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

Friday, October 04, 2013

September 2013 was generally dry and mild in this area , with strong winds mid-month, but no real extremes of weather. I was away on holiday visiting relatives for the second half of the month, so my report will be shorter than usual, and will contain some 'general' observations from previous September experiences.
With all of the summer visiting bird species gone by mid-month, and with the winter visiting bird species yet to arrive, bird day-lists are probably at their smallest, with around 30-40 species being seen, though mammal day-lists are still strong at 5-9 species.
Scenically, the Cairngorms National Park is as pretty as a picture, with the heather a vivid purple, many trees full of brightly coloured berries and a few with leaves turning their autumnal golds and coppers.

Wildlife highlights included:

Local speciality bird species seen during this month included: Osprey (early month only), Crested Tit, Crossbill, Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Dipper, Golden Eagle...

A few of our local juvenile Ospreys lingered in the area (see pic), giving us our last chances for this year to witness them plunge-diving for fish, though by mid-month the nests were empty, and will now remain so until late March........

Red Grouse continued to be seen in good numbers on our local heather moorlands, though as it  is still shooting season, they were still a little edgy and less confiding on the managed estates...(see pic)

The winter flocks continued to grow in our local forests, with some containing 50+ birds of 7 or more species , with a fair level of fieldcraft and patience being required to pick out the few Crested Tits amongst them.. though a few obliging Cresties continued to visit forest feeding stations, making life a little easier! (see pic)

Crossbills were also seen on several occasions in suitable coniferous forests, though most sightings were of the rather frustrating 'fly-over' variety, with identification being made by their 'glip glip' calls..

Black Grouse could occasionally be seen at dawn at or near traditional 'lek' sites, though they were not totally reliable, with colder mornings proving more successful...

Golden Eagle was noted on a few occasions in secluded upland glens, and this species, along with the other raptors, is a group of birds that actually become more likely to be seen as winter approaches. As the days grow shorter, they have less available hunting time, so our chance of seeing them increases...

Dippers are seen regularly on our local rivers, and autumn sees them starting to become territorial, with much aggressive posturing and chasing around going on....(see pic)

The end of September usually sees the start of the Red Deer rut, with the stags beginning to 'check-out' the hinds, sharpen up the tips of their antlers on rocks and trees, and partake in a little gentle 'sparring' with likely rivals, all accompanied by a tremendous 'roaring', which echoes round the glens... a marvellously atmospheric spectacle....

Still up in the glens, our Mountain Hares are turning noticeably whiter, from their feet upwards, as autumn progresses, in preparation for the snow to come....

A Kingfisher was an unusual sighting on a local loch, with the species being only rarely reported in this area, and generally on the rivers and at lower altitudes...

A Waxwing up near Inverness late in the month was a very early report of this 'irruptive' species, with the usual first sightings occurring in November...

So, although it is probably fair to say that September is a 'transitional' month, and can be a bit hit and miss where migratory birds are concerned, we still have plenty of endemic local speciality bird species to entertain us, and of course, our mammal species , being non-migratory, can usually be relied upon to provide some good sightings....whilst the beautiful Highland scenery gives us a last splash of colour before winter comes....