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

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A happy new year to all our readers - wishing you a wildlife filled 2010!

January 2010 will probably be remembered more for the extreme weather we experienced than for the wildlife sightings. We had our coldest & snowiest January since records began, with the snow measured in feet rather than inches, and temperatures seemingly permanently below zero, this made getting to remote areas for wildlife watching almost impossible, so most watching was done from roadside verges, though we did get a gradual thaw towards the end of the month.

Wildlife highlights included:

Several sightings of pure white Stoats chasing rabbits, and some being spotted eating roadkill.

More 'countryside' birds being seen in my garden, with Pheasant being added to to the list of other garden rarities such as Brambling, Yellowhammer and Bullfinch.

Dippers were heard to be singing from exposed rocks along the River Spey, they are about the only species that make the effort at this time of year.

Huge flocks of mixed Buntings & Finches were noted on farmland, taking advantage of extra food put out for cattle.

Several after-dark sightings of Pine Marten from a baited site, always a treat, as it is one of Britain's rarest and hardest to see mammals.

The Moray coast played host to a number of rare species throughout the month, namely, Little Bunting, King Eider, Smew, & Iceland & Glaucous Gulls.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

December 2009 started cold , then got colder still!, with temperatures as low as -16c and lots of snow at the end of the month - great for snowsports enthusiasts & very picturesque - but not great for getting around! The days are very short up here in December, with barely 7 hours of daylight. There is however, still plenty of wildlife to see, for those hardy enough to venture out. Bird day- lists remain in the 30's, and mammal list were steady at 5-9 depending on our luck.

Wildlife highlights included:

One 'plus' of the severe winter weather is that, as natural food becomes scarce, it tends to drive less common bird species into the gardens of those who put food (& water) out for them - so far I have had visits from 'garden rarities' such as Yellowhammers, Bullfinches, Redwings, Fieldfares & Bramblings (see pic). Numbers of more common garden visitors are also greatly increased and I think that it is really important for as many of us as possible to help our garden birds during the winter.

Local speciality bird species such as Dipper, Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Crested Tit, Red Deer , Red Squirrel, Mountain Hare etc continued to show well.

Winter wildfowl such as Whooper Swans, Greylag Geese, Teal, Wigeon etc showed well on local lochs & rivers early in the month, but the 'big freeze' at the end of the month saw them become harder to find.

Large mixed flocks of assorted finches & buntings were noted feeding in fields, taking advantage of the food put out for cattle and game birds.

Raptor sighting are easier and more numerous at this time of year, probably because they only have a limited amount of time for daylight hunting, especially when compared to mid-summer, when they have 20+ hours of opportunity.

A very close encounter with a marauding Sparrowhawk, which tried to catch a Chaffinch off my birdfeeding table whilst I was filling up a nearby feeder.