First published: 11-Sept-2001
On Sunday I wanted to go back to the hills where I have photographed the stoats before. I have had two unsuccessful stake-outs recently, and although I was a bit disappointed, it is interesting to see what other wildlife is about. There are certainly plenty of Mountain Hares in those hills. I haven’t seen any live ones there yet, but there was a dead one and plenty of hare droppings. It will become easier to spot the hares and stoats in the winter when they turn white. There is also a resident pair of ravens in the area and I have seen a Peregrine Falcon. The ravens were flying over now and again, probably to check out whether I was still alive or whether they could start their dinner.
When I looked out the window on Sunday the sky to the east was so much clearer that I changed my mind and decided to revisit Culbin Forest, a lovely stretch of forest on the coast between Nairn and Findhorn. It was a bit moist and quite stormy, but the trees caught most of it. There were a lot of black slugs on the paths and verges and, call me sad, I got quite fascinated by them. I tried to get some close-up shots. Without much success. whenever I came close they pulled in their antennae and as soon as they came out again the slug would turn around and go in the opposite direction. I didn’t spend too much time with it because they will be around all year and mushrooms aren’t. There were these delicate little Mycena mushrooms and also some big Fly Agarics.
So I spend a long time on my belly on the ground. I managed to give some people a real fright because they thought I had collapsed by the side of the path. They were relieved when they realised I was just taking photos. For this type of photography my Dutch rain cape comes in very handy. It’s a simple, big, square waterproof cape that you would use on a bicycle, because you can hang the front of it over the handlebar to keep your legs dry. Nowadays it’s a multipurpose cape for me. Of course useful against the rain, but also because it’s green you can use it as a mini-hide and finally you can put it on the ground to keep away dirt (and ticks). Unfortunately it didn’t protect against the gnats, that gave me a few nasty bites.
I was really enjoying the forest, it was beautiful with the purple heather. However, I didn’t realise with all the photography stops how far I had gone. I went towards Findhorn Bay and although my foot was already sore I was stubborn and decided to go all the way to the beach. Bad decision. The walk back was a long and painful one. Fortunately no real harm done. Afterwards I looked on the map and was amazed that it must have been about 11km. Probably the furthest I have ever walked since I had an accident in 1996.