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, July 31, 2011

July 2011 was, in keeping with the last two months, again, very changeable weather-wise, though we did manage to complete the month without a frost, with temperatures generally cooler than average. Despite the days shortening slightly, there were still 19-20 hours of daylight available for wildlife watching and still plenty to see.
Despite many of our wader species noticeably departing the area for coastal regions, we still saw bird day-list into the 50's, though we have now had our highest lists of the year. Mammal day-list remained steady at 6-10 depending on our luck.

Wildlife highlights included:

Osprey action! our local birds continued to put smiles on our faces with us enjoying seeing the birds plunge-diving to catch fish, delivering fish to the nests, eating the fish, and watching the youngsters learning to fly & fish for the first time - great stuff!

Close-up views of up to 7 Red Squirrels together at once at favoured feeding sites - a real treat for my safari clients from outside this area, many of whom had never seen our charming native species before.

Mammals! our early starts gave us many close-up sightings of (usually) very shy species such as Fox, Roe Deer & Brown Hare along with other species such asRed Deer, Reindeer, Red Squirrel, Mountain Goat, Mountain Hare, Stoat and Bank Vole, though the local Otters proved elusive.

Sought after local speciality bird species that continued to show well included Crested Tit, Dipper, Osprey, Crossbill, Red Grouse, Ring Ouzel, Slavonian Grebe, Red-throated Diver and Black-Throated Diver, many with youngsters, though Black Grouse became noticeably more difficult as the month progressed.

Though they were generally quite difficult to find, we did manage one super sighting of not one , but two Golden Eagles in the air together, gliding majestically along a high ridge in a beautiful upland glen - magic!

Amazingly, within a few minutes of the above Eagles sighting, we were then treated to the amazing spectacle of a pair of Peregrine Falcons teaching their youngsters to hunt, at a sheer cliff face, accompanied by lots of enthusiastic calling - a marvellous wildlife experience!

Butterflies! July & August are our best months for them this far north with most of the common species being seen along with several sighting of our local speciality - the pretty brown & orange Mountain Argus.

Towards the end of the month I spent a very enjoyable day on the North-West coast at the Scottish Wildlife Trust's beautiful Handa Island reserve. As if the fantastic scenery, azure blue seas and unspoilt golden beaches were not enough - the close-up views (and photo opportunities) of Great & Arctic Skuas, Seals, Red-Throated & Black-Throated Divers (see pic), Gannets, and nesting colonies of Arctic Terns, Razorbills, Guillemots, and , everybody's favourites, Puffins make for a memorable and highly recommended day!

The end of July, is for me, always tinged with a little bit of sadness, as I know that the next month will see many of our summer visitors start to depart this area for warmer climes, not to return until next spring......but at least I can say I that my job gave me many opportunities to see & enjoy them while they were here - I love my job!

Friday, July 01, 2011

June 2011 was, again, a very changeable month weather-wise, with some cold days and even a light dusting of snow on the high tops early on, and pretty much every type of weather experienced at some stage, though temperatures were generally higher than those in May. With the days at their longest now, there really is virtually 24 hours a day of wildlife watching available, and with a 'full-set' of summer species here, bird day-list hit their highest totals of the year, with often over 60 different species being seen. Mammal day-lists too were impressive with up to 9 different species recorded.

Wildlife highlights included:

Our local Ospreys continued to delight us, with many sightings of them plunge-diving to catch a fish, delivering the fish to the nest, feeding the youngsters, and the rapidly-growing youngsters stretching & flapping their wings - great stuff!

June is the best time to brave the high tops for the 'mountain species' - with Dotterel, Ptarmigan & Snow Bunting all being reported - though it has to be said that you should only attempt this habitat in good conditions.

Our local speciality bird species ( Dipper, Goldeneye, Osprey, Red Grouse, Red -Throated Diver, Black-Throated Diver, Slavonian Grebe (see pic), Crested Tit, Crossbill, Ring Ouzel, etc) were all seen regularly, though sightings of Capercaillie, Black Grouse & Golden Eagle were much harder to come by.....

Cuckoos featured regularly on my safaris, with as many as 5 being seen on one day, though many of my guests tell me that they find them very hard to see elsewhere in the UK....

Crossbills were seen not just regularly, but spectacularly well on several occasions - not a common occurrence! - ask any wildlife guide, and they will tell you that Crossbills are one of the hardest species to get a really good view of!

Although Golden Eagle is generally harder to see in summer, we did have one marvellous sighting of a juvenile bird duelling with a Buzzard in a beautiful upland glen - magic!

A strange, writhing, rolling, 'ball of fur' in the middle of a busy A-road suddenly turned into a family of young Stoats!, who suddenly (& thankfully!) scattered when we approached - amazing!

An early morning close encounter with a beautifully marked Woodcock and her family of fluffy brown chicks on a quiet woodland track - a bird rarely seen that well.

The end of the month saw a rare vagrant settle in a nearby village on the edge of a forest - a superb (& singing) bright red summer-plumaged Common Rosefinch - a bird usually seen much further North & East in Europe, so a rare treat for us!

Our local speciality mammals deserve a mention, as we locals can tend to take them for granted a little - but we must remember that species such as Red Deer, Red Squirrel, Reindeer, Mountain Goat & Mountain Hare are not exactly common in most of the UK, and my safari clients are always pleased to see them.