It has been a month of early sunsets, woodland walks and time at home this November in the Cairngorms as winter creeps up on us. It has however been surprisingly mild with only a couple of frosty mornings and snow on the high tops. The last of the autumn leaves have clung onto the birch trees and with the low winter sun, there have been lovely colours of burnt orange across our landscapes.
A walk in early November took me to Insh Marshes reserve near Kingussie. If you have been here on a local holiday with Speyside Wildlife you may recognise this view. Mid-afternoon as the sun began to set behind the Monadhliath hills I watched Whooper Teal, Buzzard, Greylag geese over the marsh and Redwing flying overhead. A woodland walk to get out of the risk winter winds took me to Anagach woods, winding through the network of paths with little song apart from a mixed flock of Tits. The skies colours made the young scots pines silhouettes show well and round the next corner, a Red Squirrel enjoyed a final snack before it fell dark.
Quieter days at home can have its benefits, as our guide Simon found out when looking outside of his kitchen window one day.
“The Kingfisher appeared at the small loch beside my house in late October and is still present as I write this almost a month later. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw it from the kitchen window as I’ve lived in Speyside for over 22 years and only ever seen a handful of Kingfishers locally before with all of those being along the River Spey. Not surprisingly it’s a new bird for my garden list! It’s been feeding on Sticklebacks of which there seems to be an abundance. Being such a scare bird in Highland it’s been nice to show several of our neighbours their first ever Kingfisher.”
Driving along any country road it is always worth checking the fields for flocks of Fieldfare. Visiting from Scandinavia for the winter, these thrushes feed in large flocks in fields in search of worms, insects and fallen berries as their main food source here for the winter. You will often see them mixed with Mistle thrush and Redwing until March.
If you would like to find out about how you can spend a day out this winter with us or a winter break early next year, check our website for details.