Highland Wildlife and Birdwatch Safaris, Guided wildlife excursions, Aviemore, Scotland
Highland Wildlife and Birdwatch Safaris, Guided wildlife excursions, Aviemore, Scotland

Friday, August 31, 2018

August 2018 started as summer with plenty of sun and warm temperatures, but  most definitely ended as autumn with some much needed rain and a much cooler and breezier feel to things, with cagoules, hats, gloves, scarves, and sun cream all being needed - sometimes all in the same day!
The days are noticeably shortening now as autumn approaches, but we still have 14-15 hours of usable daylight this far north.
With many of our summer visiting bird species departing this area for their wintering areas throughout the month, it was inevitable that local full-day bird lists would reduce down into the 30's, though this could be increased considerably if you visited the Moray coast.
Mammal day lists varied between 4 and 8 species, with earlier starts generally proving more successful, especially for the shyer species. August is usually our best month for Butterflies and day-flying moths, and a good variety of species were seen on the warmer, sunnier days, though sadly, in lower numbers than I would usually expect.
The Highland scenery is extremely picturesque now, with the heather at it's beautiful purple best, one or two ferns turning coppery gold, a few leaves beginning to 'turn' into their autumn hues, lots of varieties of fungus appearing, and the Rowan trees now fully laden with bright red berries.

A local upland heather moorland at it's beautiful best

To give you an idea of what you may realistically hope to see if you are planning a future August visit, I hope the following more detailed information, illustrated with photos taken at sites in and around the Cairngorms National Park by myself, my friends or my safari clients this month and in previous August's, will help...clicking on the picture enlarges it to full-screen.

Local speciality/upland bird species seen regularly included:
Osprey, Red GrouseDipper, Golden EagleGoldeneye and Goosander, whilst Red-Throated Diver, and Black-Throated Diver were both seen regularly early in the month but sightings became noticeably less frequent after mid-month as they presumably departed for the coast, and we also had a few brief views of Crested Tit  and  Crossbills and just one view of Merlin, Goshawk and  White-Tailed Eagle...sadly, Black Grouse and Capercaillie were not seen at all this month, though that is not unusual at this time of year....

Mammal species seen regularly locally included:
Red Squirrel, Roe Deer, Red Deer, Reindeer, Mountain Goat and Rabbit with just a few sightings of  Sika DeerBrown Hare and Mountain Hare, and a solitary view of a Stoat, and on the 30th.. rather unbelievably, a very rare daylight sighting of a Pine Marten!!



Adult Osprey trying to coax it's final youngster to fledge...
Osprey was most frequently voted as 'bird of the day' by my safari clients this month,  hardly surprising I suppose when you consider that these impressively large and attractively marked raptors can also provide additional "wow" factor when seen plunge-diving or carrying fish!... and with nesting being a little later than usual this year, we were fortunate enough to see the parent birds still here with their now almost fully independent youngsters until the very end of the month...

Female Red Grouse
Red Grouse, still in large family groups, continued to show well on our local heather moorlands, and with their nesting being a little later than usual, and  brood sizes being smaller than normal, we had the bonus of the start of the shooting season being delayed on most estates...



Crested Tits have now joined the 'mixed winter flocks' of  many different bird species 'working' through our local Caledonian pine forests... so... to see the 'Cresties' you first have to  find one of these roving flocks , then listen out for their distinctive chuckling trill , then try and pick them out as they move in annoyingly flitty style through the branches - not an easy task! , but, satisfyingly for myself as a guide, we managed it on a good number of occasions, with many of my safari clients obtaining a difficult and much sought after 'life-tick'... 

Still in the forests, Crossbills sightings were (again!) usually of the rather frustrating 'fly-over' variety, with them only being identified by their characteristic 'jip' 'jip' calls as they flew overhead between different areas of the forests...so sadly, there were no photo opportunities this month...


