Wednesday, 21 August – Portmahomack, Tarbet Discovery Center, RSPB Nigg Bay, Nigg-Cromarty Ferry, RSPB Udale Bay, Inverness

Across the street from the Granite House, some sparrows were making a feast on some decorative grasses first thing in the morning:

On the way to Portmahomack, we stopped by the Tarbat Discovery Centre. Next to the car park there is a World War II Dummy Concrete Practice Torpedo:

And a baptismal well, said to have curative powers:

The Discovery Centre is located in an old church building, the Church of Saint Colman, which had been built on a site that is also Pictish, Norse, and medieval sites:

In front of the centre is a statue of a Pictish Queen:

Inside the church is a Pictish stone, probably taken from the remains of the monastery when the current church was built on the location:

Inside is a small gift shop, and wonderful displays covering the history of Tarbat from ancient times to today:

We took a break from history to stop by RSPB Nigg Bay. Although it is a wonderful site, there were few birds to be seen. We could hear little birds in the reeds and bushes, but they would not consent to be photographed. We did see a nice variety of wildflowers and insects:

The next adventure was taking the ferry from Nigg to Cromarty. This was easily the smallest ferry we used in the UK. According to the crew, they can load three cars onto the ferry, but I suspect they all have to be very small cars:

We had intended to visit Hugh Miller’s Cottage in Cromarty, but it turned out that it is closed to visitors on Wednesday. Hugh Miller is noted for his fossils and support of a version of evolution. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Miller)

We had lunch in Cromarty and moved on RSPB Udale Bay where we found a huge selection of birds along the shores of the bay. I still can’t believe we crossed the Atlantic to find hundreds of Canada geese on the eastern side of Scotland!

Canada geese with oyster catchers behind them:

Grey heron:

Greylag Goose, Canada geese, Red shanks:

Ruddy sheldrake in the middle of a group of red shanks with Canada geese in front:

Red shanks take off:

Ruddy sheldrakes are not suppose to be in the British Isles – they usually live in Asia and winter in India (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruddy_shelduck#Distribution_and_habitat):

We drove on to Inverness and arrived at the Avalon House B&B. They recommended the Oakwood Restaurant for dinner, which had such excellent food we went back another evening.

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