365 Nature – Day 209

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.


There were more moths at the porch light in the morning including another Garden Tiger and one that I think may a Scarce Silver Y.

We decided on a day trip and headed north to Spey Bay on the Moray Firth. Our destination was the Scotland Dolphin Centre where we hoped to see some marine animals. We arrived and first visited the building containing a shop and small display of animal skulls and other artifacts. Then we headed to the beach to walk around and see what we could find.

The beach is along the mouth of the River Spey and it’s the largest shingle beach in Scotland. The landscape is dramatic, the large rocks of the beach were colorful and nearly every one was a work of art itself. Over the gray water, dark clouds loomed. Putting the bright beach in front of the dark clouds and gray water created a stunningly beautiful landscape.

Not many birds were obvious at first, it took a while before I spotted a few terns and then an Osprey hunting. An eruption of birds down the beach, towards the mouth of the river caught my attention and we walked towards it. Dozens of gulls were flying around the mouth and Arctic Terns as well. As we got closer I could see Mute Swans in the river and a large flock of Goosanders just off the beach. I made my way to a point and could see terns sitting along the beach on both sides of the river. A small, temporary island held a couple dozen gulls.

I figured with all the bird activity in the mouth of the river and the tide starting to return, that must be the ideal place to spot dolphins. We watched for a long time and saw one seal and several fish jumping, but no dolphins. It was a worthy effort, we spent over two hours on the beach looking. Every once in a while the terns would take flight, a hundred strong, circling around the mouth before landing again.

The landscape continually changed as the dark clouds parted and the sun filtered through casting light on small areas. I spent a long time standing and watching the changing landscape and the birds in flight.

Many shorebirds flew along the shore and we spotted Dunlin, Turnstones and Common Ringed Plovers.

After lunch we walked along the river and through a meadow and field before returning. In the meadow we spotted a Yellowhammer, Goldfinches, House Sparrows, a Starling and Small Tortoiseshell butterfly. Along the river were Shelducks, Mute Swans and a lot of gulls.

Back at the cottage in the evening, I spotted another deer in the field and this time it was much closer. I could see its head was barely above the grasses and having seen sheep in the same area I knew it was a very small deer. That made it easy to identify as a Roe Deer, a small deer standing no taller than about two feet at the shoulder.

Kelly Brenner
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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She founded The Metropolitan Field Guide in 2009 and has contributed articles to aincluding Crosscut, ParentMap and National Wildlife Magazine. She holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.

She is currently writing a book about urban nature to be published by Mountaineers Books in 2019.
Kelly Brenner
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  1. How totally frustrating for you, Kelly! By the way the moth photo from day 207 is just beautiful. I am staring at it now. I’ll look forward to your round up when you come into wifi contact again!

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