Golden Eagle




Peregrine Falcon

We did really well for Golden Eagle sightings this month, with visits to favourite upland glens producing surprisingly regular sightings of single birds , two in the air at once twice, and even three together on one memorable occasion ,despite my frequent 'prophet of doom' predictions that we would probably not be lucky!....in fact, raptor sightings in general were quite impressive this month, with White-Tailed Eagle, Osprey, Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, Red KiteGoshawk and Merlin all seen at least once....


Black-Throated Diver



Juvenile Red-Throated Diver - note the characteristic up-turned bill


As I reported previously, both Red-Throated Diver and Black-Throated Diver bred successfully locally this summer, and although sightings reduced a little as the juveniles became more mobile, we still saw both species reasonably regularly until late in the month...

Whereas our local Slavonian Grebes were sadly not seen at all this month, having presumably migrated to the coast once the juveniles were able to fly.....



Dipper

Dipper sightings were a  little more frequent this month, with the precipitation helping the rivers to rise a little nearer to normal levels they reappeared in the areas where I would usually hope to see them..

Goldeneyes only breed in the UK in northern Scotland, and their numbers have increased greatly in recent years, mainly due to the RSPB providing nest boxes on trees around most local lochs, and we again got to see many large families of these very attractive little ducks this month...

Although I did not venture up Cairngorm Mountain myself this month, I understand that Ptarmigan, Dotterel  and Snow Bunting sadly appeared to have deserted the normally damp and insect-laden , but now bone-dry drought hit areas where we usually find them... 


Spotted Flycatcher



Other good birds reported locally this month included: Spotted FlycatcherRed-Necked Grebe, and Nuthatch (very rare up here)....



August 2018 mammal sightings.....

With bird sightings 'slowing down' a little, mammal sightings  always become more important at this time of year, and we are fortunate to have such a good selection to go for in this area....



Stag party?
A frequent winner of my safari clients 'mammal of the day' award is the iconic Red Deer, and although they can be seen in many places all round the UK these days, it is still great to see them in their 'proper' home environment of upland glens and mountainsides....and although they are still in their large same-sex groups at the moment, that will be sure to change in a few weeks time....



Red Squirrel by Jennifer Holt
We are fortunate to have Red Squirrels in our local forests, a species sadly absent from most of the UK now, so they are always popular with my safari clients - often getting voted as 'mammal of the day', and visits to my favourite Caledonian pine forests produced lots of good sightings, often with decent photographic opportunities...


Feral Mountain Goats

Also very rare and localised are Mountain Goats, interesting animals that come in a wide variety of colours from white, through grey and brown to black, or any combination of some or all of these colours, and many of my safari clients saw them in the wild for the first time whilst out on safari with me...
  
Roe Deer
Roe Deer, on the other hand, are fairly common throughout most of the UK, but due to their crepuscular nature, most of my safari clients rarely see them, and they are easily disturbed by human noise and activity...but early starts, and quiet walks round secluded areas gave us some decent views this month..







Brown Hare



Mountain Hare - apologies for poor picture quality - taken through windscreen
Being largely nocturnal, and with their summer coat perfectly matching their surroundings,  Mountain Hares can prove very difficult to see in the summer months, and we only managed a couple of brief views, but Brown Hares were a little more obliging, especially early in the morning....



Other wildlife...


Scotch Argus
Butterflies showed reasonably well, on the few still, warm and sunny days at least!, with the more common species regularly being joined by our 'local speciality' the much sought-after Scotch Argus ......

So, although not a favourite month for the hard-core birder or 'twitcher' to visit, August in the Cairngorms National Park would still appear to have a lot to offer the more casual or beginner nature-watcher or those with a young family looking for a less intense or 'taster' wildlife safari experience, with no need for an early start, in arguably, one of the more scenic months of the year....




If you think you know someone who may enjoy a taste of what I do, why not treat them to a safari gift certificate. They make a thoughtful and imaginative present, are available for any amount and are valid at any time within a year from date of purchase....

