Last Thursday I seen some stunning images of the long staying Cairngorms Snowy Owl, I couldn't resist having a look at the weather forecast, by Friday evening Heather and I were heading North.
The mist never left us. We arrived at Loch Morlich at about 23:30, pulling up into one of the lake side car parks, we pitched the tent in the light of the car beams, accompanied by a Daubenton's, hunting in the beams, it gave us some stunning views, whirring its wings and clicking as it went.
We started our climb in the mist, the calls of Red Grouse haunting the hidden landscape. This was my first venture into these glens, the terrain was completely new. The mist aided the idea of mystery and discovery, as we climbed, areas cleared briefly and then were shrouded again, only offering fragments of the landscape at a time, unwilling to reveal its full face. The most impressive of these fragments was the steep back corrie wall of the Cairn Lochan, complete with a few patches of snow.
The weather gradually cleared as we continued further into the hills, showing bits of blue sky here and there, it turned out really nice by the time we got to our home for the night, on the edge of Lochan Buidhe. Passing a few birders on the way up, we had a better idea of exactly where the Snowy Owl was haunting, so after pitching our tent, watching the comings and goings of the many walkers and few birders on the hunt, we headed up onto a small boulder covered hill. A quick scan and there it was, a large white object in a landscape of browns and greys.
Moving down hill we stumbled upon a Mountain Hare, sporting its finest Summer threads. Leaving my bag behind we moved closer in fine sunny weather, we must of only moved 100 metres when the clouds came in, everything was lost to the mist. The Owl was perfectly suited to this harsh landscape, briefly ghosting out of view, before appearing on a nearby ridge. What a beautiful bird.
We managed to pick up a few feathers for our collections, and Heather collected a couple of the birds pellets !
The mist never left us, it only gave a brief window as the sunset. Ptarmigan called in the background, building upon that eerie feeling the mist creates, and a number of Pink-Footed Geese picked their way through the glens.
The sun returned as we headed back to the car, allowing us a few Ptarmigan sightings before we met the lower hills.