The Coaching Course began at 9am sharp this morning so I packed my rucksack and set off to walk to the Highland Wildlife Park, a place I haven’t visited since we took Becky and Jenny when they were children.
En route to the back road I passed through the woodland below Loch Insh Watersports Centre and heard a buzzard really close. It was sitting up in a tree above me but sadly I couldn’t get a clear photo of it in the darkness of the wood so I contented myself with enjoying watching it fly around the wood. When I emerged on the road by Loch Insh I looked to see if I could spot any activity on the Osprey nest which is a feature annually. I took a photo and enlarged it and, sure enough, there were two large chicks perched on the edge of the nest. It was too far away for a clear photo, but then one of the parents flew in and circled the water in front of the island and landed in the next tree, which was very cool. Just then as I was saying to a couple that we could do with binoculars, a second couple arrived….with binoculars…..and he pointed out that the other parent was also sitting in the tree – and he let us look through his binoculars, fantastic. We came to the conclusion that the chicks were ready to leave the nest and that the parents were doing a bit of encouraging.
I moved on and eventually completed the five miles to the Wildlife Park, which was very busy. As it has been a very hot day, many of the residents had, quite rightly, sought out sheltered spots in their enclosures and were asleep – so different to the old fashioned zoos of my childhood where animals were expected to be on display at all times and suffered for it.
After a cuppa I took a tour around the walking section. The park has changed and enlarged a great deal since our early visits but it is still essentially built in to the landscape so the enclosures are large and natural. The highlight for me was Wolf Wood which is in the process of being extended further. The adults were all dozing close to the viewing platform and we had glimpses of youngsters playing and play fighting further out between the trees, so my blip today had to be the sleepy wolves.
I signed up for the guided tour around the ‘safari’ section of the park which was enjoyable and educational. Just as we were coming back to the gate, the polar bears decided to leave their compound and take a dip in their pond and that was fabulous. They had lots of toys to play with and were obviously happy bears, far removed from the polar bear in its concrete cage I remember seeing many years ago, walking round and round in obvious mental distress.
Then it was time to have some lunch and begin the walk back to Lagganlia. I was going to catch the bus to Kincraig to save the couple of miles of road walking but I thought I had missed it, then as soon as I set off walking it came speeding past me!! When I drew close to Loch Insh I thought I would follow a signpost for Feshiebridge to miss out the big road loop – but that stopped short of an electric fence and deep woodland so I have no idea how that happened and it meant I had to retrace my steps and go the long way round – shall have a closer look at the map tonight!
I treated myself to an ice cream at the Watersports Centre to help me up the hill and then paused to watch a group tubing down the river at Feshiebridge before arriving back at Lagganlia just as the coaches were completing their afternoon session and planning on going for a run.