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

Saturday, February 27, 2010

February 2010 started mild-ish (compared to January!), with the snow starting to disappear, and I was at last able to get to some of my favourite , remote, wild places. However, it was a bit of a false dawn, as the month ended with more heavy snowfall & sub zero temperatures which , again, caused problems getting around, though the lengthening days were very welcome.

Wildlife highlights included:

A dawn encounter with an Otter on the Spey, an enjoyable & memorable experience, which made the early start worthwhile!

Several after - dark sightings of the elusive & very sought - after Pine Marten at a local baited site, though their arrival time was very variable, sometimes within 15 minutes of arriving, at other times after 2 hours+ of waiting, with the occasional 'no-show', just to keep me on my toes!

Decent views of up to 7 male Black grouse at a local 'lek' site, their behaviour becoming noticeably more aggressive (& noisier!) towards each other, as the breeding season draws nearer.

Similarly, the Red Grouse on local moorland have begun to display, the bright red 'eyebrows' of the males now showing well, as they utter their guttural, cackling calls from a prominent perch in the heather.

Snow Buntings were seen regularly at favourite spots in the Cairngorm Mountains, though sightings were very subject to disturbance by the thousands of snowsports enthusiasts on the nearby slopes.

Also on the snowy local mountains, we managed a few sightings of beautiful winter-white Ptarmigan, with a stealthy approach allowing some good close-up views.

Mountain Hares also featured on hill-walks, with their cute, fluffy appearance not diminishing our respect for them as they 'tough it out' in the Arctic conditions - these guys are very hardy! (see pic - courtesy of Greg Morgan)

The first Waxwings of the year were seen in the area, beautiful visitors from colder climes further North, though not yet in the large numbers of recent winters.

Dippers were seen to be displaying on local rivers, their comical bobbing, wing-waggling dances were very entertaining, and their song is about the only one to be heard at this time of year.

Redpoll was added to my 2010 'garden-list' as several uncommon (in gardens) species, joined the dozens of more common birds in taking advantage of the food & water I provide for them.