Day 9 – Lairg to Tongue

Fabulous, freshly emerged Golden-ringed Dragonfly – wildlife event of the day for me

An excellent stage for wildlife! True, the weather was still shite at times – in fact we got soaked at one point – the wind gave little assistance and there were some long and steep drags, but all of this was cancelled out by the scenery and nature along the ride. We left Lairg heading north-west, following the shores of Loch Shin, eventually arriving at the Crask Inn (literally in the middle of nowhere and now run by the Episcopalian Church) for coffee. This had been a memorable early refreshment stop on our End to End route, back in 2012. From there, looking out across the miles of nothing that is Sutherland, I spotted the first of our ‘ticks’ – a summer plumage Golden Plover, quickly followed by another new species – Snipe. A lone Raven flew overhead as we steadily made our way through Altnaharra and on towards our lunch stop. Passing a small loch I saw three birds at the waters edge – clearly divers. Through the binoculars they turned into a family party of Black-throated – Mum, Dad and a youngster! We were sitting at the road bridge at the head of Loch Loyal when I spotted a shape moving in the water. It was a newly emerging dragonfly which just managed to cling on to a rock in the middle of the river. Through the bins I could see it was black and yellow – I had to get a closer view! Off with the socks and shoes and in I went. Fortunately it was still drowsy, so it sat on my hand as I returned to dry land to show Bry. Wide-spread but thinly distributed in western Britain, though absent from East Anglia, this Golden-ringed Dragonfly was a ‘first’ for me! We finished our ride at The Ben Loyal Hotel in Tongue – 40+ miles since departing from Lairg. In the evening I rode down to the causeway looking for waders – mostly Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Curlew, with a lone Dunlin – new for the list. I did also see a nice Wheater – our sixth new bird for the day – bringing our overall trip list to 106.

The NCN 1 sign opposite The Crask Inn
Cold, but boy was it worth it!
This entry was posted in Birding.

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