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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bonny Scotland

Scottish flag waving over the ruins of Urqhart Castle on Loch Ness
I long thought my first trip to the United Kingdom would be London, but nope. Am currently tooling about Scotland with my occasional travel buddy, Ila. We started our spring vacation by flying into Glascow. There we picked up our super powered diesel rental car, and drove north on the west coast to Fort Williams. Sounds easy but remember, in the UK they drive the narrow roads on the left side. YIKES! We are booked for 3 days at The Brevins Guest House, a cute B&B. From here we will tour the area.

Coal Tit
No surprise, I am birding at every opportunity, starting by birding out our B&B room window. Today I looked down on a new bird species for me, Coal Tits. The minuscule birds darted about under the fencing beneath the window. For pictures I used my ensy light weight Nikon Coolpix A900 which avoids my carrying around my humongous SLR camera. So far the new camera does pretty good considering who is wielding it.

We started today out at the Glencoe Visitor Centre.

The Boardwalk where I spent most of my time birding while at the Glencoe Visitor Centre

A slate blue capped, male Common Chaffinch. The little beauties, new to me, sent me reeling.

There were other species present, such as these Great Titmouses. They gave me a run for the money in trying to capture them with my camera.

When I bothered to look up and take note of the rest of my surroundings at the Centre, I saw woods and grand Scottish hillsides under a moody sky.

On the day we arrive in Scotland, we drove past a spot we decided we had to visit - a Scottish Episcopalian church and graveyard.

It is interesting to visit such old graveyards, where the graves of those who died a century or more ago, and those who 'went home' only recently share the grounds.
The dearly departed all enjoy a view of the loch across the way
I love that visible, calligraphy etched onto the face of the oldest headstones. 
Even after a hundred years, the lichens and moss hasn't erased the lines
Psalm Singers on duty at grave yard, 24/7
We'd been told by everyone at the B&B that a visit to Glenfinnan Monument was a must see. Ila went off to visit the Monument to bonnie Prince Charles, while I skulled about the parking lot to chase a Pied Wagtails. The silly birds would not hold still and soon I was on the far side of the lot. Again - when I looked up and took note of my surroundings I was gobsmacked!  Could it be...? YES! There before my eyes was the bridge - the Glenfinnan Viaduct - made famous by the Harry Potter movies. Be still my Ravenclaw heart!

My first view of the famous Viaduct
The Glenfinnan Viaduct as seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
I'd hoped against hope I might see any of the famous Harry Potter settings used for the Potter movies, but here was one of them and I'd not even broken a sweat to see it! After I gawked at it a long while, I headed past the monument visitor center toward to catch up with Ila.

The Glencoe Monument honours the Jacobites that fought for Prince Charles Edward Stewart
Bonnie Prince Charles watching over the wee bairns that climbed his tower
I'd tell you what the plaque at the base of the monument says, but I don't speak Scottish Gaelic.

I was pleased to make the acquaintance of this wee  Patterdale Terrier at the base of the monument. I'd never seen this working type of terrier before, as they are sparse outside of the U.K.

I caught up with Ila near the monument, on the shore of Loch Shiel
This too is a Harry Potter site. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hagrid bonged stones into the loch as the golden trio watched.

Loch Shiel as it appeared in the Prisoner of Azkaban
Oh, I wish it'd occurred to me to take a page from Hagrid's book & lob a few stones into the loch - damn my lady-like behavior. No bother, I was too busy chasing down the little White Wagtail I think had flown over from the parking lot - you know - to make amends for ditching me in the parking lot.

White or 'Pied' Wagtail
Seems like we did a lot by noon, but our day hadn't even begun yet. I'll get back to you on it.

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