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

Monday, October 31, 2011

October 2011 was a kind of 'back to front' month weather-wise - it started cold with snow on the higher tops, was windy throughout, but ended surprisingly mildly with temperatures into double-figures - very unseasonal! The days are shortening noticeably now though, with almost as much darkness as daylight. Inward bird migration continued apace, with many winter Thrushes joining the early Geese & Wildfowl. Bird day-lists increased slightly into the 40's, whilst mammal day-list remained steady at 6-9 depending on our luck.

Wildlife highlights included:

The Red Deer 'rut' is always one of the highlights of any Autumn, and it is surely one of British nature's 'must-see' spectacles, with the magnificent fully antlered stags (see pic) corralling their 'harems' of hinds, defending them from other 'challengers' with much roaring, posturing & even actually fighting, & repeatedly mating with as many of their 'ladies' as possible - it's wonderfully entertaining , if a little brutal at times, and looks exhausting!.

The winter Thrushes poured in from the North, first the Redwings - usually heard before being seen - their thin 'seep seep' calls alerting us to the presence of the flocks flying overhead, followed a few days later by the Fieldfares. I think the berries on our trees & bushes may disappear very soon.....

Whooper Swans appeared on one of our large local lochs on the 5th, their dawn arrival preceded by their amazing 'trumpeting' calls while the flock of around 20 circled - I think I was the first 'local' to see them this winter, as I happened to be quietly fishing... a magic moment.

A trip into the Caledonian Pine forests at the foot of the Cairngorms gave us an amazing close-up view of 2 young Capercaillie - one male , one female - both just gaining their adult plumage - a rare treat to get a good sighting of arguably Britain's most endangered bird species...

A short afternoon visit to Insh Marshes RSPB reserve provided splendid views of a ring-tail (female)Hen Harrier hunting low over the marshland, and actually having a grab for a Mallard from one of the many shallow pools.

Mid-month, I witnessed some Dipper behaviour that I had never seen before - although I was aware that they start to compete for territory in Autumn - I actually saw 2 Dippers, fighting very aggressively - seemingly trying to drown each other!, on the surface in the middle of a good-sized loch - amazing stuff!

The Pine Marten - one of Britain's rarest & hardest to see mammals - was again a regular after-dark visitor to my baited site, putting smiles on many faces, with his arrival time getting progressively earlier as the days grew shorter.

Black Grouse numbers continued to grow at traditional 'lek' sites , as the Cock birds began their long build-up to the 'lekking' season with a little gentle posturing at dawn, especially on the colder mornings.

The mixed Finch & Bunting flocks on local farmland grew noticeably larger, with some now containing over a hundred birds of at least 6 different species.

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