Spring in the Cairngorms

With only a few days of snow flurries, March into April has been reasonably mild in the Cairngorms, with daffodils making an early appearance and bird becoming very vocal. Some migrants like the Waxwing and Brambling are still being seen but frog spawn can be seen in many ponds and lochans.

Badger at Wildlife Hide (Kate Mennie)

The clocks have now changed and it’s officially Spring in the Cairngorms, although the temperatures haven’t quite warmed up, the sunshine is now getting stronger. The Badgers and Pine Martens at our Wildlife Hide are becoming much more active, with many Badgers dashing around the countryside and Pine Martens are starting to move and feed up for the breeding season. There are many changes in local woodlands that you can look out for over.

Larch Bud (Left) Aspen Catkins (Right) (Kate Mennie)

The tree buds are growing and in a months’ time these buds will burst and turn to a vibrant green colour in May. Just now the fruits of tree such as Larch are showing nicely. The Larch is an introduced tree to Britain and is the only Pine that loses its needles in the Autumn. Now, they are producing these beautiful female fruits, also known as ‘larch roses,’ that will eventually grow into brown cones, which are an important food source to many birds and Squirrels. The male bud (seen above the flower) grow into soft green needles that will harden in the Summer. It is lovely walking through the woods seeing these pink ‘larch roses’ on the branches, adding colour to the woodland.

Aspen Catkins (Muir of Dinnet NNR)

Another fascinating change that has happened to another tree, the Aspen has been making headlines. The Aspen have had a mass growth of catkins of both male and female catkins, which hasn’t happened since 1996. Some think this is due to the unusually warm summer we had last year, the same as what happened in 1995. Aspen enjoy the warmest of climates, so last summer was perfect for them.  The mass catkin growth will mean that the Aspen will be able to reproduce and pollinate in a natural way that will grow ‘new’ families of trees. A great place in Strathspey to see these tall trees, covered in rounded leaves that shake in the wind, is at RSPB’s Insh Marshes.

Osprey (James Stevens)

At the end of March, reports have been coming in of early arrivals of summer migrants. Osprey’s have been seen flying overhead in many areas of the Cairngorms, and back at the Rothiemurchus fishery. Other birds such as Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Sand Marten have been heard and seen and I am sure it won’t be long, with the mild weather that other such as Willow warbler and Swallow will soon be flying across the skies.

Why not get outside early in the morning to catch the morning chorus, or book a Day Guide with Speyside Wildlife to search for some of the great wildlife that call the Cairngorms their home this Spring.