Our recently upgraded Land Rover Discovery in a beautiful local upland glen



Wednesday, August 01, 2018

July 2018 saw the near-drought conditions of the previous two months continue, and the vast majority of the month was warm, sunny and dry, with just a few cooler showery days....Great for us humans out wildlife watching, but... in extreme conditions, as well as winners there will also be losers..... and although most bird and mammal species seem to be coping, the species reliant on damp ground and worms are definitely struggling, and in some cases abandoning their usual haunts and relocating to other areas in search of food...whilst our rivers are at record low levels, meaning that the Atlantic Salmon must be struggling to make their way upstream to the spawning grounds....
However, it was a very enjoyable and reasonably successful month for wildlife sightings, and although the days are shortening slightly now, this far north there are still around 18 hours of usable daylight.
Full-day safari bird species day lists dropped a little, down into the 40's, as some of our wader species moved away from their upland breeding territories to the coasts, and things have definitely quietened down , as just about every bird species seems to have successfully raised and fledged youngsters now.
Mammal day lists varied between 4 and 9, depending on the length of day, and variety of habitats visited...with early starts generally producing more and closer sightings, with again, many species seen with youngsters..
With plenty of sunshine, the heather starting to turn a beautiful vivid purple, and the wild flowers and butterflies at their most abundant, the Cairngorms National Park really was a beautiful and unspoilt place to be, and my safari clients, from all around the world, including Canada, USA, Australia, Norway, Italy , Holland and all over the UK certainly seemed to enjoy themselves.....as did I......


Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve

To give you an idea of what you may realistically hope to see if you are planning a future July visit yourself, I hope the following more detailed information, illustrated with photos taken this month (and in previous July's) in and around the Cairngorms National Park  (and occasionally beyond) by myself,  my friends or my safari clients will help - clicking on the picture enlarges it to full screen.

Local speciality and upland bird species seen regularly throughout the month included:  Osprey,  Red GrouseSlavonian Grebe, Red-Throated DiverBlack-Throated Diver, Goldeneye and Dipper.
We also  enjoyed some regular good views of Red Kite, a few reasonable sightings of Crested Tit, and  a couple of fleeting glimpses of Scottish Crossbill, and one of a Merlinthough sadly Golden Eagle, White-Tailed EagleCapercaillie and Black Grouse (not unusually) were not seen at all on my safaris this month....

Mammals seen regularly locally during the month included: Red SquirrelRabbitBrown HareRoe DeerRed DeerReindeer and Mountain Goat, with just a couple of sightings of  Sika Deer and Mountain Hare and one brief glimpse of a Stoat....


Adult Osprey delivering nest material

Adult female Osprey with her chicks



Our local Ospreys stole the show again this month, often being voted as 'Bird of the day' by my safari clients, with the adult birds seen fishing, delivering fish and nesting material, and feeding and encouraging the fast growing 'scaly' looking , orange-eyed youngsters to take their 'maiden flights', and by late-month they had indeed fledged and were seen perched and flying for the first time.. I can therefore highly recommend July as THE month for Osprey watching and photography in this area...


Adult male Red Grouse
Young Red Grouse
Red Grouse too are always popular with my safari parties, as being a bird of largely uninhabited upland moors, most of my clients do not have them close to home. We, however, are fortunate to have lots of suitable heather moorland in this area, and throughout the month we enjoyed good close up views of families of up to 6 of these very characterful and beautifully marked birds, though with the 'glorious 12th' rapidly approaching... I suspect they may not be quite so obliging next month...


Adult Slavonian (Horned) Grebe with two well-grown chicks
Slavonian (Horned) Grebe, one of our rarest and surely one of our most beautiful British breeding birds, with the UK being at the very western limits of it's breeding range , have often struggled to breed successfully in this area in recent years,  but as I reported last month,  it was great news for our one 'local' pair this year, and it was great to see the two youngsters growing rapidly and learning to dive for fish this month.


