Mount Keen is the most easterly of the Munros in Scotland. It is also the closest to where I live. However, it is getting on for three years since I was up there last. From the Glen Tanar side there is a longish walk in to the bottom of Mount Keen. This is split half and half initially through the woods and then open valley. The wildlife here is wide and varied. There is a path closed at the moment so as not to disturb a male capercaillie who is in that area whilst looking for a mate.
Unfortunately, I didn't get to see or hear the capercaillie but I was still in for a treat.
Once out of the woodland lots of stonechat feeding their young darted around the heather and shrubs. Walking past the house at Etnach a cuckoo was calling. Soon to be on its way south I'm sure.
Continuing up the path some movement caught my eye on the opposite bank in the distance. As I got closer I realised it was an otter. Getting nearer still revealed it wasn't just one otter but a family group, I assume of the mother and her two cubs.
A truly magic moment!
I sat and watched the family play and splash around in the river and under the bank for a good ten minutes before they eventually swam away downstream disappearing out of sight between the boulders with a flick of the tail. I was surprised to see these otters so far up the glen. This was confirmed to me by the ranger when I got back to the car park and found in the visitor centre there. It was the first time that he had heard of otters at that location as there wasn't much chance of there being any fish there for them to feed on. Maybe they were just out exploring the glen with the mother showing her young the territory?
With the otters gone the hike resumed. Still recalling the previous ten minutes of magic I can't really remember the journey up to the top of Mount Keen. I was soon to be brought back to earth as a squall of sleet passed through just as I got to the summit. So much for it being the 1st of July. However, it wasn't long before the shower passed through and I was treated to a clear view over the Dee valley and Lochnagar. Four seasons in one day and all that.......
Another memorable day courtesy of the Cairngorms.