Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Loch Ness Trip Report - August 2014




I must admit that this excursion to Loch Ness proved a bit of a wash out. As it turned out, the remnants of Hurricane Bertha was about to greet me as I made my way up the high road. Going by the lashings of rain that came upon us, I was grateful that we rarely experience such storms in their full vigour. So, it was a period of almost continuous rain, but the old tent held up well as we camped over the weekend of the 9th August at Foyers.

Given the weather, some of my activities were curtailed and I also failed to get in touch with some people I intended to talk to. However, some people I did talk to, such as Ala MacGruer who is a long time resident of Foyers and knows the area like the back of his hand. He is a keen fisherman and is old enough to remember Frank Searle. In fact, he featured in the 2005 documentary, "The Man Who Captured Nessie", in which he reminisced as a local on Frank's time there.

Ala was an independent witness to a head neck sighting made by the Hargreaves in 2011. He was sticking with that story and I have no reason to doubt him.  As an experienced and down to earth observer of Loch Ness, he has one of the better tales to tell of strange sights at Loch Ness.

I also chatted with him about other things, such as the memories of his neighbour, Hugh Gray, who took the first photo of the monster. Ala was also the nephew of William MacGruer, whose experience of a strange animal lurching into Loch Ness around the time of World War I has long formed part of the Loch Ness story.

Apart from the usual surface watches for anything unusual breaking the surface, I also tried out some new trap cameras. However, the aim of these was not to capture the monster in the water, but on the land. So, in  a sense, they are pointing in the "wrong" direction. But my reasoning is that the creature is more likely to trigger the camera on land since the motion/heat detection area is much smaller (i.e. the creature is not 300 metres away in the water). Also, you'll get a far more interesting and decisive picture than a hump in the water.

The problems dictating against an installation are manifold. Firstly, car traffic will continuously trigger the camera and wear out the batteries over a multi-month period. The trick here is to set the camera to night mode (between 0000 and 0700) since it is highly unlikely that the monster will venture onto land during daylight hours. I know it did in the past, but the loud presence of fast moving cars is now a deterrent. 

Also, the camera has to be in a hidden spot so it is not easily spotted by parked cars or hikers. So I will run those for a few months but the rarity of land sightings dictates against immediate results. One trap camera experiment that did not go as well as I thought was the Covert Code Black Special Ops camera (or the UM565).



Now this is an expensive camera and offers leading edge new features such as sending MMS pictures over the 2G/3G mobile phone network to your phone or email account. It also has a remote control command set using SMS text messaging so that you can request immediate snapshots or reconfigure your settings.

All in all, a great set of features, but no good for my research. I have to first say that it was a bit of a pain to set up for mobile networking. I bought a rolling monthly SIM contract from Vodafone and eventually got it sending pictures to my gmail account and mobile phone. I set it up and left it for a few months.

So, I was regularly getting pictures from the camera as events such as birds and waves triggered the detection software in the camera. I must admit I felt a sense of satisfaction being able to conduct monster hunting from wherever I was located in Edinburgh. Also, the occasional SMS message would automatically send me a view of the loch at that time.

However, the problem began when the camera began to send multiple images from sun glare. This was not an issue in and of itself but it became clear that the act of sending an image across the network was a bigger drain on battery power than simply saving the image to a file on the SD card. Within six weeks, the camera shut down! This was despite running on twelve AA batteries.

I retrieved the camera and took it back home. On further thought, I realised this was not going to improve in the autumn and winter months as sun glare would be replaced by continual shots of heightened wave activity. So I will sell the camera and replace it with two or three simpler SD card cameras. We live and learn.

Meantime, the other usual experiments continued. Infrared recordings of the loch at night, the car dashcam recordings and beach searches. There is nothing to report there on the monster front (though I am still reviewing the night videos). Even though technology has improved and cheapened immensely, the monster hunter of today has the same problem as the monster hunter of old - a creature that rarely breaks the surface is not beholden to any such technology.

