If you stride out you can miss so much wildlife as you walk around Loch Kinord, barely seeing some ducks and the odd glimpse of a damselfly or butterfly. However, if you take a slightly more leisurely pace and pay more attention there is so much to see. Most of these photos were taken on my most recent visit to The Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve. At first I didn't think I was going to see much, other than the many Common Blue Damselflies, but slowly I started to spot a few more animals and the odd bird here and there. Towards the end of our walk around the loch came our rarest encounter of the day, but more of that later...
The first find of the day was a distant Great Spotted Woodpecker. I was pleased to see it, but as we get them in our garden it wasn't too much of a new experience. It was a good distance away and didn't stay around long enough for me to get many decent photos.
After the woodpecker flew off, in almost the next breath, my son spotted this distant Roe Deer. It had clearly spotted us before we saw it. I have seen Roe deer in the the woods around Loch Kinord, far closer than this, although they rarely linger around long enough to pose for a photo.
In the summer months damselflies seem to be everywhere as you walk around Loch Kinord. Usually, these are Common Blue Damselflies (although I did get the following photo of a Large Red damselfly last summer). The area is also a good spot for finding dragonflies, although so far these have eluded me completely.
On my, frankly very occasional, visits I have managed to see three varieties of damselfly around Loch Kinord, the Common Blue damselfly, the Large Red damselfly and the Emerald damselfly.
It is quite easy to see the Common Blue damselflies, and if you spend some time looking at the reeds and tall grasses around the edge of the loch many of them rest (and "socialise") there.
Identifying different types of damselfly can be challenging and I am far from an expert on the subject. In fact I only realised that the above photo was an Emerald damselfly, while I was writing this article. To help with identification I would recommend visiting the British Dragonfly Society at british-dragonflies.org.uk.
The other type of insect that seems to attract photographers is, of course, butterflies. On the day of my recent visit it was a particularly warm and sunny day, so there were plenty of butterflies flying around. However, the photographer has to have a fair bit of persistence to actually capture a reasonable quality photo of a butterfly, as they rarely sit still long enough to allow one to focus on them, let alone get a good portrait. Still, I persist in my efforts...
The Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was fairy active, initially landing on the underside of the bracken, eventually he came around on to the top of the leaf and it allowed me to capture a few shots before he flew off.
We didn't see as many birds as I had hoped, however, I did see this Song Thrush a couple of times, even though it did keep a fair distance from us.
Now, moving on to the highlight of the day. Having followed the Muir of Dinnet Nature Reserve's blog (muirofdinnetnnr.wordpress.com) for some time I was aware that there are Adders there. I had hoped, but without any real expectation, to see one, so as we walked around the northern side of the loch I were extreme pleased to spot this golden brown coloured Adder (this colouration means it's a female, males are more silvery-grey) making it's way through the grass just beside the path.
This was the first time I had encountered one of Britain's only venomous snakes in the wild, and I was surprising unfazed by it. I managed to take quite a few photos without disturbing her as she made her way through the grass. It is not easy photographing a snake as it moves, getting the depth of field right can be tricky and I didn't get any particularly good photos of the whole snake, however, to be honest, I am still extremely pleased to have the photos that I have.
I would highly recommend spending some time at the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve and getting to know the wildlife there. It may be shy in general, but with a bit of patience the rewards are well worth it.