Monday 25 September 2017

Loch Ness Trip Report September 2017

The rain had fallen in abundance, thus ensuring a field of mud at the campsite. I was here a month later than usual, so it was a bit colder, a bit wetter and daylight hours were less. Nevertheless, a walk afterwards along the beach at Foyers presented one with a loch after the storm as the waters almost perfectly reflected the hills and skies above. The proverbial mill pond as someone once said 84 years before at the same location. The only initial oddity was the patches of foam which had swept into the loch from the nearby River Foyers (below).

However, it was something I saw that disturbed the calm on this first evening that grabbed my attention. As I scanned the waters, my eyes fell upon a disturbance of water to my right about half way across the loch. It was a splash of water perhaps three feet high which fell back to whence it came from but that was that.

What had caused it was not apparent to the eye as nothing apart from water was visible. If an object had broken the surface and then submerged again, I was none the wiser as to whether this had happened at all because my eyes had seen it too late.

I would say that the whole area was a continuous sequence of concentric ripples appearing all over the surface which indicated the presence of fish taking insects from the surface. Did one of these larger fish breach the surface but disappear below the surface before I could see it? Perhaps, perhaps not, but I will have to call this one inconclusive.


As threatened in a previous post, I undertook the task of trying to identify the location of the George Spicer land sighting. There were only three parameters available in determining any answer, but there is enough in that sub plot to merit an article in its own right.

Friday night saw my usual dawn run between Foyers and Dores as I continue to gather data on deer runs and any other information that may be gleaned from this two way excursion. However, I think late September is not as good as late August for such a run. Since sunrise was at about 7am, I headed off about 6am but this was not a great choice as traffic was already present on the road as I passed by three cars and I prefer a zero car run for the dashcam.

The problem is that if I set off earlier to avoid cars, it will be too dark for the dashcam to record anything. So, another argument for visiting the loch in August (despite the huge number of tourists). As it turned out, I did not see a single deer crossing the road in front of me during the 23 mile round trip, just one rabbit. That said, the "huddle of deer" Spicer theory continues to be a busted flush.

One thing that does not require my presence is trap or game cameras. I have spoken on these instruments in the past and they have been part of my research portfolio for five years and counting. I left one over the past four months and returned to it on Saturday and, yes, it was still there untouched by dishonest hands.

I know that because it didn't snap anyone in front of it! It is a higher risk leaving such a device over the bustling summer months as one cannot discount the more energetic visitors clambering around the shore and finding it. However, when I went to retrieve it, I nearly gave up myself trying to get near it, only to be stopped by thick vegetation which had sprung up in the intervening months.

Well, I suppose that is a good thing. I opened the camera casing and removed the SD memory card. There was no point in unstrapping the whole thing since it was my intention for the camera to continue being a sentinel over the autumn and winter months. I would return later with fresh batteries and an erased SD card.

This particular game camera was set to record one single image and a 10 second video clip. That resulted in about 300+ of each being stored on the card. Video clips obviously take up a lot more memory than single images, so the trick is to make sure the camera runs out of battery power before it runs out of memory space!

The camera did its job perfectly. Anything moving within sixty feet of it triggered the still image snap and the short video clip; be it boat, animal, tree or water. The trouble was no Loch Ness Monster ventured in front of the sensor which was no surprise considering the odds of it swimming past the sixty foot radial cone of the camera is very small indeed.

However, the odds shorten the longer the cameras are trained on the loch and so we wait ... and wait. But that is the best way as snapping blobby looking objects half a mile away is not going to cut it with the sceptics. However, something within sixty feet of an HD camera is a different matter.

One picture that repeated often on the still/video image was a set of bow waves but no boat. It was if the object was travelling so fast, the camera failed to trigger in time to snap it. When I went to visit Steve Feltham, we speculated whether it was Langmuir circulations which are characterised by streaky lines upon the surface of the loch.

As it turned out, the mystery was solved when I was back in the area and I heard an approaching roar. It was the fast moving RIB boat from the Cruise Loch Ness company and it was clearly the culprit which could not be captured on SD card. I just hope Nessie doesn't move that fast or these cameras will never get anything!


People are always posting pictures of Nessie simulacra and why should this blog be any different? I saw this "Nessie" on land looking out across the loch. Like practically all pieces of tree in and about the loch, it was fooling nobody.

If you have been to the village of Dores, you may have noticed the sculpture below commissioned by the owner of the Dores Inn which looks out over the bay. A nice piece of artwork, though very much in the plesiosaur tradition I suspect.

The aforementioned Steve Feltham was sitting outside his immobile mobile home enjoying the sun and crafting his latest Nessie model. He had nothing to report of interest, although he did know about the sighting in Dores Bay recently reported by Gary Campbell. We compared notes as the tourists and locals enjoyed the beach and took in the Dores Community Fair stands nearby.


The rain returned on the morning of our final day, which is always a bit of a pain as the tent has to be dried out later back home. But by coincidence, it was also the day of the annual Baxters Loch Ness Marathon.  So, I suspended the usual decamping chores and walked up the hill from Lower Foyers to Upper Foyers to take in the event.

I was standing at the 7 mile marker and after 35 minutes the first runner went past, meaning he was clocking a five minute mile on average. The chap in second place was about 30 meters behind him and I am sure one of them was the winner as the next group turned up five minutes later! I reckon those two were a mile ahead of the other with less than a third of the marathon completed.

Of course, the question is what do these guys do when the monster breaks the surface of the loch as they run past? Do they stop to gaze upon this wonder and potentially lose the race or press on regardless? I know what I would do!

I hope to be back at the loch in April 2018.

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