However, Loch Ness continues to bring up other interesting images. Firstly, one wonders how tourists manage to forget things so easily?



Walking along one of the beaches on the south side of Loch Ness, we came across this bivouac pictured below. We wondered if someone was down on their luck or was at the loch without a tent. The owner was nowhere to be seen and there was no sign of food  - just an empty bottle of whisky.



Beside it was a bottle filled with small stones with a plastic bag below. Presumably this was an improvised rainwater collection system. I left wondering what the purpose of that person's visit was and whether they had any tales to tell of their lonely nights sleeping on the shores of Loch Ness.



But it was not all negatives from the downpour. A visit to the Falls of Foyers presented a raging torrent which I had not witnessed before.



That video clip was taken from the upper viewing area beside the waterfall. However, attempting a shot from the lower area proved impossible as the spray being thrown up threatened to drench us quickly. A quick retreat from that spot was the best tactic. Below is a clip of the nearby River Farigaig in spate also providing an impressive display.



But this particular trip was not all about Loch Ness. On the suggestion of Doug, a blog regular, I took a detour to Loch Morar on the way home. Doug had not long been back from Loch Ness and Morar and felt that this was a loch that has not been as watched as it should be. Indeed, I read that Adrian Shine thought there was a better chance of a large creature in Loch Morar than Loch Ness.




I have to confess that I have never been to Loch Morar in my long time here in Scotland, so it was finally time to remedy that omission. The main purpose of the trip was to install another trap camera as I had to get back home the same day. The loch is quite a contrast to Loch Ness and its tourist noise. At Loch Morar, it was a quiet single track road along the north of the loch with not much in the way of activity at all.

Having installed the camera, I visited the site of the Mhorag sighting I wrote on a while back. The video clip below is a quick survey of the area where the creature allegedly lumbered over a sandbar before disappearing into the loch.




So, as the tourist season winds down for another year and cryptozoological interests are pursued from home, it is hoped those silent trap cameras will snap something that doesn't quite look normal.






45 comments:

  1. Ha, more food for thought when i'm cycling to Foyers; "i wonder where Roland's cameras are?"

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    1. Remember to wave to the camera and I may publish next time!

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  2. Great stuff GB, you are pursuing your passion with vigour!

    This part of your article I wholeheartedly agree with, though perhaps for different reasons to yours:

    the monster hunter of today has the same problem as the monster hunter of old

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  3. We just missed you. We came across a few of those objects as well. Thanks for posting the footage of the falls, thanks to sideways rain we couldn't even get a good picture when we were there. Michael A./Portland

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  4. http://www.csicop.org/si/show/bigfoot_at_50_evaluating_a_half-century_of_bigfoot_evidence

    Before you spend too much time and money on your pursuit of Nessie, take a look at this article. Wow - talk about parallels between Bigfoot and Nessie - it's almost exactly the same story!

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  5. I dont think many spend as much time as you on the subject Geordie Sceptic.

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    1. Maybe not, but you're always here, "Anonymous" ;-)

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    2. Hey,a mans got to make a living.

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    3. Out of interest, how much do I get paid for posting on here, who pays me, and why do they pay me? I'd love to know how this particular conspiracy theory works.

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    4. If anything Geordie Sceptic has convinced me of the existence of trolls. I'm fully open to the existence of other cryptids.

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    5. So Mr Haylock, the definition of a troll is someone who doesn't believe in a lake monster?

      There are millions of us trolls in that case. I like G.S.'s posts here, he and other skeptics keep the debate balanced.

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    6. Hey stephen and anonymous. you sound like that rictard dude who was on here posting stuff about admission tickets to this site. The dude who said skeptos aint allowed in!

      i dont think geordie sceptic is the troll here. Its the people who want him out who are trolling imho.

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    7. I didn't say I wanted GS out. Does he run his own blog? Maybe I can troll him there? I would have more respect for him and others if he took the time to do field investigations himself, rather than just posting links to CISCOP articles (who I think have only ever carried out one scientific investigation in their entire history themselves (I could be wrong there)). Also I said I remain open, didn't say I believed. Or is that still too close to woo woo thinking?

