September is a month of change, a change in colour, a change in weather and a change in wildlife. The Cairngorms National Park has so many nooks and crannies to explore, pairing that with cooler weather, plentiful supply of berries ripening and fungus sprouting, it can make for a wonderful day of wildlife watching.
Blackberries are being picked off by hungry mammals and birds (as well as the odd bird watcher). Goldfinch and linnets keep hedgerows bustling and noisy. Rowan trees are dropping with heavy loads and will slowly be stripped, this is a particular favourite of thrushes. Other berries in season such as Blaeberry and Rosehip add to the harvest.
I’ve slowly started to see fungus poking their fruiting bodies through the soil. September in Speyside can be damp although still warm, making great conditions for fungus. Mammals such as mice and our resident Red Squirrel feast on mushrooms, when on our Guided Days Out, we often see the leftovers and gnaw marks left. Mushrooms provide a great source of nutrition for these critters, fuelling them for their upcoming collection of nuts for hibernation.
Some have even started hoarding and with less leaves on the trees and a bit more light onto the ground, it can be a great time to look out for them, including stoats and weasels, looking for an unsuspecting mouse. The area of Speyside has a great array of colours on the trees in September, with our Birch tree’s going a rusty yellow, Chestnuts and Cherry trees turning red, and our forests of evergreen conifers, provide a nice backdrop of colour in many of our expansive views.
Finally, another thing to look for in September is a little bit bittersweet, is the preparation of bird migrating back south for winter. Although we know they will be back in spring, it’s sometimes sad to see them go. Although, our rich number of berries, fish and insects provide all the energy needed for a long trip home. Species to look out for on one of our Guided Days Out include Spotted Fly Catchers, Ospreys, Swallows and House Martins.