Red-Throated Diver
Divers (Loons), being very rare in summer south of here, and looking resplendent in their dapper summer plumage are always popular with my safari clients, and we were fortunate enough to get lots of good views of both Red-Throated and Black-Throated , often with their rapidly growing youngsters on their favoured local lochs throughout the month. It should be noted however, that they are rarely seen close to the shore, can be difficult to find in 'choppy' conditions, and are easily disturbed by non wildlife-friendly tourists dog-walking, swimming and boating etc, so the less windy days and early morning starts in search of them usually gave us our closest sightings....
Black-Throated Divers



Crested Tit
Crested Tits were seen reasonably frequently on our walks through Caledonian pine forests, often in family parties, though I must stress again, that they can be very elusive in the spring and summer months, and knowing their distinctive rippling trills is a huge advantage in helping you to see these very 'flitty' little local specialities....which are incredibly difficult to photograph by the way...


It was a similar story with Crossbills too, with the majority of our sightings being of the rather frustrating 'fly-over' variety, with them only being identified by their characteristic 'jip' 'jip' calls as they flew between different parts of the forests...but we did get lucky on one occasion when a family group perched briefly, allowing the rare treat of views through a scope ...though a photo escaped me.. aaargh!


Male Ring Ouzel
Ring Ouzels were seen in upland habitats near their nesting and feeding areas, at least early in the month, especially near the few damp areas, but became noticeably more elusive as the month progressed as they and their recently-fledged young began to roam even further afield, and it appeared that they may well have vacated this area and headed south for warmer climes by the end of the month....

Goldeneyes only breed in the UK in northern Scotland, and their numbers have increased greatly in recent years, mainly due to the RSPB providing nest boxes on trees around most local lochs, and we got to see many large families of these very attractive little ducks this month...



Dipper
Dipper sightings were much less frequent than normal this month, with the birds seemingly quite mobile up and down the very low level rivers, on some days we saw none, and on other days we saw one on each river we visited! Which just goes to show that although local knowledge and experience are important, sometimes you need a bit of luck too......

Eagles are probably hardest to see in mid-summer (in this area at least), as the birds are still concentrating on fledging young, and have so many hours of daylight in which to hunt, and sadly we didn't manage a single decent confirmed sighting this month, only a couple of very distant "could have been" views...


Still on raptors, we did however manage to see  Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk regularly during the month... we also enjoyed the very rare treat of being in the right place at the right time to witness young Peregrines being taught to hunt by their parents, and we also had one brief glimpse of a Merlin hunting low over a moorland...

Snow Bunting
Ptarmigan

Dotterel
July is 'last chance saloon' for seeing all 3 of our mountain top species in one trip, as the Dotterel often depart in early August..and although days of suitable weather (dry, calm and clear) were reasonably frequent, on the couple of occasions we took to the hills to look for them , using my Cairngorm Mountain Birdwatching Guide qualification to allow us to use the funicular railway and then exit the (usually) closed system for a walk up to the summit, only a few Snow Buntings were seen, with the Ptarmigan and Dotterel seemingly having deserted the very dry mountain tops, presumably for more productive feeding areas elsewhere....but I thought I would include a few photos from previous July sightings, to give you an idea of what is possible in  more 'normal' conditions...

Other 'good' birds seen or reported locally in Badenoch and Strathspey this month included Honey Buzzard, Nuthatch (very rare this far north), and Spotted Flycatcher.

July mammal sightings...


Red Squirrel
The award for 'mammal of the day' as voted for by my safari clients, frequently went to that ever popular pine cone chomping, peanut-munching forest dwelling local speciality, the cute and charismatic Red Squirrel, who can usually be relied upon to appear for an easy feast at my favourite forest feeding stations.....though we also had a few 'random' sightings whilst on forest walks....often being alerted to their presence by the sound of falling pine cones....

