February in the Cairngorms

With freezing temperatures at the beginning and temperatures of seventeen degrees by the end, February has felt like a jump into Spring. Birds and wildlife have been on the move, with garden birds starting to sing loudly from the tree tops.

Snow Bunting (Kate Mennie)
Snow Bunting (Kate Mennie)

With a lack of snow for the later part of February, mountain wildlife such as Ptarmigan and Mountain Hare have moved higher up. Snow Bunting stayed close to the car park of Cairngorms posing for the cameras at the picnic benches.

Waxwing (Kate Mennie)

Some winters, there is an irruption of the Waxwing in Scotland, as they search for food. Although not in huge numbers, there have been small flocks along the coast line and in the national park. They cleared most of the Rowan and Hawthorne at the end of last year and have been searching for other berries in the area in February. These striking looking birds with prominent crests have been happily feeding, and flycatching as the weather warmed up. They will soon begin to return to Scandinavia before their return next Winter.

Spot the Toad (KM)

Toads and Frogs have been emerging and moving around on paths to start their breeding season, camouflaged against the terrain and difficult to avoid when out a walk. But what is the difference between a frog and a toad?

It can sometimes be hard to identify between the two species but there are things to look for that can help. Common Toad tend to be an olive brown colour, with a ‘warty’ but dry appearance to their skin. If disturbed, they will either stay still in hope of not being squashed or they will crawl, whereas a frog will hop as far as it can!

Toad and Frog (Kate Mennie)

Common Frogs generally have a smooth, wet appearance to their skin, with long legs to help them hop! In Spring, spawn can be seen in calm shallow pools of water. Toads lay their eggs in long strings of spawn, whereas Frogs lay their spawn in jelly like clumps. If you see any spawn, please report your sightings here.

To explore the Cairngorms as we move from Winter into Spring, you can book a Day Guide with us, or join our Evening Mammal Hide.