden Ringed. The waterfalls near the gate were worth stopping for.