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    8. Hi Dave.

      No I don't run my own blog, but if I did, believers would be most welcome to contribute, provided they weren't trolling. And by trolling I mean comments such as incorrectly labelling other contributors as trolls, or accusing people of being paid to post certain views in the debate.

      You can see for yourself how much these pages benefit from lively debate - we all respond and discuss Roland's interesting posts, and a picture emerges for the reader. Some will like one side of the debate, others will be swayed the other way. This is how topics like the LNM are discussed. It's not trolling, it is debating. Don't be scared of it.

      As for needing to conduct my research - I have read just about everything there is on this subject. If you're seriously saying the LNM can only be discussed by those who have run a sonar curtain down the loch or attached a camera to a tree, then the number of contributors would be tiny. Personally I believe in free speech, and I think it's very reasonable for people to hotly debate the photos and films which are purported to show a LNM. The more we debate the better I say. Again, don't be scared of it Dave.

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    9. Apologies, I meant Stephen, not Dave!

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    10. I agree !! This is a debate and everyone is entitled to their point of view. Be boring other wise!!! Ive always said that joe bloggs has as much chance of getting a photo of nessie as the next guy! And to be fair GS doesnt discrminate peoples clever levels when it comes to discussion @ and fair play to GB aswell as he always puts the skeptics views on here even when they have a bit of a dig at him. I enjoy this blog and long may the debate contunue!!!!

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    11. And I don't feel like Jake is trolling when he has a few jabs at me. It's all good-natured and I believe there is respect in both directions. As for GB, his posts are so interesting this blog attracts believers and sceptics in large numbers.

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    12. The jabs are only in retaliation :))))

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    13. But Geordie,you DO run your own blog,its called Loch Ness Mystery blog.moderated by Roland!;0)

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    14. Thanks Anonymous, I do think people regard this site as mine. I view Roland as an assistant who enables my greatness to shine.

      Roland's posts can be seen as the warm up act, while my responses are the "main event". In fact I imagine Roland will soon start consulting me before he publishes his articles.

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  6. Great pics & videos, GB. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Back from a holiday! Unfortuntly not loch ness lol bit nicer weather though. Great pics GB ive had many a trip like that with the weather but great all the same! I need to get up there Asap!!! Ive always wanted to go to loch morar but can never bring myself to leave the ness long enough when im there ha . One day maybe.......

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  8. Champlain Ogopogo de Sasquatch3 October 2014 at 23:41

    HOW MANY MYTHS COME ABOUT:

    Adults invent scary stories to keep their children safe or to direct their behaviour. The big hairy men in the woods story stops children from wandering into forests. The dangerous derelict old house is called haunted to keep the kids out. Mirrors were once stupidly expensive so it was said that breaking one gave you 7 years bad luck.

    The dangerous deep waters of Scottish lochs and lakes elsewhere. Don't go near those, kids, or a waterhorse or serpent will grab you!

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    1. Can you actually prove any of this? Or is just sceptical "common sense" which we should all just accept?

      Why make up a bigfoot when you have bears an wolves to eat your wayward children?

      Why make up ghosts when you can just warn of old tramps who kidnap children?

      I could go on ...

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    2. What can you prove, Glasgow Boy?

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    3. I don't claim to prove anything. I make my arguments and others can decide. It is the sceptics that think they have it all wrapped up.

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    4. "The dangerous deep waters of Scottish lochs and lakes elsewhere. Don't go near those, kids, or a waterhorse or serpent will grab you!"

      What about the English Lake District? OK, I understand. Cumbrians never had any idea about parenting.and are unfit to be part of Greater Scotland. :)

      *AnonStg*

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    5. Champlain Ogopogo de Sasquatch8 October 2014 at 23:40

      There were English Lake District (and other) fables if you look for them. Also, water horse myths were widespread across Scotland, but there is not even one example of a corpse or fossil record in human history.

