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, May 16, 2009

Early may 2009 saw us , generally, enjoy proper Spring weather, though it could still be frosty overnight, and we did wake up to a light dusting of fresh snow on the hills a few times - so my safari clients were advised to dress for all 4 seasons in one day!

With more Summer species arriving , we saw bird day-lists hit the 60 mark for the first time this year, whilst mammal day-lists ranged between 6&9.

Wildlife highlights included:

Regular dawn sightings of Capercaillie at RSPB Loch Garten - the males still seemed to be 'lekking' - though not as aggressively as in late April.

Good early morning views of 'lekking' Black Grouse - though they too seem to have calmed-down a little lately.

A dawn encounter with an Otter, seen fishing on the River Spey - a great way to start the day.

An unbelievably close view of a beautiful Golden Plover on our local heather moorland (see pic).

Regular mountainside encounters with Ring Ouzels - the male birds looking very dapper with their white crescent moon chest markings & silvery wings.

On our seclude local lochans we had regular sightings of Black-Throated Diver, Red-Throated Diver & Slavonian grebe, all looking superb in their striking summer plumage.

Our local female Ospreys all seem to be incubating eggs, but we sometimes got lucky & witnessed the males either plunging in to the water to catch a fish , or delivering fish to the waiting female - both sights being thoroughly enjoyed by my clients & myself.

More year ticks! - Redstart, Cuckoo & Swift were noted for the first time this year.

Walks in our local Caledonian pine forests gave us regular views of Crossbills, though Crested Tits became more difficult, as we only had the males to see as the females must be on eggs.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

April 2009 saw Springtime finally hit this part of the world, with, apart from a few frosts at the start of the month, the weather generally warmer & sunnier. With most of the Winter visitors now gone and many of the Summer visitors arriving, bird day-lists crept up into the 50's, with mammal day-lists ranging between 6-9 depending on our luck.

Wildlife highlights included:

Good views of one of Britain's rarest & most impressive species, the magnificent Capercaillie at the RSPB's excellent early-morning caper-watch hide at their beautiful Loch Garten reserve (open April1-May20 5:30-8am). Seeing these huge Grouse 'lekking' with their huge tails fanned is surely a 'must-see' for any real birder.

The first 'fledglings' of the year being seen - namely Mallard chicks, closely followed by Blackbirds.

Nesting Ospreys appear to be on eggs - the female doing most of the incubating, whilst the male brings her fish, the male only incubating whilst she feeds or exercises her wings.

The Black Grouse 'lek' also peaks in mid-late April - like the Capercaillie, seeing their bizarre strutting, jumping dances accompanied by strange bubbling, whooshing calls is an amazing spectacle, and highly recommended.

Year ticks! Whether it be the first flash of a Wheatear's white rump, the first hirundines (Martins & Swallows) seen catching insects over the River Spey, or hearing the Willow Warbler's uplifting whistling song from the top of a silver birch - these are actually much more than just mere 'ticks' , they are signs that Winter is over & Spring is here!

Black-Throated Divers (see pic), Red-Throated Divers and Slavonian Grebes are now back on territory and in their splendid Summer breeding plumage - these are all very rare breeding birds in the UK and very welcome & attractive additions to our day-list.

Walks in the Caledonian forests produced frequent sighting of both Crested Tits & Scottish Crossbills, though it should be noted that knowing their calls is very important in locating them.