Stepping outside our fabulous accommodation in Speyside at The Steading, you are instantly immersed in the sounds of Spring in the Cairngorms. Join us on our ‘Speyside 24/7’ holiday as Tree Pipits sing high, crossbills chirp amongst the pines and Ospreys call by the river. With a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, we are already in amongst one of the most beautiful places in the UK. This is a spectacular time of year for wildlife, with our first holiday in the ‘Steading’ schedule aiming to show 24 of the best birds and 7 of the best mammals!
Spoilt with the choice of montane, forest, loch, coastal, heath, and wetland habitat, we certainly have a plethora of locations to go. Being early spring, there are a lot of new arrivals to witness in the Cairngorms. Watch the first swallows arrive with their aerobatic displays. Each day growing numbers of Skylark can be heard with their powerful call. Ospreys start to pair up and we observe them going to and from a nest with offerings of fish from the Spey.
Following the river to the coast, witness flocks of waders feeding in the bay, Lapwings displaying and Dunlin run along the mudflats. Watch as they dramatically take to the skies as Peregrines make their speedy attack and White-tailed Eagles soar above. Moving around the coast, the rocky edges are a great place to see Otters coming out of the water and feeding on Flatfish. Then look out onto the open water and be amazed by large Bottlenose Dolphins coming close to the shore.
Spring in Speyside has a special atmosphere. Early butterflies such as Brimstone and Green-veined White are a welcome sign of warmer weathers to come. Slowly walking through the beautiful birch woodlands, other migrant birds can be heard singing. Wood Warblers with their fast, descending call and Willow Warblers sing with a bright melody. Ospreys, Buzzards and Peregrines are never far away either.
Be in awe amongst the tall Scots Pine which are full of fascinating wildlife. Tree Creepers lurch up the bark, Great-spotted Woodpeckers drill to make nests and the unique calls of Crested Tits are a highland delight. See the beautiful, bold colours of a male Redstart as it sings, perched on a branch. Quietly walking through the woods in the afternoon, there is a chance for the rare and elusive Capercaillie a truly special sight in Scotland. Night time brings a whole new world of wildlife. Patiently waiting in our hide, we can be rewarded with views of a Speyside highlight, a Pine Marten in the tree, whilst badgers entertain below.
The Cairngorm Mountains are a special place. This time of year can see deep snow or warm sun. Whether walking to the summit, or birdwatching with a hot chocolate in the cafe, there’s always something to see. All the wildlife here are specialised to the mountains, Ptarmigan with their mottled plumage blend into the granite, whilst snow bunting fly quickly over the rocks and snow. A Mountain Hare is never far away, you just have to look carefully amongst the tufts of heather. The sounds of Ring Ouzel, newly arrived, accompany sounds of croaking Ptarmigan and Red Grouse. Look to the skies and Golden Eagles fly with their huge wings catching the wind and thermals.
Speyside 24/7 is a magical holiday full of wonderful wildlife and spectacular scenery. The changing of seasons makes it a very special time of year, one for new arrivals both migratory and young, the air is filled with sound and life can be seen all around. For this reason, it is one of my favourite holidays, one which I cannot wait to do again.