Daily News – by the Grant Arms Hotel
11th December 2018
We’re absolutely delighted to learn that this season’s BBC Winterwatch will be coming from Strathspey in the New Year, based literally on our doorstep in the village of Nethybridge. Springwatch and Autumnwatch will also be from the same location in 2019 so be sure to tune in to see some spectacular wildlife!
One animal sure to feature on their itinerary will be the wonderful Mountain Hare, now fully in their white camouflage and loved by just about every wildlife photographer visiting the area. They can be photographed at numerous locations with care, and good fieldcraft always essential to avoid flushing them unnecessarily and exposing them to predators. You may wish to hire the services of one of the many guides available who are familiar with the ground and where the hares can best be approached from, details can be obtained from the Grant Arms Hotel.
10th December 2018
Chanonry Point is the best land-based watching site in Europe for Bottlenose Dolphins, and with around 190 living in the north-east of Scotland, hopefully you will get to see a few of them. A rising tide is the best time to see them as they wait for the tide to bring the fish through the narrow channel. You should also keep a look out for Common & Grey Seals, Harbour Porpoise, Gannets, seaduck and various gulls and waders too.
Cromarty is a pretty old fishing village on the north east corner of the Black Isle. With some lovely independent shops and tearooms, as well as plenty of walks to do, it is worth a visit, if you are spending the day on the Black Isle. Ecoventures boat trips also run from here, looking for local wildlife including Bottlenose Dolphins and seabirds. Even if you don’t see any wildlife, the guides have a great local knowledge and the ride in the RIB is great fun!
9th December 2018
A trip to the Moray Firth Coast is a must do! Whatever time of year you visit, there is something to see. Burghead is built on a peninsular so has a good view of the sea which is where you want to be looking for species such as Eider (as well as a visiting make King Eider!), scoter, divers, grebes, Long-tailed duck, Gannets and Dolphins. At low tide the exposed mud flats provide feeding grounds for various waders.
Burghead stands on what is now considered to be the oldest Pictish Fort in Scotland. Although much of the fort was destroyed during the building of the town, during the excavations six carved stone slabs (known as the Burghead Bulls ) were discovered. Two remain in the Burghead Visitor Centre and two in Elgin Museum , with one each in the Royal Museum in Edinburgh and the British Museum in London.
29th November 2018
Lying between the Cromdale and the Ladder Hills is the 58,000 acre Glenlivet Estate. Glenlivet is a great site for wildlife with a range of birds, mammals, plant and insect life thriving on its moorlands, floodplains and hills. There are various ways to explore the estate: on foot, by car or on a highly recommended safari with a companycalled “Glenlivet Wildlife“. For those who like walking, why not try one of the 11 way-marked trails on the estate, all of which can be accessed from designated parking points.
28th November 2018
If you fancy a day out close to the Grant Arms Hotel then why not venture into Grantown’s beautiful Anagach Woods? With various lengths of trails to explore you can walk as far as you wish. Anagach Woods was planted in 1766 by the Good Sir James, a local laird who was instrumental in making Grantown what it is today. this Scots Pine woodland covers almost 1000 acres, but with three well waymarked routes (red, blue and green), is easy to navigate. It is home to Capercaillie, Crested Tit, Scottish Crossbill and a whole host of other bird life. Keep a look out for Red Squirrel and Roe Deer too!
26th November 2018
Nairn is a small town on the Moray Firth coast and has a variety of habitats to explore. The harbour can offer a variety of waders and if you continue walking east you will come to Nairn East Beach, with the chance of seeing seaduck and waders – you should also look out for Bottlenose Dolphins and seals.
If you enjoy your history then a trip to Fort George – an active army base with great views over the Moray Firth towards Chanonry Point – may be interesting. Look out for Dolphins from the Fort. Culloden Battlefield is also well worth a a visit. Audio Tours are available at both sites – check online for full details of opening times and admission costs.
25th November 2018
One of the most important National Nature Reserves in Britain, Abernethy, has everything to offer the patient wildlife watcher. Early morning visits have produced Otter and Pine Marten sightings. The elusive Capercaillie lives amongst the forest, alongside crossbills and Crested Tit. Apart from all of these delights, the reserve is also a haven for Red Squirrel, Roe Deer, and a whole host of woodland birds such a Treecreeper, Siskin and Great Spotted Woodpecker. The RSPB Osprey Centre is now shut for the season, but a visit to the feeders outside the centre (from the car park go through the gate with the Osprey on it and follow the path towards the Centre itself – the feeders will be on your left) can be rewarding at this time of year, with Crested Tits coming to feed on peanuts as there are fewer insects around as well as all the other forest birds and Red Squirrels.
2018 BWWC Photography Competition
The 2018 BWWC Photography Competition is open to all Grant Arms Hotel guests. Photos must have been taken by Grant Arms Hotel guests during a stay with us between 1st January 2018 and 31st December 2018. Send your photographs to Sue Williams, BWWC Program Organiser by 5th January 2019 either via email in jpeg format to email@example.com or posted using CD/DVD (jpeg format preferred) to: Grant Arms Hotel, c/o Sue Williams, 25 – 27 The Square, Grantown on Spey, PH26 3HF. Photographs must be titled with the Name of the Species/Location and Date taken and Not watermarked. There is no limit to the number of photographs you can enter and you are welcome to enter photographs into one or more of our four categories:
- Best Landscape Photograph
- Best Wildlife Photograph
- Best Bird Photograph
- Best Insect/Plant Photograph
If you’re chosen as the Overall Winner you’ll win a 4 NIGHT STAY for 2 here at the Grant Arms Hotel. If you’re one of the three lucky Runners Up, you’ll win a £150 voucher towards a future stay here. Full details and terms and conditions can be found on our website www.bwwc.co.uk. Happy Snapping!
