Whilst walking back down the slopes from the hares to the car, we had noticed that a thaw had set in and the following morning we awoke to a lovely sunrise. Kate had arranged for us to meet Allan Bantick (Chairman of the Scottish Wildlife Trust) mid-morning, but we had enough time to zip up to Lochindorb for the red grouse, only this time I made the effort to get my camera out. In fact I went beyond that, suggesting Kate sit in the back of the car, so we'd both be on the best side of it, should we spot something.
Allan's house is on the outskirts of Boat Of Garten, and beside the woodland surrounding it. Hence he attracts both cresties and red squirrels to his feeders. Allan and his lovely wife Heather gave us a very warm welcome, as did their dogs, who as usual befriended Kate immediately. With coffee and home-made biscuits on the go, Allan started to tell us both about his work and what he is doing in the local woodland to assist the crested tit population, with his bespoke nest boxes. As the woodland isn't really suitable for providing nest sites, he has been putting up boxes filled with wood chippings, which the tits excuvate as they would with old decaying wood, from a dead or broken tree.
He has had varying success, but is still learning about their behaviour along the way, and, judging by the feeders outside of his house, they're happy to live in the woods. Kate was sat down, but I remained standing to watch through the window, and within a few minutes I spotted one arrive, and seconds later, Kate was gleefully watching her first crestie!
After a short stroll through the local woods, listening to Allan explain his work there and Kate offer some of her seemingly limitless new ideas, we thanked him for his time and hospitality, and set the sat-nav for Burghead. With the fine weather I wanted to see if the harbour had retained its appeal for the various sea ducks I'd seen there last year.
It didn't disappoint. On arrival we could see a few long-tailed ducks plus a pair of red-breasted mergansers, and after only a short while, they were joined by eiders, impersonating Frankie Howerd, as usual!