September in the Cairngorms

September saw a huge difference in weather patterns, with storms over America, in the Cairngorms we got a combination of warm days before the wind and rain arrived. With the calmer weather the first of the seasons frosty nights began, meaning that the environment and behaviours of animals has changed.

Changing Scots Pine Needles (Kate M)

The first week of September had a very autumnal feel suddenly after storms had battered the trees. The bracken and birch trees always tend to be the first plants to show signs of autumn, with bracken turning multi colours of rust. Birch trees and the Scots Pine have developed yellow tips. Although a Scots Pine is an evergreen, they do shed needles in the Autumn just gradually and keep most of them. I have noticed a lot of yellowing on the tips this year, however.

Red Kite (Adam Moan)
Marsh Harrier (Through the scope) on the marsh (Kate M)

With recent trips out in the Cairngorms National Park over the month, I have come across a lot of Raptors gracing our skies. In the National Park you can see around eleven species of raptors, with others like Hobby and Marsh Harrier being occasional visitors. The last of the Osprey’s over a glen river and good numbers of breeding Red Kite in the top north edge of the national park. Good numbers of Peregrine and fantastic views of White-Tailed and Golden Eagles in the local glens. A surprise visitor to a local marsh, was a juvenile Marsh Harrier! A site known for Hen Harriers, this Marsh Harrier hung around for a couple of weeks, scanning the entire marsh for food.

Pink-Footed Geese resting in the field (Kate M)

As Autumn is getting into full swing, the change of the wildlife behaviour, like in the Spring is busy with movement and feeding, and you never know what you’re going to see in one day. The last of the Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler can be heard from the treetops whilst Pink-footed Geese arrive from Iceland overhead. The last of the Hirundine family gather before their return journey to Africa and groups of Fieldfare and Redwing begin to return and feed on Rowan berries.

Slow worm soaking up the heat (Kate M)

Trying to soak up the remaining heat, I have spotted a few Slow worms dangerously lying on roads and tracks. These legless lizards rely on the heat to keep them alive in the summer months to feed before they hibernate in the Winter. Roads soak up the het the most so risking their lives they will bask in the sunshine here.