Red Deer hinds with their young
Red Deer were regularly seen in local upland glens, usually in large same-sex herds, the stags happily feeding and seemingly relaxing, and the hinds with their fast-growing young always nearby ....with many of my safari guests from far-away lands putting these iconic beasts high up on their 'wish-lists'....

Mountain Goat by Norman Green
In the same upland glens, we also had regular good views of  large groups of another scarce and very localised mammal, the feral Mountain Goat..  interesting animals, that come in a wide variety of colours, from white, through grey and brown to black, or sometimes a mixture of all of these...

Sika Deer
Sika Deer , also known as the spotted deer or the Japanese deer, is a species native to much of East Asia, but they were introduced to many country estates in the UK in the 1800's and we are fortunate to have a few in this area, and we saw small families of them a couple of times this month..

Mountain Hares are definitely at their 'most difficult to see' time of year now...their mottled brown and grey coats providing near-perfect camouflage among the rocks in their mountainside homes...and so it proved ... with our sightings being limited to only a couple of distant glimpses..

Brown Hare
Brown Hares however, proved to be much more obliging, especially early in the morning, with slow drives through quiet farmland, using my vehicle as a mobile hide giving us some decent views....


Other wildlife...



Butterflies of several different types were seen regularly, with the more common species now being joined by our 'local speciality' the Scotch Argus towards the end of the month...


Meadow Brown



Common Blue



Scotch Argus

So my 'sum-up' for this month is ... although the bird breeding season is almost over, July is a pretty decent month to see a good selection of birds, animals and butterflies in this area, with no need for a really early start, and it's also good for a mountain-top adventure, or a trip to a seabird colony with (usually) fairly good weather, and all still with plenty of daylight hours....Though I must confess that I always tend to feel just a little sad at the end of every July , as I know that many of our summer visiting birds are soon to vacate our area and fly south to warmer climes as summer turns to early autumn next month.....






If you think you know someone who may enjoy a taste of what I do, why not treat them to a safari gift certificate. They make a thoughtful and imaginative present, are available for any amount and are valid at any time within a year from date of purchase....




Glenmore Forest


Sunday, July 01, 2018

June 2018 weather-wise, started and finished in similar style to May, with high pressure, light winds and very warm temperatures,  but.... a very 'changeable' middle fortnight saw Storm Hector bring high winds, rain , much cooler temperatures, and even some hill snow, as if to remind us that we are actually in the Scottish Highlands and not the Mediterranean! However, there were still plenty of safari-friendly days of weather for it turn out to be yet another excellent month for wildlife sightings.
With around 20 hours of usable daylight and all of our summer visiting bird species now on territory, bird day-lists are just below the highest in the year now, with full-day (10 hour multi-habitat safaris regularly producing over 50 species - many with youngsters - June is definitely 'fledgling month' - so if you enjoy seeing baby birds, this is definitely the month to visit!
Mammal day-lists ranged between 4 and 9 species depending on the variety of habitats visited, with early starts, as usual, proving to be most productive for the 'shyer' species.
The combination of sun and mid-month rain helped to refresh and restore the lush, green appearance of the spectacular highland scenery and gave the river levels a much-needed but sadly short-lived top-up, whilst the wild flowers are approaching their colourful best now, and a few patches of purple heather began to appear on south-facing banks.
A few more butterfly species were noted on the sunnier days, though sadly, in smaller numbers than I would usually expect.

The River Spey with the Cairngorm mountains in the background

To give you an idea of what you may realistically hope to see if you are planning a future June visit yourself, I hope the following more detailed information, illustrated with photos taken this month in and around the Cairngorms National Park  (and occasionally beyond) by myself,  my friends or my safari clients will help - clicking on the picture enlarges it to full screen.


