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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

June 2013 finally saw us get some proper summer weather in this area, with the first half of the month seeing us enjoy plenty of sunshine and light winds, though the second half was a little more changeable, but still not bad from a safari guide's perspective. Our days are at their very longest in June, with near 24 hour wildlife-watching available for those with the stamina to attempt it! It should be noted though, that a 3-4am start is needed if you are to have any chance of seeing the 'dawn' species such as Black Grouse. While the mountain top species such as Ptarmigan, Dotterel and Snow Bunting are probably at their most accessible at this time of year. Bird day-lists were consistently up in the 50's on full-day multi-habitat safaris, with mammals well represented by 6-9 species on most occasions. The wild flowers are at their glorious best now, adding a wonderful splash of colour to our already beautiful scenery, with the first butterflies beginning to show too.

Wildlife highlights included:

Local speciality bird species seen regularly throughout  this month included: Dipper, Goldeneye, Slavonian Grebe, Red-Throated Diver, Black-Throated Diver, Osprey, Red Grouse, Ring Ouzel and Crested Tit, with Black Grouse only being seen early in the month,  Crossbill and Golden Eagle only being seen occasionally and Capercaillie sadly, notable only by their absence.....

Mammals seen during this month included: Rabbit, Roe Deer, Red Deer, Reindeer, Red Squirrel, Brown Hare, (See pic) Mountain Hare, Mountain Goat and  Bank Vole, with a solitary sighting of the much sought after but rarely seen inland Otter, and even more amazingly, a brief early morning  view of a Scottish Wildcat crossing a forest track!

Black Grouse, uncommonly, continued to 'lek' at dawn at one local site up until the 12th of the month, though they were not seen after this date....

Red Grouse frequently showed well on suitable heather moorland , often in family groups, giving my safari parties excellent photo opportunities...(see pic by Steve Simnett)

Crested Tits, again unusually, were seen at and around favourite forest feeding stations on and off throughout the month, and were even seen to be feeding newly-fledged young from around the 20th onwards...(see pic by Steve Simnett)

Our local Ospreys provided superb entertainment throughout, with plunge-dive fishing, nest-maintenance and fish delivering all seen, and the rapidly growing youngsters beginning to flap their wings in preparation for their maiden flights next month....(see pic)

Dippers were frequently spotted, often whilst  feeding their young on our local rivers, although they are a relatively common bird here, they are missing from large areas of the UK, and are a valued 'year-tick' for birders from those areas.....(see pic by Malcolm Fincham)

Our local Slavonian Grebes produced many a "wow!"from my excited safari clients, I suspect,  not just because of their rarity value, but mainly due to their sheer, gorgeous beauty! (see pic by Steve Simnett)

Ring Ouzels were seen busily collecting beak-fulls of worms from wet grassy areas on upland areas, before flying off and disappearing into the heather, where presumably, their hungry young were  waiting...(see pic my Malcolm Fincham)

Red-Throated Divers showed on local lochs on several occasions,  usually at distance, and  it should be noted that these are best looked for early or late, as they are very easily disturbed by human activities....

Black-Throated Divers too were noted quite frequently on their favourite upland lochs, though long-distance views are the norm, we occasionally get lucky with a good close-up photo opportunity...(see pic by Malcolm Fincham)

Crossbills were, (at last!), seen on several occasions in our local forests, frustratingly, usually flying overhead, but on one occasion, feeding at reasonably close range, allowing me to get a half-decent photo....(see pic)

Our local upland glens produced a few sightings of the magnificent Golden Eagle, including , notably, one rather scruffy looking adult bird with a number of feathers missing, which flew directly over our heads at low altitude on the 27th! It's unkempt appearance did not detract from our enjoyment, though!

Cuckoos  continued to show well in the early part of the month, giving good photo opportunities (see pic by Steve Simnett), though they became much more elusive after mid-month....

A Short-Eared Owl was noted hunting low over a local moorland on the 5th, the afternoon sun showing up it's lovely gold, white and black plumage very nicely...

Hobby is not a common bird in this area, so to get several (albeit brief!) sightings of this dashing hawk catching dragonflies over our local lochs was much appreciated...

Woodcock is a 'crepuscular' bird , most frequently seen at dawn or dusk in silhouette over suitable forest habitat, so a close-up daytime sighting of one feeding at the forest edge in daylight on the 20th was a real bonus!

Fledglings! Just about every bird species now seems to have young, bringing many an "aaaahhh" from my safari clients! (See young Curlew pic by Malcolm Fincham)

The middle of the month saw me take a couple of day-trips with some birding mates over to the west coast - Mull giving us good sightings of both White-Tailed and Golden Eagles, Hen Harrier, Wood Warbler, various seabirds and Seals and Dolphins - whilst our day on the north-west coast around the Ullapool to Durness area saw us enjoy the seabird colonies, including everyone's favourite, the Puffins.

So, to summarise, a hectic but very enjoyable month with decent weather and lots of very enjoyable wildlife-watching - probably the best month of the year for the 'all-rounder' after lots of birds, mammals, butterflies, wild flowers and no snow!

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