      The point is, Ogopogo, Champ, Nessie and Bigfoot are nothing more than leftovers from old mythical tales. Other mythological creatures have long since been forgotten. This will also be the case with Nessie one day. I think we can see we're some way along that curve already.

      Not really such a great point there anonstg.

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    6. You have decided our explanations are inadequate. The trouble is the ones offered by sceptics to explain what people claim to see are, to put it kindly, poor.

      Stalemate.

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    7. People are apparently regularly abducted into alien aircraft throughout the world, especially in the US. Yet never once has this phenomenon been captured on video or CCTV. The human mind is highly creative once a seed of a story has been sown.

      APC

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    8. I refer you to my previous comments about inadequate and unproveable sceptical arguments.

      Stalemate.

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  9. I refer you to previous skeptical comments about inadequate evidence and unprovable eyewitness reports.

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    1. I think that is summed up in my previous word "stalemate".

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  10. All,

    I've been asked to give a presentation later this year in Edinburgh on the sceptical approach to Loch Ness. I am yet to give my response, so I thought I would put it to my many followers on this site. What do people think?

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    1. Skeptics in the Pub?

      I would certainly come along to heckle you! :)

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    2. I think I could convert you into a nessie sceptic, Roland. You're an analytical chap, so I feel you're within our grasp.....

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  11. I've been wondering that if lake monsters could be so easily be the stuff of misidentification and mythology, then why wouldn't pretty much every lake have a 'monster'. Or do they? Whats the ratio of number of larger lakes on the planet that have monster traditions vs those that don't?

    Jon

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    1. The argument that Loch Ness must contain a monster, otherwise the myth would persist in all lakes is really one of the very weakest available to the believers camp. Firstly, water horse myths really did apply to very many Scottish lochs. Secondly, places can take on a certain reputation, such as haunted houses, haunted woods, UFO hot spots, "Bigfoot Country" etc. Once the reputation is created, human response takes over and the myth persists by people interpreting what they see or hear against a backdrop of the place's reputation. In my view this is what is (or at least was) going on at Loch Ness.

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    2. Probably why it is not used much then! Certainly not presented as a major argument here.

      You are of course talking about the "tinkerbelle effect" of sceptics. People want to see a monster, therefore they see a monster. A simplistic and naive theory which has no chance of explaining what has been going on at Loch Ness.

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    3. It absolutely explains what has been going on - numerous (and often very contradictory) reports, not once backed up by adequate photos or films... and of course the entire absence of any corpses.

      The attempts by believers to explain these away have bern nothing short of desperate. Notions of camera-holding witnesses being too mesmerised to take a picture, while at the same time believing Dinsdale, MacNab etc had no such problems. The idea that creatures are frequently near enough to the viewer for them to be able to discount known phenomena, yet at the same time too far away to capture even through a telephoto zoom lens. Huge 30ft animals which die and apparently just dissolve into silt and water instantly. Animals which are sighted in open water but hide at the edges when sonar is present. Animals which can remain underwater apparently for months on end, then make a long swim across the loch perched on top of the water for Dinsdale but never again for any phone or camera owner in the 54 years since. Animals with flippers which can climb up steep wooded slopes and across roads once every 30 years and apparently see and breathe perfectly well on land even though they spend all their time underwater.

      No, I'm afraid that the pro-Nessie explanations read like pure fantasy, and the only logical explanation of what is happening is witness confusion. Unless of course one believes in Nessie the paranormal entity - which I am led to believe was once your preferred explanation, Roland.

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    4. "absolutely" - ah, the dogmatism of the sceptic.

      Some old hoary chestnuts being brought out here in time for roasting, I won't bother replying, it has all been covered in previous comments/articles.

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    5. DNA test the lake waters with the new fragmentary DNA test.that'll shut the skeptic pie holes!

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    6. That has been suggested before and may be worth a try. However, given the vast expanse of Loch Ness, I would be non-commital on what may be found.

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  12. Gosh,fish remain underwater for years. Mr skepticdebunker!!

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