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  • Writer's pictureAilie Brown

Spring in Speyside

Things to look and listen for during Spring in Speyside…

I’ve had the pleasure recently during our Guided Days Out in the Cairngorms National Park, of watching lots of displaying birds, Meadow Pipits parachuting, Skylarks singing high above the fields, Redpolls trilling, Ospreys gathering sticks and Black Grouse lekking. Birds such as Long tailed Tits and Blackbirds have started building their nests, some may be even sitting on eggs. But many birds like Blue Tits and Wrens will seek out several nest sites. Over the next few weeks, it will be prime time viewing of nest building in our gardens and woodlands.

Spring flowers are appearing with the lovely spells of sunshine and warmer weather we are experiencing.

Primroses, with creamy yellow petals growing on a woodland floor.
Primroses are a sure sign spring has arrived (Ailie Brown)

Lesser Celandine is a bright yellow star shaped flower that stands out against the woodland floor. This cheerful flower is one of the first to flower and provides an important nectar source for Queen Bumble Bees and butterflies that have come out of hibernation.

A wood anenome flower on a woodland floor.
Wood anemone is an indicator of an old woodland (Ailie Brown)

Wood Anemone is a firm favourite of mine, appearing with the Spring winds in ancient woodlands, this gentle flower enjoys the sunshine before the trees unfurl their leaves. Named after the Greek God of Wind, Anemos, he sends the flowers ahead of him in spring.

Early in May, we will hold out for the familiar call of the Cuckoo. Just before they arrive, the aptly named Cuckooflowers appear on riverbanks and damp meadows. If you look closely enough at the stems of these flowers, you may be lucky enough to spot the small orange eggs of Orange-tip butterflies.

The cuckooflower growing in a field.
Cuckoo flowers are a food plant of the Orange-tip butterflies (Ailie Brown)

These butterflies have increased their range north and are now a regular sight in Speyside. Overwintering as a chrysalis, they are one of the earlier butterflies to appear. Other butterflies to look out for in spring are the Peacock and the Small Tortoiseshell, both hardy little species hibernate as an adult over the winter, so you may notice some of them look a bit ragged and not as bright as the butterflies you will spot over the summer.

Male Orange-tip butterfly sitting on top of a wall flower.
The first Orange-tip butterfly of the year, I spotted in my garden (Ailie Brown)

Dawn chorus is on May 1 this year although most mornings between the end of April and the end of May, you will hear songbirds from the first daylight. The reason for this is because only the fittest of birds will sing early in the morning, on an empty stomach and after a chilly Spring night. Robins and Blackbirds are the first birds you normally hear.

Newer sounds are being heard on our Guided Day’s Out and our local guides are keeping up to date with new arrivals. Willow Warblers, Sand Martins and Chiffchaffs are now seen and heard abundantly. Although we are all patiently waiting for Redstarts, Black Caps, Cuckoos, Swallows and House Martins. So more still to look forward to over the next few weeks of spring.

Landscape view of the Cairngorms Mountains, surrounded by trees.
One of many great views, of the Cairngorms National Park (Ailie Brown)

It’s a beautiful and exciting time of year. Everything is waking up and becoming more active, it’s a really great season to do one of our Guided Days out or visit or Evening Mammal Watching Hide.

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