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

Friday, September 30, 2016

September 2016 was a really good 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 consolation, 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 a little shorter than usual, and will contain some general observations and pictures from previous Septembers.....
With just about all the summer visiting bird species gone by mid-month, and the winter visiting bird species not yet arrived, full-day bird lists dropped down to their lowest levels of the year (in the 30's), whilst mammal day lists varied between 4 and 8 species, depending on the time of our start and the number of different habitats visited, with early starts usually proving to be more fruitful...

Late summer in a beautiful upland glen
To give you an idea of what you may realistically hope to see if you are planning a future September visit, I hope the following more detailed information, illustrated with photos taken by myself or my safari clients will help........

Wildlife highlights included:

Local speciality bird species seen regularly during the month included: Osprey (first week only), Dipper, Red Grouse, Crested Tit and Goldeneye, and a couple of sightings of Golden Eagle....

Mammal species seen regularly included: Red Squirrel, Red Deer, Reindeer, Roe Deer, Mountain Goat and Rabbit......with just a couple of brief glimpses of Stoat and Bank Vole...

A few of our local Ospreys lingered around their now redundant nest sites and local lochs 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 family groups, continued to entertain my safari clients, but with it still being shooting season though, they - unsurprisingly - 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...

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 even appeared to be getting a little territorial, with some singing being heard, and aggressive behaviour being witnessed near to prime nest sites, especially at first light...

Kestrel
Golden Eagles are more commonly seen on my safaris during the short days of winter, when they have less hours of daylight in which to hunt, but we actually had a pretty good 'strike-rate' this month, with a favourite upland glen providing decent sightings on a number of occasions.
Raptors in general seemed to be pretty active throughout the month with us seeing Peregrine, Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk 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' and assemble their 'harems' of hinds, sharpen up the tips of their antlers on rocks and trees, and partake in a little light 'sparring' with likely rivals, often 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, though actual sightings of them were not as frequent, or as good as I would have liked...

Feral Mountain Goats
The same could be said about the feral Mountain Goats, as they only featured a couple of times, and our views were restricted to fairly distant sightings through the telescope...

Although not as physically impressive as their Red cousins, Roe Deer are probably more often described as cute, but always prove popular with my safari clients, and we were fortunate enough to see them on several occasions this month, especially soon after dawn....


Highland Cattle
Although not really a 'wild' animal, Highland Cattle always seem to be popular with my safari clients, and I am often asked to stop for photographs....

So despite my absence for much of it, while I was here, September 2016 was actually a pretty decent month for wildlife watching in this area with some very memorable and enjoyable experiences, all in spectacular scenery, and now, with my 'batteries recharged',  the winter visiting birds due to arrive soon, and the Red Deer rut looming, I am already looking forward to October....

Thistles in their prime