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

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 2010 started cold, wet & windy &..... deteriorated from there really!, ending with massive snowfalls & temperatures well below zero, which made access to remote areas very difficult. With all the winter visitor birds now here, bird day lists remained at 30-40, with mammal day lists steady at 4-8.

Wildlife highlights included:

Most of the 'local speciality' species (Black grouse, Red Grouse, Dipper, Crested Tit, Crossbill, Goldeneye, Red Squirrel, Red Deer, Mountain Hare, Mountain Goat etc) continued to show regularly - weather permitting!

Good views of Whooper Swans on large local lochs, their mainly yellow bills & much straighter necks making i.d easy.

Close-up sightings (& good photo opportunities for a change!) of Crested Tits coming to bird feeders near suitable forest habitat.

Several decent views of Crossbills in local forests, including a rare opportunity to view one group through the scope for over 10 minutes.

Regular sightings of Golden Eagle in secluded upland glens - this is one species that is actually easier to see in Winter, as they only have a limited number of daylight hours & thermals in which to hunt.

Woodcocks. These normally very elusive crepuscular birds were spotted probing in the leaf litter at dawn & dusk on forest tracks on several occasions.

Black Grouse numbers increased further, with up to 4 males being seen at or near 'lek' sites on local moorlands.

Stoats were spotted eating roadkill on several occasions, their coats now almost totally white except for the black tail tip.

Also now almost totally white are the Mountain Hares, they were very conspicuous & easy to see on the snowless hills, until the snow came, now they are almost invisible! (see pic. courtesy of Greg Morgan)

A first sighting, in this area for me, of a Jay - they, along with Magpies & Nuthatches are very rarely, if ever, seen this far north.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

October 2010 was changeable weather-wise, starting unseasonably mild with temperatures into double figures, with a few frosts & bit of hill snow mid-month, but ending wet & windy. Autumn is possibly one of the most scenic times of year in this area , with the woods ablaze with beautiful coppers, golds, reds & yellows. Incoming winter birds boosted bird day-list up into the 40's, with mammal day-lists still steady at 5-9 depending on our luck.

Wildlife highlights included:

The Red Deer rut is always an October highlight, with these magnificent 'monarchs of the glen' guarding their 'harems' of hinds, with much roaring & strutting & occasional actual brutal antler to antler contact - awesome stuff - a 'must-see' of British wildlife!

Winter thrushes flooded into our area from further north, first the Redwings, their 'seep-seep' calls overhead betraying their presence, followed soon after by the larger Fieldfares. Not surprisingly, local berry crops were soon depleted!

Waxwings! The end of the month saw a huge influx of these beautiful berry-chomping 'viking invaders' a bird guaranteed to put a smile on your face, with their amazing colour scheme & confiding nature! (see pic)

Other winter visitors noted were good sized flocks of yellow-billed Whooper Swans on local lochs & the first Bramblings on farmland.

Otters were seen on several occasions on local loch & rivers, usually, and most typically, at dawn, though one obviously hadn't read the rule book, and showed well at midday!

Crested Tits began to visit bird feeders at venues near to forests, making it much easier to see them than wandering round a wood searching for them in roving tit flocks!

Golden eagle sightings became more frequent, as the birds now have less available hours of hunting time, with the first dry day after a couple of rainy days being particularly good.

Other 'local specialities' such as Dipper, Black Grouse & Red Grouse were seen regularly, though Capercaillie proved more elusive.