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WELCOME TO THE SPEYSIDE WILDLIFE BLOG

Including our Evening Mammal Hide reports, seasonal updates and holiday trip reports.

 

February in the Cairngorms

February in the Cairngorms has been a month of extreme lows and highs. We have had lows of -19c on the northern side of the National Park, with record temperatures of -23c in Braemar. A week later the thaw of snow began, causing the rivers to burst their banks and temperature rose to 10c. Insh Marshes has lived up to its name, with frozen lochans in the previous blog turning into a loch, bringing in the returning waders like Lapwing and Oystercatcher. Insh Marshes after the t

Badgers becoming active at the Wildlife Hide

Is spring in the air at the evening wildlife hide? We are coming to the end of the February and the animal’s behaviour begins to change. Since the last blog we had the coldest night, with temperatures in the area down to -19 degrees Celsius. Not surprisingly, the animals were quiet as they stayed warm in their homes and finding any food was hard with the ground being frozen solid. There has been a sudden thaw though and there are a few signs of spring. Ice on the hide window

Snow Continues at the Wildlife Hide

As snow still falls here in the Cairngorms, we cannot help but think about spring days when we can hopefully welcome you back to the wildlife hide. Although wildlife is quiet, changes are happening in their behaviour and lives as they prepare their homes for new family members in the spring. Underground, Badgers will be preparing their sett chambers soon with new bedding and female Pine Martens will be looking for natal dens. Daylight hours have been notably increased over th

January in the Cairngorms

Temperatures in the Cairngorms this month have barely got above zero degrees Celsius, looking set to remain through February. Along with temperatures, the snow has turned our landscape into a winter wonderland as winter really takes hold in the Cairngorms National Park. With thermals on, exploring our local patch has been breath-taking but very cold. (Top) Otter tracks on the frozen loch and in he snow (bottom) Badger prints and Pheasant wing marks Most wildlife has been keep

Hibernation

Hibernation is generally described as a long deep sleep, where animals will slow their metabolism and activity to sleep through the winter months and survive the cold weather. Overwintering or dormancy is a similar phrase, meaning that the animals will wake up for food during the milder times before spring, and we’ll explore that in this blog. The hedgehog is the most known mammal in the UK to hibernate. As their food source is greatly reduced during the cold winter months, t

December in the Cairngorms

December days are short, so it is good to make the most of the daylight hours and fresh air to go wildlife watching. Although we have been staying to closer to home, watching birds in the garden, short walks close to home have been beneficial to get out of the house. We had some calm weather with frost and snowfall to end the year, making for some gorgeous scenes and interesting things to look out for in December. Coast Waders (Lapwing, Oystercatchers, Curlew) Before current

Footprints in the Snow

There is nothing quite like waking up to a blanket of snow that has fallen overnight. The dull browns of the winter countryside are now shining and bright white. Watching wildlife in the winter can be harder with short daylight hours, birds calling less and weather not always on our side. However, wildlife is still around although we can’t always see it. Unless you see them in mud or sand, animal footprints can be hard to find but exciting to know what animals are in your gar

Mountain Hare – Importance of Camouflage

There are many birds and mammals that attract people to the Highlands and the Cairngorms National Park at all times of the year. In the winter, many of our moorland animals will move down from the high hilltops for food and shelter from the winter winds higher up the mountains. Some mammals have a clever adaptation to blend into the wintery hillsides like the Ptarmigan and Mountain Hare. Summer Mountain Hare in heather (Kate M) The Mountain Hare (lepus timidus) is a favourite

Autumn Wildlife to Look Out For

This is a unique time of year when we see the movement of birds on migration. The new season arrives, and we start to spot some interesting birds arrive or pass by the British Isles. Long summer days with singing breeding birds is replaced by wild weather and cold winds that bring in a variety of winter visitors that we can look out for. Here we explore some of the species found in the Cairngorms or surrounding areas and what makes them fantastic winter visitors to look out f

February in the Cairngorms

Winter has finally taken hold in the Cairngorms National Park this February, bringing us snow to the mountains and surrounding areas. Waking up to snow stuck to tree branches and even moments of sunshine to show off our landscape. In between the snow however, we have seen water levels, especially in the River Spey very high, with neighbouring fields turning to flood plains. Hopefully the snow will stick to the mountains and wildlife such as the Ptarmigan and Snow Bunting will

Winter Wildlife on the Coast

There is no doubt that the Cairngorms National Park has great wildlife all year round. In the winter, species are generally quieter so the coasts around Britain offer a wide variety of species that stay on the milder coasts for the season. From the Cairngorms, our closest coastline is the Moray Firth or the Black Isle. In an hour, you can arrive on this varied coastline and visit many estuaries, harbours and beaches. Wildlife on the coast Mudflats and estuaries fill up with w

How to Help your Garden Wildlife this Winter

With the cooler weather in the winter months, it is important to think of the wildlife that are active throughout this time. Birds especially can rely on our gardens as a place where they can get food, which can be hard to find when the ground is frozen. Here in the Cairngorms, Winters can be six months long, so there are a few simple things that we can do to ensure our wildlife makes it through these often–tough months. Redwing Before Winter arrives, there are things you can

Black Grouse Lekking – the Greatest Show!

Black Grouse, or Black Cock, with their distinctive red eyebrows, blue-black feathers and an impressive white tail that forms a fan when lekking, are a species that certainly put on a show. The females or ‘Greyhens’, are speckled brown with a white underwing to camouflage with their surroundings. Black Cock in Flight (Steve Cullum) Black Grouse numbers have been dropping over the past century but are protected by law during lekking season when breeding is taking place. Black

Winter Preparations at the Hide

After the busy Summer season at the Wildlife Hide, things have taking a slower approach. The evenings are at their darkest and the wildlife are preparing for the Winter ahead, whatever weather it may bring. Tawny Owl watching over the Hide (KateM) The Mice, Deer and Tawny Owls have been active around the hide, with the Deer rutting and Tawny Owls becoming more vocal. The Tawny Owls are very active in November as they fight to keep their territories, flying and calling through