Two girls on a mountain top

November 2nd 2017

Monday 30th October 2017 and I had the morning to myself after a busy weekend of visitors and family chaos. Desperate to stretch my legs and shake off cabin fever I parked at Loch Assynt layby and, knowing my time constraints, I decided to head straight up Quinag from the south side.

I could see the line to take which would avoid scree and boulders. Halfway I disturbed a group of stags but was careful not to panic them into hurting themselves; they weren’t used to seeing people up here. An hour and a half later I was just under the top of Spidean Coinich where I sat on some massive boulders for a rest and to enjoy the view. I was just thinking that I might be lucky enough to see a ptarmigan as I’d noticed droppings nearby. They look similar to grouse droppings but it would be unlikely to see grouse this high.

While just sitting I looked over to my right and there, quite nearby, sat a lone female ptarmigan. She saw me but didn’t move. Beautiful in autumn plumage the under half was white and the top half still mottled grey. I sat very still breathing quietly enjoying the moment. Her feathered feet and round body looked hen-like and contrasted with the stark boulder field we were on. After sitting together quietly for what seemed like ages I slowly reached inside my pocket for my phone so that I could take her picture. She twitched a bit. I stopped my arm moving. Is it worth it I thought? But then knew I’d regret it if I didn’t try.

So here is the picture of this lovely bird, I felt lucky that somehow we had connected on the top of this mountain and she didn’t seem afraid. Eventually she flew off and I thanked her for her company before I scrambled back down Quinag’s steep slope towards my car.

Romany Garnett

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Recent Sightings

Shelduck

Two adult birds and nine juveniles off Culkein Drumbeg (DAH). Sadly a very rare record now for Assynt, but great to know we had at least one breeding pair this year. (25/07)

House Martin

15+ birds around Culkein Drumbeg jetty (DAH) and large number also around Culag Hotel, Lochinver. (Andrew Mackenzie) Both records late evening. (25/07)

Common Lizard

Single animal, Clashmore (Andrew Mackenzie) (25/07)

Red-throated Diver

Two birds, Bay of Stoer (DAH) (24/07)

Common Dolphin

15+ very active animals just off Sgeir Mhòr, Loch Kirkaig (DAH) (24/07)

Black-throated Diver

Six birds in a group, Loch Kirkaig (DAH) (24/07)

Antler moth (Cerapteryx graminis)

Single moth in Strathan garden (Jean Macleod) (24/07)

Magpie moth (Abraxas grossulariata)

Single moth Clachtoll, (Dorell Pirie) (24/07)

Map