Local speciality and upland bird species seen regularly this month included:
Osprey, Slavonian Grebe
Ring OuzelRed GrouseRed-Throated Diver, Black-Throated Diver, Goldeneye, Dipper, Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler, with a few sightings of Crested Tit and  Scottish Crossbill, ....it should be noted though, that, apart from brief glimpses, we (not unusually) failed to 'properly' see Golden Eagle, White-Tailed EagleBlack Grouse or Capercaillie at all this month....

Mammals seen regularly on my safaris during the month included:
Rabbit, Brown Hare, Mountain Hare, Red Squirrel, Roe Deer, Red Deer, Reindeer, Sika Deer and Mountain Goat , we also managed just a couple of brief views of Stoat and Bank Vole, ....Whilst a couple of 'out of area' coastal trips also produced plenty of Seals, and a pod of Dolphins....


Osprey
Osprey is probably the 'star bird' of the mid-summer months up here  - with my safari parties being fortunate enough to see them sat in and around the nest, plunge-diving spectacularly to catch a fish, or delivering a fish to the nest on several occasions, and from the third week of the month we began to see the rapidly growing 'downy' youngsters in the nests for the first time this year....a marvellous sight!

Slavonian (Horned) Grebe with chicks
Male Slavonian Grebes, in their beautiful summer plumage, were seen and enjoyed regularly by my safari parties on their favoured quiet lochans,  regularly observed delivering food to the female birds on their nests hidden deep in the sedge beds for much of the month,  and from the third week of the month, we could finally confirm much-needed breeding success for this (UK-wise) rare and threatened species, when we finally got to see the incredibly cute humbug-striped youngsters - great news!


Male Ring Ouzel
Ring Ouzels often showed well in upland habitats near their nesting and feeding areas early in the month but became noticeably more elusive as the month progressed as they and their recently-fledged young began to roam further afield....



Female Red Grouse with 3 chicks - can you spot them?

Red Grouse were not too difficult to find in suitable areas of heather moorland, despite their impressive camouflage,  and if you could spot the heads of the adults above the dense heather, and looked carefully, you then usually got to see their large families of very cute, fast-growing youngsters too...


Red-Throated Diver



Black-Throated Diver

Both Red-Throated Divers and Black-Throated Divers in their striking summer plumage, were seen reasonably regularly on suitable secluded local lochs,  though we generally had our best views on calmer days, with little or no ripple on the water, and usually had our closest encounters early  in the day, when human disturbance was it it's lowest....and very pleasingly, we got to see evidence of local breeding success , in the shape of several fluffy chicks of both species... more great news!

Crested Tit (finally!!!) became a little less difficult to see, as the recently-fledged youngsters learned to forage for food with their parents in family groups, often alerting us to their presence in the Caledonian pine forests with their distinctive rippling trills....but please be aware that you need to be able to hear and recognise this to have a decent chance....don't worry, I will use the app on my ipad to train you up!!

The same could be said of Scottish Crossbills, usually one of the more tricky species to see well, but by listening out for their trademark 'jip jip' calls and for falling pine cones....we actually managed decent sightings on a couple of occasions this month, though a decent photo escaped me....


Young Dipper
Dippers featured reasonably frequently on my safaris this month, with our local rivers producing great close-up views of families of these characterful and endearing little birds, that always prove to be popular with my clients, many of whom do not have them on or near their local patch.....


Golden Eagle and White-Tailed Eagle are iconic 'Scottish' birds which always seems to be on visiting birders 'wish-lists', and we are fortunate to have a number of suitable upland glens nearby, however.... it should be noted that, with most females on eggs, or with very young chicks, and 18+ hours of daylight available for the males and sub-adults to use for hunting, the chances of us just happening to be in the right place at the right time to see one are are fairly low during  spring and summer  (when compared to the autumn/winter months) and generally raptor sightings in this area were pretty hard to come by, with very few photographic opportunities...

Other birds of prey seen at least once on my safaris this month included OspreyCommon Buzzard, Kestrel, PeregrineSparrowhawk, Red Kite and Hen Harrier......


