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

Monday, January 31, 2011

January 2011 started very cold, with December's snow lingering, but the rest of the month saw a gradual thaw and the unusually mild weather was most welcome, as it allowed access to my favourite remote wildlife-watching areas. The days grew noticeably longer, and a few sunny mornings were enlivened by a hint of a dawn chorus! Bird day-list averaged high 30's & low 40's & mammal day-lists were 5-8 depending on our luck.

Wildlife highlights included:

A flying start to my 2011 'year-list' included New year's day sightings of Bittern & Great Grey Shrike.

Local specialities such as Dipper, Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Crested Tit, Golden Eagle, Red Squirrel, Red Deer, Reindeer, Mountain Goat & Mountain Hare continued to show regularly, giving many of my safari clients good 'year-ticks' & for some , memorable 'life-ticks'.

A trip to the Moray coast gave excellent views of many species of of sea birds including good numbers of Long-Tailed Ducks & Eiders (see pic) - though I failed to see the King Eider, or Glaucous or Iceland Gulls that were reported to be in the area.

A few Waxwings lingered in the area , though many seem to have travelled south throughout the rest of the UK in search of berries.

The first 'proper' birdsong of the year came courtesy of our local Dippers, their loud squeaky, scratchy song even audible over the fast flowing water.

Birdfeeders close to coniferous woodland continued to give regular sightings of Crested Tits.

Winter is the best time to see Golden Eagle in this area - the short days giving them less hours of daylight in which to hunt.

Mountain peaks gave sightings of our most sought-after 'winter-white' species - Ptarmigan, Snow Bunting & Mountain Hare, to those hardy enough to venture out!

Both Black Grouse & Red Grouse males became easier to see & hear as they became noticeably more active & vocal, especially in the early mornings.

There was an unconfirmed report of a Gyrfalcon at the south end of the Spey Valley, most winter's see one or two brief sightings of this huge Northern falcon over mountainous areas, but I've yet to be lucky!