Wandering in the Culag Woods
There’s not much I enjoy more than a good wander with a camera, no matter the distance or time of year. Actually, neither of those qualifications is completely true. I generally don’t go for miles, and in the middle of summer! Not my first choice.
Having been in the Culag Woods a few days earlier building fences I wanted to get back when there was more time for photography.
Saturday 4th November 2023 was a stunning early winter’s day. Before getting anywhere near the woods I had to spend an hour, or so at Lochan Sgeireach near Stoer.
Well, I didn’t have to spend an hour. But, when you get the chance to watch, and photograph, a winter plumaged female Long-tailed Duck, Clangula hyemalis at close(ish) quarters you just have to.
It was an unusual sight for me at least. I’m much more used to seeing these ducks a good bit further away and on the sea. This was a fresh water loch. She seemed fine though and was feeding frequently. This species of duck eats molluscs and other animal food. You can see the serrated edge to the upper mandible in the extreme crop photo. Useful when your catching live food!
The woods at last
Eventually I made it to the Woodside car park of the Culag Woods. It had been a cold damp night, and lots of the vegetation in the woods was still carrying the weight of the night time moisture. Stunning!
My frustration with my wanders is my lack of knowledge of the ‘wildlife’. That frustration is not as bad as it used to be. Frustratingly, the problem that comes with knowing a bit more is you realise how much more there is still to know! That doesn’t stop my wanders with a camera though. All of Assynt’s wildlife can be enjoyed without knowing what any of it is called. If it seems that it can only be enjoyed or appreciated by those in the know then that is not good.
All the photos accompanying this post were taken between the car park and the junction of the footpath near the playpark area. The willow fencing had been added to since the volunteer visit. I spoke with Andy Summers on the Monday and he admitted to having taken the local primary school kids to give them a go at weaving the willow fence.
Andy, in his guise as the Highlife Highland Countryside Ranger has an appointment every week with the school kids. He still acts like, and has the energy of a man half his age. Don’t remember having that much energy even when I was 30!!
There isn’t much information about the subjects in these photos. That’s partly down to the knowledge thing, but mainly because the photos were taken simply because the subjects were there, in plain sight.
A common occurrence when I go wandering in the Culag Woods.
Give it a go sometime.
All photos ©David Haines