November in the Cairngorms

View towards Cairngorm Mountain from Loch Morlich (Kate M)

The last of the leaves have fallen after a hard frost, snow has made an appearance and Winter is full motion in the Cairngorms. November can be dark and wet, where the sun barely makes it over the horizon, but wildlife is still active and often need our help to cope with this changing month.

Hairy ice (Kate M)
Appearance of feathers ‘Hairy Ice’ (Kate M)

If you’re out a walk in the more northerly parts of the country, you may come across a fascinating sight. This unusual looking act of nature could be mistaken for a piece of animal fur or hair. It comes from a fungus – Exidiopsis Effuse – but is more commonly known as ‘Hairy Ice.’ It forms on certain deadwood on winter nights that are humid often found on road verges. It looks like a feather but once you touch it, the flakes will simply disappear. So, the next time you are out on a morning walk, look out for this fascinating fungus.

Pine Marten footprints in the snow (Kate M)

With a sprinkling on snow earlier in the month, it was easy to see what animal movements had been happening. On the doorstep or a walk in the woods, you can find pints from birds to mammals including some animals you didn’t even know came to your garden during the night. If out a walk when there is snow in your area, see how many tracks you can find and identify them.

Waxwing (Kate M)

With returning birds coming from Scandinavia and Iceland for the winter, our guides are always on the look out for the sightings we enjoy seeing each winter. The Waxwing is especially exciting to see as they can return in large numbers to feed on berries in the winter trees. Recently a flock of around one hundred and fifty were seen feeding from a specific tree. Waxwing come to Scotland in the winter as food in Scandinavia is limited, but our trees such as rowan are full of nutrition for them.

Coal Tit on the hand (kate M)
Crested Tit (Kate M)

As some of you may have seen on BBC Springwatch or WInterwatch this year, the Cairngorms is a great place to look out for Crested Tit. This small bird often relies on food left out by humans during the cold winter months. Typically, they are shy birds staying in the depths of the forests, but if you’re lucky you will see them in with the Coal Tits that are not shy of bird feeders or people. The Abernethy forest hold the boldest of Coal Tits, hopping down to people’s hands for some bird seed. If you’re visiting the area or book a day guide with us.