It has been a busy few months in Speyside; the spring quickly rolled into summer as many of our local and Scottish wildlife holidays went ahead with lots of great wildlife being seen. Here in Speyside, after a cold start to the season the sun began to shine and our breeding birds and mammals were busy.
Even with the cold weather, the summer migrants got a good start for their breeding period. Ospreys returned to the area and their nest sites, with one local pair successfully rearing three young chicks. The female will soon be returning to Africa, whilst the male and young gradually head south over the next month. We have also noticed a good number of smaller birds like Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher and Crested Tits rearing young, even finding a Crested Tit nest in a rotten tree trunk that was well camouflaged and safe. On a few of our local holidays in Speyside, we saw record numbers of Cuckoo through early summer, with four at one time lining up along a fence, catching caterpillars in the grass below. Cuckoo arrive here in April and by May are very active, but when June comes they fall silent like many the birds, and all you see of them in the later months are any juveniles before leaving to migrate back to Africa.
Our Guided Days Out have also been successful through the summer, with many people enjoying a day with one of our local and experienced guides to look for their target species and learn about the Cairngorms National Park. Often the excitement of seeing animals means we don’t away capture an image of them, but we do visit some spectacular scenery as we drive through the landscape.
With some very warm weather over recent weeks, this has helped wildflower meadows grow and insects like butterflies and dragonflies enjoy feeding. Our Wildlife Bonanza holiday in July allowed us to explore the flora and insect life of Speyside and we were not disappointed. The rare and delicate Twinflower carpeted the forest floors more than any other year - I think you will agree that they are stunning little flowers. We did well with finding lots of orchid species hidden in the heather, like the Lesser Twayblade, Lesser Wintergreen, Small White and Butterfly orchid. Butterflies were flying well in the warm weather too like the beautiful Pearl Bordered Fritillary, Ringlet, Small Heath and Common Blue. A day into the Cairngorms Corries had us searching to alpine species, which because of the altitude they are growing at, can sometimes be no bigger than a fingernail.
Our new guide in our Evening Mammal Hide Eve, has been giving us brilliant updates about the activity over the summer months. We have really enjoyed welcoming people back into our hides to enjoy nocturnal animals such as Badger and Pine Marten. The male cubs from last year have grown their own personalities within the clan and join the other adult Badgers each evening entertaining guests with their daily antics. A new female Badger has been getting the clan excited and even a new cub has been seen jumping about near the feeding area. Although as always the highlight of the hide so far this summer, has been regularly watching a couple of different Pine Martens as they sneak in through the treetops and feed close-by the hide for all to enjoy.
The long summer nights are beginning to fade as we head into August but there is still plenty to explore and look forward to over the next few months. Keep up to date with what Speyside Wildlife gets up to on our social media channels, and follow our blog for more updates.