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

Saturday, January 07, 2012

A Merry Christmas & a wildlife-tastic New Year to all our readers!
December 2011 started unseasonably mild, only to rapidly turn very wintry, with gales first, then floods, followed by snow & sub-zero temperatures. The days are very short now, with less than 8 hours daylight, but there is still plenty to see. Bird day-lists remained in the 30's or 40's, with mammal day-lists steady at 5-9 species depending on our luck.

Wildlife highlights included:

Winter-white specialities: Our local Ptarmigan & Mountain Hares are now resplendent in their thick pure white coats, though opportunities to see them are restricted to days with reasonable weather due to their upland & mountainside home territory.

Local speciality species such as Dipper, Goldeneye, Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Crested Tit, Crossbill, Red Squirrel, Red Deer, Mountain Goat, Mountain Hare etc all continued to show regularly.

Our local Dippers continued to display & sing loudly at dawn, with the need to establish a territory & find a mate well underway.

Black Grouse numbers at or near traditional 'lek' sites continued to increase, with the cock birds becoming noticeably more vocal & aggressive as the countdown to breeding season begins.

The cock Red Grouse on the moors too are starting to become more obvious, with much calling & displaying going on.

Crested Tits are still best seen at forest feeding stations, as natural food becomes more elusive, giving us the opportunity to see & photograph them at close range..

Golden Eagles continued to show in secluded upland glens, with the shorter days giving less time to feed , winter is definitely the best time for raptor-watching in this area.

The colder, snowier weather usually brings a few rarer birds into well stocked garden feeding stations, and I was lucky enough to tempt a Brambling into mine, with locals also reporting Yellowhammers & Redpolls.

Mixed flocks of Finches & Buntings on farmland continued to grow, with some flocks having upwards of 300 birds of many different species.

Coastal birding is often a good substitute if our upland areas are inaccessible due to bad weather, with attractions such as King Eider , Iceland Gull & Glaucous Gull along with the more common species.

A few Waxwings were reported , but not in anything like the numbers of last year's 'invasion'.