Had a long weekend off work and decided to head to a "local" spot for a walk (this is said to distract the missus from the genuine purpose) and birdwatching.
I drove the 1.5hrs from Glasgow to Inversnaid on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. It really is quite a spot. I detest the usual throng of traffic and people associated with the western, busy shore and was delighted to find that we didn't come across one other person on our walk, which always makes you feel like you really are in the wilderness.
As for the birds, there were no surprises but the abundance of the staple birds was pleasing. I took a route from Glasgow to Aberfoyle, along the Pass of Aberfoyle to Glen Arklet. Telling the truth, there was a sudden slamming of the brakes as we entered the Glen. I had glanced to the right along the high ridge to see a raptor break the skyline. A sighting of a golden eagle at a lower altitude would be fortunate in these parts but you've just got to check. Sure enough, it was a sparrowhawk impersonating an eagle at distance. It was playing in the wind over a rocky ridge and not at all what I had expected it to be (the assumption being buzzard).
Moving on to the reserve itself, we walked along the shore of Loch Lomond. At the car park (it's always the car park isn't it!), we saw a large group of around 15 long-tailed tits accompanied by a multitude of sparrows. There was also the obligatory, noisy and bold robin hopping around the car bonnet. He was looking particularly good against the late winter sun over the loch.
Further along the path, which follows the shore of the loch and moves from being lochside to a little elevated, I heard a small splash and looked to see a Dipper foraging at the mouth of a little burn. The rain these past few weeks in Glasgow has been never-ending and the reserve was saturated to say the least.
Walking back to the car, I caught a flash of movement on the trees at the loch side. I risked a soaking to get a slightly better look and was rewarded with excellent views of a treecreeper hopping from branch to branch at the loch side.
My passion is raptors and unfortunately, I dipped on any of the more formidable ones on the walk. I suppose that's why the interest keeps going because you simply can't tell when they'll choose to appear.
And of course, they do so regularly appear, on the drive home. It was almost dark when I caught a fleeting view of a tawny owl off the main road near Killearn.
It was my first trip to RSPB Inversnaid and one I could recommend. I am looking forward to returning and exploring the paths around the higher ground in search of my favourites.