Ptarmigan (photo from June 2016)


Dotterel (photo from June 2016)


Snow Bunting (photo from June 2017)
June is probably the best month to have a chance of seeing all 3 of our mountain top bird species - Ptarmigan, Dotterel and Snow Bunting - and although the weather would often have been suitable, unfortunately, the Cairngorm Funicular railway was out of action due to repairs for much of the month which would have meant a long and gruelling walk up in the summer heat... so I am instead planning a couple of walks up when the railway is reopened in early July....but I thought I would include a few photos from previous June sightings, to give you an idea of what is possible...


Male Wheatear


Male Stonechat


Ringed Plover


Snipe
June is also probably the best month in which to visit a coastal or island seabird colony, and I can recommend a trip to any of the many seabird colonies around Scotland's coast , often with impressively high and wonderfully scenic cliffs and where you can enjoy the unique sights, sounds (and smells!) of good numbers of Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Guillemots ,Gannets and yes, everybody's favourite - Puffins! Not forgetting of course, the 'back-up' cast of species such as Wheatear, Stonechat,  Snipe and Ringed Plover...





Wood Warbler


Spotted Flycatcher
Female Pied Flycatcher

Other good birds of note seen locally this month included Cuckoo,  Redstart, Bullfinch,  Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher and Wood Warbler, some of which can now be tricky to see in large parts of the UK....


A picturesque local birch wood


June mammal sightings....

Red Squirrel
Our local Red Squirrels, a species sadly absent from most of the UK now, are always popular with my safari clients - often getting voted as 'mammal of the day', and visits to my favourite Caledonian pine forests produced lots of good sightings, often with decent photographic opportunities...




Red Deer (photo from June 2015)

Red Deer too are not common in much of the UK, but we are fortunate to have good numbers here in our local glens , and we had many decent views of them again this month, and we noticed that some of the stags were growing impressive sets of antlers...



Feral Mountain Goats  (photo from June 2017)
The same uplands also hold a few feral Mountain Goats, which many of my safari clients saw in the wild for the first time whilst out on safari with me...


Mountain Hare (photo from June 2017)
Mountain Hares too are largely restricted to remote upland areas, and although we had a few decent views this month, being a blotchy grey and white now, they were generally a bit tricky to see....


Brown Hare

Brown Hares however, were seen much more frequently, especially early in the day, and occasionally at surprisingly close range, for this normally quite wary species....


Roe Deer, although relatively common across the UK, can be tricky to see due to their generally shy nature, and now we no longer have the really early starts, our sightings definitely reduced this month, though we still saw at least one nearly every time...


Sika Deer
Sika Deer, an introduced species from it's native range in Asia in the late 19th century now have established feral populations in a number of locations, and we had a few decent sighting of these very attractive animals. 



Other wildlife...


Small Copper by Bob Smith
Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary

Butterflies were seen more frequently this month, with the more common species being joined by our first Small Coppers and Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillaries of the year....


Wood Ants nest
Wood Ants build huge nests in our local forests, and we came across several on our walks this month. From a distance they just look like a mound of earth, but when you get close you realise that there are many thousands of the busy little critters going about their business....



A local Caledonian pine forest

Well, I reckon June 2018 was as good, and maybe even better than most other June's for wildlife-watching in this area - With the 'Beast from the east' in April setting nesting back a good couple of weeks, much of the month felt more like May, with us seeing and hearing more species still displaying, nesting and singing than usual. Add in the (generally) great weather, the breeding success of most of our local speciality species,  especially the local Divers and Slavonian Grebes, and the fact that this was my 'busiest' June ever for safaris - thanks to all my clients! - I am writing this with a big smile on my face.......




If you think you know someone who may enjoy a taste of what I do, why not treat them to a safari gift certificate. They make a thoughtful and imaginative present, are available for any amount and are valid at any time within a year from date of purchase....