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

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all our readers! I hope that you all have a wildlife-filled 2013. December 2012 started with very wintry weather, plenty of snow and temperatures as low as minus 10. However, it gradually became slightly milder mid-month and actually ended unseasonably mild for mid-winter. Although the days are at their shortest now, with only around 8 hours of daylight, the absence of any really extreme weather allowed us to enjoy some good safari sightings.
Bird day-lists averaged 30-40 species, whilst mammal day-lists varied between 6 and 9.

Wildlife highlights included:

The superb spectacle of 3 Golden Eagles seen soaring together, enjoying the last few  'thermals' in a secluded upland glen, just before the sun dropped over the horizon - a great way to end a safari!

Other raptors were seen regularly too, with Buzzard, Peregrine, Kestrel, Red Kite, Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk and Merlin all seen at some point.

Good sized flocks of Waxwings  (see pic) were seen intermittently, giving reasonable photo opportunities, though the berries are now dwindling rapidly.....

Crested Tits continued to come to my Caledonian forest feeding areas quite regularly, especially on the colder days, when presumably natural food is harder to come by...

Cock Black Grouse were seen regularly at favourite sites at dawn, with up to 5 birds interacting and occasionally displaying, as 'lekking' season approaches...

Cock red Grouse also became easier to see , with much calling from prominent points on our local moorlands, as they began to establish territorial rights...

Snow Buntings were seen at lower than normal levels when the snow came, with up to 20 being spotted at various mountain-side sites.

Crossbills were also spotted on a few occasions , though, frustratingly, usually only as fly-overs, identified by their sharp 'glip-glip' calls.

The very cold snap also brought some interesting visitors to garden feeding stations,  with Bramblings, Yellowhammers and Redpolls (see pic) all being reported.

Whooper Swans (see pic) were seen in good numbers on local lochs and rivers, along with other winter wildfowl such as Wigeon and Teal.

Mammals spotted regularly included Roe Deer, Red Deer, Reindeer, Rabbit, Brown Hare, Mountain Hare and Mountain Goat, with the occasional Stoat putting in an appearance.

A few Salmon were still lingering in our local rivers, many of them showing 'battle-scars' from the rigours of their upstream journey and spawning.

So, to sum up, 2012 was a great year for wildlife-watching in the Cairngorms National Park, and will be a hard act to follow - but I am sure I will enjoy trying!

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