Sunday, June 19, 2016

Highland Wildlife Park and Culloden Field

Today I drove to the Highland Wildlife Park, about fifty minutes from Inverness. It has a drive around section and a walk around section; I did the drive first and then the walk.

Pictures from the drive. Some you can't actually see any animals in; that's either because I was just taking random shots of the scenery, or because they're well-disguised.

I'm not sure whether there's anything in this picture, to be honest.

There's some kind of deer behind the branches.

This, however, is undoubtedly a polar bear.

The walking part was...well, to be honest, a bit disappointing. That's partly because of the nature of wildlife reserves; they aren't set up with the focus being on putting the animals where people can see them. If they aren't feeling like moving around then there isn't anything you can do. It's made even worse by the fact that so many of the animals they have are either nocturnal or crepuscular – i.e. only active and dawn and dusk – and in summer you're only able to visit between 10am and 5pm when sunrise is around 6am and sunset around 10pm. So there were a few animals I've had liked to see that I just couldn't – the snowy owl, the beaver and the snow leopard just weren't visible.

And of course there's when things get changed around. The main reason I'd wanted to come here was because when I looked the place up online they had amongst their animals the Pallas's Cat, or manul – one of my favourite creatures. They look like this:

So, given there were a few other things I wanted to do in the highlands (okay, mostly just drive around while looking at the scenery), I made sure to include enough time to get along to the reserve so I could see one of these fascinating creatures in real life.

You can imagine my disappointment when I checked over the website the night before and found that, while they still have some, they aren't on display to the public. Evidently, since I first looked and made my plans, they'd taken them off the list. I can't really be angry at them for this, because I'm sure they have their reasons, but it was a huge disappointment – not the least because, had I known, I'd have made the time while in London to go down to Kent, since there's a park down there that has them. Or, at least, last time I checked they did them.

As I said: a bit disappointing. Not entirely a waste of time, though – as you'll see from the pictures. In retrospect, though, I wish I'd skipped this and used the time to go see some interesting scenery, like the Isle of Skye. But here's what I did see.

A wolverine.

Finally, a decent shot of a bee. I can't say for sure if it was an official Wildlife Park bee, but I don't care.

A Eurasian crane.

A Eurasian Eagle Owl.

A thing with curvy horns.

A northern lynx.

No, not a domestic cat they'd stuck in a cage - though you'd be forgiven for thinking that. It's a Scottish wildcat.

More wolverine. They're quite adorable,

Arctic Fox in summer coat. Tail is still white, though.

Amur tiger.


Another polar bear.


European grey wolf.

Red squirrel.

Wolf again.


There's a great grey owl in there somewhere.

Definitely one in the box.

And that was that. Next up was the museum at Culloden, the site of a famous battle between (mostly) Scottish and (mostly) English soldiers in 1746. In the museum there are displays of bits of pieces the archaelogists have dug out of the site, plus a breakdown of the events that took place. It's quite interesting.

Pics are all of the battlefield.

Gorse. It's everywhere in Scotland.

Happened across a slug. Never seen a jet black one before.

I saw a few of these around and wondered what they might be - then it occurred to me: they're molehills.

Had dinner at a nearby pub. Which of course meant I had a beer as well. This was a rather nice dark ale.

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