21st November 2018
Glenmore Forest Park sits at the foot of Cairngorm Mountain, the visitor centre is an ideal place to start your visit to find out more about this wonderful forest, choose from a range of trails to find some of area’s speciality species and then relax in the popular Café. You can go on a quest to a magical lochan, or stretch your legs to get to one of the best views on Speyside. There are more trails, including all-ability access routes, just across the road at Loch Morlich beach, where you can enjoy wonderful panoramic views of the Cairngorm massif. Glenmore Visitor Centre is open every day 9 am – 4.30 pm
19th November 2018
If you love nature and nature books, then don’t forget our Wildlife Book Festival running from Monday 15th April to Friday 19th April 2019. Our host is Stephen Moss, Stephen is the original producer of the BAFTA award-winning TV series Springwatch, some of his other TV credits include Big Cat Diary, Bird Britannia and Birding with Bill Oddie. He is the author of many best-selling books on birds and British Wildlife, writes a monthly Birdwatch column for the Guardian and is the President of Somerset Wildlife Trust. The authors lined up so far include David Lindo (The Urban Birder), Polly Pullar, Charlie Phillips, David Hetherington, Jack Perks, Isla Hodgson, Dr Michael Brooke, Pete Cairns and Dr Pat Morris.
What a great line up with more to come. As well as the talks by these amazing and knowledgable nature enthusiasts on their books, we will be running walks and trips in the morning with our local wildlife guides and some of our speakers. These walks and trips will be free to our book festival guests. You can stay for as long or as little as you like over the week. If you want to extend your stay, we will also be putting on extra walks and field trips over the Easter Weekend too, which is part of our Spring/Grouse themed week. For more information on our Wildlife Book Festival please contact our Reception Team on 01479 872526
14th November 2018
Golden Eagles are often seen on the Moors within a short driving distance of Grantown on Spey, keep an eye out around Lochindorb especially. There has also been a Great Grey Shrike sighted in that area which will probably be an overwintering bird, seen several times last year.
Unfortunately, if you are thinking of heading for the mountains, the funicular railway at Cairngorm is having some serious issues and is currently out of service. It is not yet known when it will be back up and running but they aim to get it back on track by beginning of December. However, the car park area is still worth a visit for Snow Buntings and it is possible to still see Ptarmigan from here by scoping the slopes.
13th November 2018
On the coast this is the main arrival time for large flocks of Long-tailed Ducks and Scoter, the cost between Findhorn and Burghead is particularly good for these species. There have also been regular sightings of the Kind Eider around Burghead which was showing very well in stormy conditions sheltering in the harbour mouth.
In winter White-tailed Eagles move down in to the river valleys and spend a lot of time around the farmland of Strathspey, last year birds were seen regularly hunting around the Nethybridge farmland just a few miles from Grantown on Spey. They are also sighted regularly at Insh Marshes which is also a good spot for seeing Hen Harriers, especially in late afternoon when they come in to roost in the area.
11th November 2018
October has been a very busy month for the Grant Arms Hotel. We started off with two special weeks running concurrently. From Sunday 7th we welcomed back Nigel Marven for his second Celebrity Guided Holiday with us. A group of 12 guests were kept entertained by his jokes as well as some great wildlife. The weather was mixed, but they managed to avoid the occasional showers. Nigel Marven will return for another Celebrity Guided Holiday on 13th October 2019.
For those guests not lucky enough to be out with Nigel, we ran an Autumn/Red Deer Theme to the week and put on extra walks and trips with one of our local wildlife guides, Simon Pawsey. We also had some talks during the week, including two from Mike Read. Mike is one of our regular guest speakers, a photographer and tour guide. Mike’s first talk was on his home patch of Hampshire where he visited a different reserve each month of the year in 2016 and the second was about his travels with his camera during 2017 including places such as Portugal, Hungary and Scotland. Nigel Marven also gave a very entertaining talk this week on his personal top ten UK Wildlife wonders and why they feature there for him.
As the Nigel Marven and Autumn week came to an end, another two groups of guests arrived. The first group were part of the BBC Wildlife Magazine Readers Holiday. Led by two of our wildlife guides the groups also had great weather for the week and amazing wildlife as the winter migrants continued to flock into the area. Also this week, another of our regular guest speakers Steve Lovell was here. Steve is a wildlife landscape gardener and lecturer and has travelled extensively all over the world. After these groups left the Birdwatching Magazine Readers Holiday guests arrived. A large and more informal type of holiday where the guests follow the guides from the magazine to various locations at the own pace and time – or – as some did, do their own thing. Again, they were lucky with the weather, a bit windy at times and the odd shower (for those who went to the West Coast), but mainly dry and bright.
During the last week in October we welcomed back Mike Dilger for his second Celebrity Guided Holiday this year. Another group of guests that will be hoping for the weather and success that the earlier groups this month have had.
Some of the great Wildlife Sightings in October: Thousands of Redwings and Fieldfares, hundreds of Gannets, Arctic Skuas, Baird’s Sandpiper, Purple Sandpipers, Pink-feet, Greylags and Whooper Swans. Red Deer, large flocks of Scaup and Scoter including Velvet Scoter. Golden and White-tailed Eagles, Crested Tits, Black and Bar-tailed Godwits and so much more. Mike Dilger will return to the Grant Arms Hotel for another Celebrity Guided Holiday on 24th March 2019. There are still places available.
10th November 2018
Spectacular numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares are currently moving through the Strath stripping the berry trees and will likely stay well into November until the supply runs out. It’s always worth checking any Thrush flocks you find for the possibility of one of the rarer species such as Black-throated, White’s or Dusky Thrush, you never know your luck. We’ve also been hearing of the first Waxwing sightings so fingers crossed there are more of these colourful winter visitors to arrive.