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

Monday, November 04, 2013

October 2013 was a generally windy month in this area, with temperatures starting at the mild end of the scale, but dropping throughout the month, and ending up with a wintry feel to things, with the first frosts and proper snow on the mountain tops. Inward migration from further north was in full swing , with the incoming Geese, Thrushes, Swans and wildfowl pushing our bird species day-lists up into the high 30's and low 40's, whilst our mammal day-lists varied between 5-9 species depending on our luck. The beautiful autumn colours are at their best now, but the days are getting noticeably shorter, with only around 11 hours of daylight, and autumn is definitely turning into winter.

Wildlife highlights included:

Local speciality bird species seen this month included Crested Tit, Crossbill, Black Grouse, Red Grouse, Dipper, Golden Eagle, 'Grey' Geese, Whooper Swan...

Mammals seen this month included Red Deer, Roe Deer, Reindeer, Red Squirrel, Mountain Goat, Brown Hare, Mountain Hare, RabbitBank Vole, Stoat,  Atlantic Salmon...

Red Deer stags 'rutting'. October is THE month for witnessing this annual 'must see' event on the British wildlife calendar, with the magnificent fully-antlered stags rounding up their 'harems' of hinds, protecting them from other rival stags with much roaring, aggressive posturing and occasional actual combat, whilst attempting to mate with as many of them as possible...(see pic)

Winter Thrushes poured in from the north throughout the month, first, the 'seep seep' calls overhead alerted us to the Redwings arriving, shortly followed by the 'chack chack' of the Fieldfares. Both species then proceeded to pillage our local berry bushes, much to the annoyance of our resident Blackbirds and Thrushes! (see pic)

Grey Geese flooded into our area too, mainly Greylags (see pic) but Pink-footed were noted too, with large flocks feeding hard in local stubble fields.

Whooper Swans began to appear on our local lochs from early in the month, their amazing 'trumpeting' calls announcing their presence, as they circled before landing. They will stay now until spring, taking advantage of our 'relatively' mild winter conditions.

Crested Tits were seen regularly at and around feeding stations in our local Caledonian pine forests, though they are greatly outnumbered by the more common tit species and are usually frustratingly flitty, rarely remaining still for long, making photography very difficult, though I was fortunate to manage a few half decent shots (see pic)

Golden Eagle is a species which actually becomes more likely to be seen as the days shorten, and their available hunting time decreases, and , true to form, we were lucky enough to have several decent sightings of these magnificent birds hunting along the ridges of a local upland glen - magic!

Red Grouse showed well on a number of occasions on our local moorlands, mainly still in family groups, though a few cock birds appeared to be getting a little territorial, calling and displaying from higher parts of the moor.

Black Grouse were seen at dawn on a few occasions, though only on cold, still mornings, which were very few and far between...

Crossbills were again a bit frustrating, with us getting fly-over flocks on many occasions, their 'glip glip' calls identifying them, though good sightings were again very seldom achieved..

Dippers were seen frequently, and are always a popular bird with most of my safari clients, probably because they are absent from much of the country's urban  and lowland waterways, favouring the faster flowing clear waters of upland rivers..

Salmon began to make there way up our local rivers towards their spawning grounds, though the lack of water hampered their progress, until some heavy rains at the end of the month raised the levels enough to allow them access to the upper reaches (see pic)

When birders talk of 'winter flocks', most would think of groups of Tits, Goldcrests and Treecreepers in woodlands, but we also see huge mixed flocks of Finches and Bramblings on our local farmland, and Siskins and Redpolls in our riverside trees...

So, to summarise, Thanks mainly to the miracle of migration, October is an excellent month for bird watching in this area, and add in the Red Deer rut, the magnificent autumn colours and some half decent weather, I can wholeheartedly recommend a visit......

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