Summer has finally arrived in the Cairngorms after what has been a long and cold Winter/Spring. With temperate of around twenty five degrees for the most of May, and the dry weather causing areas to have high or extreme fire risk visitors are urged not to light fires.
Birding has been great the past month, with all our migratory birds arriving to the area with the noise of the Swifts being the most recognisable. As they arrived from their long journey from South Africa where they winter, the chorus of loud streaking screams were heard over towns and villages in the area as they catch insects. The Swift spends most of its life in flight and noticeable by their thin curved T shaped wings and dark colouring often seen in large flocks in the evening times.
More of our summer migrants have been very vocal with great views also being had. Spotted and Pied Flycatchers both wintering in Africa, use holes in deciduous woodlands to nest in the Summer months. They are both very recognisable by their flitting and restless flight as they catch flies from a perch. The Spotted Flycatcher with its high pitch (almost chick like) “zee” and “see chuck” calls often continuous. The male Pied Flycatcher is a striking black and white, very vocal as it repeats a long melodious song with changing pitches throughout.
We also can’t forget the warbler family, with many of them being found in the area, from Blackcaps singing in countryside gardens to the woodland Wood Warblers frantic spinning song and the forever present sound of the Willow Warblers. May is the best month to really see and hear our migratory birds in full as they settle down for the Summer months to breed.
The often illusive but impressive Pine Marten is another great draw to the area. They are becoming more wide spread in Scotland and introduced to Wales and England where numbers are growing. At our Wildlife Hide, views can be regularly close and exciting for viewing guests. Pine Martens mainly hunt and feed at dusk and during the nights but also be seen during the day in the high tops of the tree, or if you just so happen to cross the path of one whilst out a walk. Pine Martens can give birth to up to five Kits, so it was exciting when we had a Kit make a very noisy appearance at our hide as it called out for mum. Hopefully it will thrive and help the Pine Marten population to grown further.