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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September 2015 was actually (at last!!) not a bad month weather-wise in this area, being drier and sunnier than most of the months preceding it, and the winds were generally light.
The days are shortening noticeably now though, with only around 12 hours of usable daylight , but by way of compensation, the heather is still a lovely purple, many trees are full of colourful berries, and the leaves and ferns are starting to change into their attractive autumnal hues.....
I was away in southern England visiting relatives and friends for a good part of the month, so my report will be shorter than usual, and will contain some general observations and pictures from previous Septembers.....
With all the summer visiting bird species gone by mid-month, and the winter visiting bird species not yet arrived, bird day-lists dropped down to their lowest levels of the year (in the 30's), whilst mammal day list varied between 5 and 9 species, depending on the time of our start and the number of different habitats visited.

Early autumn on a local moorland

Wildlife highlights included:

Local speciality bird species seen regularly during the month included: Osprey (first week only), Dipper, Red Grouse, Crested Tit and Goldeneye, with a solitary view of a Goshawk, and one memorable sighting of a Golden Eagle....

Mammal species seen regularly included: Red Squirrel, Red Deer, Reindeer, Roe Deer, Mountain Goat and Rabbit......


Osprey
A few of our local Ospreys lingered around their now redundant nest sites for a few days early in the month, giving us our last chance to admire these impressive raptors and their fishing skills, until they return in the spring.......

Red Grouse
The Red Grouse on the upland moors, many still in large family groups, continued to entertain my safari clients, though they still seem a little wary of humans...but by using my vehicle as a mobile hide, we were often able to get some decent photographic opportunities...

Goshawk
The same moorland site also gave us good views of a Goshawk on the 4th. This impressive, and usually very elusive bird of prey was seen flying around, chasing Red Grouse, and perching on shooting butt marker posts, giving me a rare chance of a photograph.....

Crested Tit
Crested Tit is always high on my safari clients 'wish-lists', and although they are now mainly to be found in mixed flocks roaming around the Caledonian pine forests, we also managed to get some decent views of them at my feeding stations, especially soon after first light ...

Dipper
The Dippers on our local rivers began to be seen a little more regularly, and appeared to be getting a little territorial, with some singing heard, and aggressive behaviour being witnessed near to prime nest sites, especially at first light...

Common Buzzard

Golden Eagles are probably more commonly seen on my safaris during the short days of winter, when they have less hours of daylight in which to hunt, but a safari on the 4th saw us enjoy fairly close views of a sub-adult bird  'herding' a group of Red Deer hinds towards a precipitous cliff edge in a local upland glen, presumably in the hope that one or more would fall to their death, and provide it with venison for the next week or more! An amazing spectacle, and a life first for my safari clients!! Raptors in general seemed to be pretty active throughout the month with us seeing Peregrine, Red Kite, Common Buzzard, and Kestrel regularly as well...


Onto mammals now....

Red Squirrel

As I mentioned last month, with the summer visiting local speciality birds departing this area, mammals become more of a focus on my safaris, and we were fortunate to see a good variety again this month. The  'mammal of the day' award was invariably won by the Red Squirrel - with many of my safari clients seeing these these very characterful and attractive 'Highland speciality' animals for the first time..

Red Deer
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 marvelously atmospheric spectacle....

Still up in the glens, our Mountain Hares, though still in their browny-grey summer coats are gradually turning whiter, from their feet upwards, as autumn progresses, in preparation for the snow to come....

So despite my absence for much of it, September 2015 actually turned out to be a pretty good month for wildlife watching in this area with some very memorable and enjoyable experiences, all in spectacular scenery, and with the winter visiting birds due to arrive, and the Red Deer rut looming, I am already looking forward to October....

River Spey looking very atmospheric....