Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Monday, 23 August 2010

Culbin Forest

So up early in the morning, very early in order to try to see capercaillies. Beautiful day, sunny and calm but no capercaillies in 4 hours of searching. Did pish out crested tits, even had one down to 6 feet as the photo will show when I've charged the batteries on my digital up. Problem with camping, no electric points!

Also pished a male redstart and a female siskin. Great when pishing works.

Out of the forest and a long cycle in the gale that wasn't felt in the forest. The wind was from the west so was at 10 o'clock, if you get my meaning i.e. in the face from the left. Over the moors with beautiful views in the sunshine and eventually after 24 miles, down to Nairn.

Soon found the RSPB reserve at Culbin Sands and felt very daunted by its size. Cycled along the coastline path but that soon disintigrated to mud so went into the forest where I luckily met a couple who had a trail guide. Started counting butterflies and by the time I'd cycled to the tower had seen 203 scotch argus, 11 speckled woods and a single peacock. 26 bird species including crested tits, spotted flycatcher, a whimbrel and treecreeper. Really is an immense forest and the 8 miles of forest tracks cycled was just a taster.

First family met were from Inverness. Garvie with Mum and Dad were walking their new alsation. Lovely people as always on my trip.

After climbing the tower and enjoying the views, met a fabulous bloke - Bob. "Come to our caravan for coffee", was the order, so I did. Well I would wouldn't I?

Bob's caravan was painted with camouflage colours and his children, Ilana and Roshana were wonderful. Bob's wife, Carly, reminded me of someone and it was after a while, over the forementioned coffee, that I remembered. Trace at Rigby hall School, my work place when I'm not skiving off. Same mannerisms, voice, even looks. Could have been Tracey's sister! Both are marvellous people.

A brilliant evening spent with Bob's family first, being shown a superb stag roe deer skull that had been found on the beach by the girls at Fort George. Also shown the bottle-nosed photos that carly had taken at the same place. She'd got a brilliant one of one jumping. Got to go there!

Then invited for dinner by Su, a campervan motorcyclist and therapist. She talked about her circumstances and gave me a free theray session on 'the arc of reponsibility.' Another fabulous person to meet, sincere and interesting as well as thought provoking. Right, now I know that I will achieve this trip.

Marshmallows by a camp fire with the girls and a comfortable night in the tent.

22nd August 2010

Up early and a group of titmice, including crested, and treecreepers surrounded me as I had breakfast of sorts on the picnic bench. Did my washing in the toilet block and went for a walk into the forest.

Morning spent with the marvellous Dalton family with Bob being an absolute star in helping service Sid, the bike. By the way I may not have mentioned this before but the bike is a Cannondale and was given to me by a brilliant bloke, Gert. If I have mentioned this before forgive me but Gert deserves massive credit because without this bike I'd not have got far.

More thanks have to go to Opticron too because the binoculars they have given me for this trip have been superb. Thanks so much Opticron.

Right! Left Culbin and cycled to Fort George. Explored this huge fort but I was there mainly to see bottle-nosed dolphins and they didn't disappoint. Around 20 of them came very close to the shore, heading out on the ebbing tide. Brilliant.

Camped on the Moray Firth shoreline about 4 miles east of Inverness and the evening was spent watching waders, more bottle-nosed dolphins, mergansers, herons and terns from the tent whilst eating tea. What a life!

All the very best everyone and love to the Daltons and Su.

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