Friday, 8 July 2016

Speyside 1

Recently we sent a week in Speyside, just north of Aviemore. This was the first time we had visited the area since 1983 but became well acquainted with the area in the 1970's visiting several times at different times of year.

It was good to get back to Loch Garten to see the nesting Osprey. The male had already dropped a fish off about 2 hours before my arrival and normally wouldn't be back until mid afternoon. The CCTV revealed young in the nest which was good. It was also sad to hear that an Osprey had been killed when it hit a wind turbine just a few miles north.

The area was more or less the same although the Aviemore had expanded north with new housing. Coming down from Shetland the first thing you notice is the massive amount of trees of varying ages. I do like walking through the ancient Caledonian Forests of Rothiemurchus and Abernethy, there is an expectation of something unusual turning up.

                                                                                           Young Long Tailed Tit

Speyside was alive with the song of Willow warbler, which seem to be very numerous, unlike Chiffchaff which could only be found in small numbers. Siskin , a striking green and black finch was also numerous both in the forest and in gardens.


The chance of seeing Capercaille are now remote even in favoured areas, unlike the 1970's when we saw several birds on each trip.


 With lots of Chaffinch, a few Redstart, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Spotted Flycatcher, Gt and Blue Tit, Cuckoo and Blackbird most of the Forests seemed very quiet.

                                                                                                            Red Deer

It also surprised me that we failed to see a Kestrel, only a handful of Buzzard , but did have three Osprey sightings away from Loch Garten RSPB nest site and one Hen Harrier,  Peregrine and one Golden Eagle north of Aviemore.

                                                                                                Young Greylag

The weather was good throughout the week but although the tops of the Cairngorms looked inviting I didn't think my legs could last the 2.5 hour walk up onto the top. The new mountain railway is an option to get up but you are only allowed out of the upper station if you go on a guided walk, which cost £20 each + cost of train, generally taking you away from the birds such as Dotterel, Ptarmigan and Snow Bunting

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