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

Thursday, August 01, 2013

July 2013 was, and there is no other word for it really, Scorchio!! With barely a cloud in the sky most of the month , and temperatures regularly approaching 30c,  we enjoyed one of the hottest July's on record, and  the usual waterproofs and hats were replaced by short sleeves and baseball caps in near perfect safari weather. Bird species day-lists dropped a little, down  into the 40's , as some of our wader species vacated the upland areas for the coasts, whilst mammal species day-lists varied between 6 and 9. The days have shortened a little,  but we still have over 18 hours of usable daylight, and with the heather starting to turn a gorgeous purple and the wild flowers and Butterflies at their most abundant now, the Cairngorms National Park is a glorious place to be!

Wildlife highlights included:

Local speciality bird species seen regularly included:
Dipper, Osprey, Slavonian Grebe, Red_Throated Diver, Black-Throated Diver, Red Grouse, Golden Plover and Crested Tit, with occasional sightings of Crossbill and Golden Eagle, with Ring Ouzel, Capercaillie and Black Grouse sadly proving very elusive indeed....

Local speciality mammal species seen regularly included:
Red Squirrel, Red Deer, Reindeer and Mountain Goat, with occasional sightings of Stoat, Weasel, Bank Vole, Brown hare and Mountain Hare.....


Our local Ospreys were probably the stars of the show this month, with the adult birds delivering fish regularly throughout the day to the rapidly growing youngsters, who, by mid-month, were fledged, flying and some even occasionally fishing for themselves. So, for photographers wanting to get shots of Ospreys at the nest, flying, plunge-diving and delivering fish, July is the month to visit.....(see pics)

Crested Tits, often with youngsters, continued to visit forest feeding stations in the early mornings, though sightings became less frequent as the month progressed....

Slavonian Grebes were seen on secluded local lochs , with these gorgeous and very rare little birds bringing many a "wow" from my safari clients, though sadly, very little evidence of breeding was noted again....(see pic courtesy of Jon Worthington )

Black-Throated Divers were sighted on suitable upland lochs, looking magnificent in their splendid summer plumage, (see pic courtesy of Jon Worthington), with at least one pair seen teaching a youngster to fish....

Red-Throated Divers too,  were spotted on several occasions on larger lochs, though with lots of tourists around and water sports going on, early mornings gave us the best chances of seeing them, as they are very sensitive to disturbance...

Red Grouse families were seen well on the moors throughout the month, with the youngsters now nearly as large as their parents....

Our local rivers provided plenty of sightings of Dippers, especially near to the bridges where they will have nested...

Golden Eagles were spotted soaring in secluded upland glens on a few occasions, though they seemed to prefer the windier days to the still ones, and sightings were still less reliable than in winter...

Crossbills generally proved to be elusive, though we did manage a few views of families feeding high up in coniferous forests, their 'glip glip 'calls and the sound of cones dropping often betraying their presence...

July is probably one of the best months for seeing the 'mountain' species such as Dotterel, Ptarmigan and Snow Bunting, though it should be noted that they are generally seen at the very tops of the mountains, meaning a fair amount of physical effort, and a reasonable degree of fitness is required...

Our Red Deer tend to be in all male and all female groups at this time of year, and we were lucky enough to find one group of hinds with their very pretty white-spotted young... (see pic)

Roe Deer were frequently heard 'barking' , especially early in the  mornings, a sure sign that their rutting season is now upon us....

Our Red Squirrels seem to have had a good breeding season, and though you can get lucky with sightings by walking through suitable coniferous forest, your best bet is definitely to visit forest feeding stations...

Our local Mountain Goats too, have good numbers of youngsters, and provided good entertainment with their displays of agility and balance on the rocky slopes of upland glens...(see pic)

Most of our Butterfly species are on the wing by now, including our 'local speciality' the attractive Scotch Argus (see pic by Bob Smith)

For the lovers of 'creepy-crawlies', our Wood Ant nests are at their most impressive now, with some standing several feet high and several feet across, and seething with life...(see pic)

So, to summarise, July 2013 was another great month for wildlife-watching in the Cairngorms National Park, no doubt enhanced by the sunny weather, glorious scenery,  purple heather and abundant wild flowers, and with the Moray Firth Dolphins and numerous coastal seabird colonies all just a sensible drive away, Highland Scotland is a super holiday destination for those with a liking for the 'great outdoors'