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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, September 30, 2017

Highlights of today's wanderings in Strathspey included a Kingfisher at Milton Loch, Chanterelle in the forest and assorted mammals consisting of Roe Deer, Brown Hare and Rabbit. More tomorrow.
The following notes added 1st October 2017:

A late evening wander down to Milton Loch to look at the stars found a Grey Heron “franking” in the darkness, accompanied by the laughing of the Mallards. The next morning, headed out first thing and was down at the same site just as the sun was coming up. Wigeon numbers had increased to three (all in eclipse) and five female/eclipse Teal were plowtering in a quiet corner. Two Moorhens were again present, along with a Grey Heron and a Dipper. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew over, followed by three Buzzards. Rooks and Jackdaws (and Woodpigeons) were flooding out of their roost as the sun came up. A passing Kestrel attracted some attention from the corvids. A Pheasant flew over the fields where two Roe Deer were feeding. Three Mistle Thrushes then flew over at tree-top height and a single Chiffchaff sang next to the sawmill.

Heading back up the road, a Kingfisher dashed along the back of the loch calling as it flew. It continued to move around near the hide, for the next 20 minutes, calling intermittently. Other birds in the village included singing Collared Dove and Starling and calling Dunnock.
Began the walk back to Aviemore about 10am. Entered the forest about half an hour later and within minutes had seen Chaffinch and Great, Coal, Blue, Long-tailed and Crested Tits. The diversity of bird life fell off away from the edge with only Coal Tit, Goldcrest and the occasional Crested Tit encountered. Wood Ant nests were still active on what was a mild day, small flies and day-flying moths were everywhere and a dead Common Toad was on the path. About an hour into the forest, came across a really nice patch of Chanterelle mushrooms. They were on a north-facing slope with a more grass-dominated under-storey than the more typical vaccinium and heather.
As the moorland edge was approached, a few Wrens were encountered. Out on the moor, several Meadow Pipits were present. A tit flock in some Birches consisted of ten Long-tailed Tits and small numbers of Blue, Great, Coal and Crested (just one of the latter).
The road from Glencairn to Pityoulish produced some interesting sightings including Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit, Robin, two Goldfinches and two single Buzzards. Further south, two Jays were at Drumchork (including one bird flying well out in the open) and a mixed flock of Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls (about 20 in total) was flying from (presumably) Granish Tip to bathe in Loch Pityoulish. A Brown Hare was disturbed at the edge of the road and a single Roe Deer was browsing in rough grass. The loch itself was very unproductive with five Mallards being the only birds present.
The Guislich Farm area produced fair numbers of Carrion Crows, Jackdaws and Woodpigeons plus a Meadow pipit on one of the hay bales and overflying Redpoll and Crossbill (two). The only other species of note was rabbit from the train at Kingussie.
Impressions of Strathspey in late September:
Windy, sunny and mild, but changeable with rain never far off.
Still very green but little other colour with the Heather now past its best, Rosebay Willow Herb gone to seed and flowering plants (Hawkweeds, Knapweeeds, Ragwort, Harebell, Herb Robert and Devil’s Bit Scabious) providing muted rather than spectacular shows.
Goldeneye remarkable by its complete absence.
First leaves (of Birch) falling but Oak and other trees still green.
Some ornamental trees starting to colour up.
Air (out of the wind) quite full of gossamer and flying insects.
Hay fields either harvested and already baled or (a few) still awaiting harvesting.  
Peak fungi season has been reached with the roadsides and forest floors showing an amazing variety.
Some interesting mammals to see, consisting of Roe Deer, Brown Hare, Rabbit and vole.

The total species list for the two days was Greylag Goose, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Goosander, Red Grouse, Pheasant, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Moorhen, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Kestrel, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Swallow, Long-tailed Tit, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Wren, Starling, Dipper, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Lesser Redpoll, unidentified crossbill, Goldfinch, Siskin and Reed Bunting (48 species).


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