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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.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A day spent in the Aviemore area produced some great wildlife encounters. The day started with a walk around the MacDonald Hotel complex. An Oystercatcher flew from an area of cropped turf to the flat roof of one of the buildings while another was brooding a newly-hatched chick on gravel beside a parking area. A singing Blackcap was the first of three for the day while a singing Willow Warbler was the first of at least 64. Three or four Black-headed Gulls were patrolling the area and Collared Doves were also showing well.
Heading into Craigellachie, almost the first bird encountered was a singing male Wood Warbler. It gave really good views as it flitted between different perches. The songs of Willow Warbler and Chaffinch were ever present all over the site with the squeaks of Spotted Flycatchers almost as common. A male Pied Flycatcher gave excellent views as it sang from a tall Birch and another three of the species were encountered later (a female, another singing male and a male visiting a nest box). Six Tree Pipits sang from more open areas but only two Redstarts were heard. A Robin was feeding a fledged juvenile and Great Tit, Coal Tit and Blue Tit all had fledged young. Flowering plants on the reserve included Violet, Wood Anemone, Blaeberry and Stitchwort. White-tailed Bumblebees were everywhere.
Heading up onto the ridge, the plant species changed with Shield Fern and Alpine Lady's Mantle both appearing. Bird life changed too with Meadow Pipit dominating. A single Red Grouse flew up from cover.


Back in Aviemore, Rooks still had young in the nest and a single Swift flew over (with two later in the day). A walk down to the Spey produced Oystercatcher (one incubating on a shingle bar), Common Sandpiper, Sand Martin (nesting) and Kingfisher (a single bird seen twice). The river walk by the golf courses added Goldeneye and Black-headed Gull (the latter hawking flies). Long-tailed Tits had broods at two sites and Treecreeper, Lesser Redpoll, Mistle Thrush, Swallow and Great Spotted Woodpecker were added to the day list. A Cuckoo was calling off to the south east and Chickweed Wintergreen was flowering in the Birch woods. House Martins were visiting nests in the Lochan Mor estate and four pairs of Lapwings had downy young on nearby farmland.

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