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Natural Connections

Modern life in Scotland is increasingly busy. The connections our ancestors had with nature and the land are being lost. As leisure time shrinks, or is filled with hi-tech experiences, opportunities to experience nature become fewer. And yet it is possible to connect with nature on a day to day basis. All around us, the great web of life continues to hold its shape, and nature continues its eternal cycles. Keep looking, listening, smelling, touching - and keep experiencing natural connections.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review of 2013: Part 3

The monthly visits to Strathspey which commenced towards the end of 2011 continued throughout 2013. Only September was missed. Daily totals ranged from 17 species in January to 57 in May. Some of the birding highlights recorded in the blog included a flock of around ten Black Grouse flying along beside the train at Drumochter, two Bullfinches quietly feeding on Heather tips along the Tulloch Moor road, two Golden Eagles spiralling over a hillside north of Kingussie, a magnificent White-tailed Eagle over the Insh Marshes, displaying Curlew and Lapwing at Ruthven, two spring Redstart singing from conifers in Drumguish, a possible Red Kite in Glen Feshie, at least five Crested Tits present between Drakes Bothy and Loch Gamhna, a (presumed migrant) Pied Flycatcher singing briefly from woodland next to Dalfaber Road, Aviemore, an Osprey flying up Glen Banchor, a Pied Wagtail's nest AND a Coal Tit's nest in the same tree near Kingussie, a singing Redwing near Kingussie Golf Course, a singing Cuckoo near Creag Bheag, pairs of Lapwings, Curlews and Oystercatcher at Strone, the near-constant sound of singing Willow Warblers in a variety of habitats, a colourful trio of Grey Wagtail, Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher in “Calder Glen”, Swift sightings from Kingussie, Aviemore and Grantown, two Common Terns fishing on the Spey near Speybridge, a female Goosander with six tiny ducklings (which scuttled away into cover) to the west of the Nethy Bridge, a male Bullfinch among other finches feeding on the seeds of Wych Elms in the grounds of the Four Seasons Hotel, Aviemore, feeders at the Strathspey Heather Centre alive with juvenile Great Tits, Blue Tits and especially Siskins, House Martins visiting at least two nests on houses in the Lochan More housing estate, a perfectly still Loch Vaa with only the sounds of trilling Little Grebes, “frank”ing Grey Herons and the occasional plop of a rising fish to break the silence, at least four Spotted Flycatchers feeding together at Loch Vaa (the juveniles giving their rasping begging call), an autumn flock of 15-20 Mistle Thrushes on the cattle fields opposite Knock of Kincardine, a female Goosander escorting 10 juveniles beyond Wester Dalvoult, two noisy Dippers on the stretch of the Abhainn Ruigh-eunachan where it enters Loch Morlich, a remarkable "dog fight" involving 14 Ravens and six Buzzards high over the start of the Sluggain Path, nine Whooper Swans taking off from Loch Morlich and repeatedly circling over the forest honking loudly, twenty Redpoll among autumn colour at Tullochgrue, some sizeable flocks of Siskins (some containing Lesser Redpolls too) along the Insh road, three Dippers plunge-diving into the middle of the river and chasing eachother exhuberantly and 33 Wigeon on the Spey just east of Drumuillie (with another 15 on Milton Loch).
Altogether 87 species were recorded as follows:

Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Domestic Mallard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Grebe, White-tailed Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Osprey, Golden Eagle, Kestrel, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Tern, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Swift, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, hybrid Carrion x Hooded Crow, Raven, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Skylark, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Long-tailed Tit, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Treecreeper, Wren, Starling, Dipper, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Pied Flycatcher, Robin, Redstart, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Bullfinch, Lesser Redpoll, unidentified crossbill sp and Reed Bunting, Snow Bunting and Yellowhammer (87 species).

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