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

Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Happy New Year to all our readers! May you have a wildlife-tastic 2009!

January 2009 started very cold up here with plenty of snow & temperatures down to -11c but got less cold as the month went on, and finished with an unseasonably mild spell, and the days began to grow noticeably longer.

Wildlife highlights included:

Good views of Red Grouse on the moorland - the males already becoming very vocal, their guttural 'go-bak, go-bak' calls livening up the otherwise near-silent moors. (see pic)

Super views of a juvenile Golden Eagle hunting low over heather moorland just before dusk, presumably on the look-out for a Red Grouse or a Mountain Hare, it's white tail-base & wing patches showed up well in the low light as it changed direction.

A dawn encounter with a Stoat in it's beautiful pure white winter coat on the banks of the River Spey. It appeared to be manically searching bankside holes for small mammals.

Good, close up views of Red Deer in a beautiful Highland glen - Winter often gives us our best views of these impressive animals as they get driven down off the hills by bad weather.

Waxwings - several small flocks of these gorgeous winter visitors lingered in our area, with 3 seen just outside my garden on the 24th.

Early signs of Winter's end & Spring's arrival were also evident:

Blackbirds & Thrushes began to join the Robins in a (very weak) dawn chorus.

The first Lapwings were seen alongside the River Spey.

Common Buzzards were seen to be displaying.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

December started & ended cold with a brief mild spell in the middle of the month with less snow than last month, and sadly, very little over the Christmas period. Though the days are now at their shortest, there is still plenty to see.

Wildlife highlights included:

A brief glimpse of a Stoat chasing Rabbits on a roadside verge, looking splendid in its pure white winter coat with just the tip of the tail remaining dark.

Another animal that changes colour to white in winter is the Mountain hare, and these are quite easy to find on the hills - as long as there is not too much snow!

Snow Buntings were seen on a few occasions near the Cairngorms Ski centre car park, they appear to be driven down from the mountain tops by bad weather & heavy snowfall (see pic).

Ravens were seen to be displaying - wheeling around acrobatically whilst uttering their coarse "gronk-gronk" calls

Woodcocks were seen on a few occasions, usually over woodlands at dusk.

Waxwings were still in the area, often being seen around local villages, usually feeding on berry bushes.

The number of male Black grouse at traditional lek sites was seen to increase, with up to 5 seen at a time - numbers should continue to grow as the lekking season approaches.

One sad thing to report: One of the River Spey Otters was unfortunately found dead, killed whilst attempting to cross a road near the river. With no real predators, this is the biggest cause of premature death to the UK's Otters.