The most part of Monday 1st July was taken up hiking up to Carn Ban More, one of the Cairngorm mountains, and then exploring the high tops.
We experienced a couple of short but sharp showers on our way to the top and were hampered by low clouds and a very cold wind. The amount of snow around us reminded us that this was entirely a different climate to that of a thousand feet below! Despite the sometimes challenging montane conditions, we found Dotterel easily and watched one male in particular carefully nurturing two chicks. In the cold conditions he would only allow the chicks to wander around looking for insects for about ten minutes, and would then call them back and brood them for about another ten to fifteen minutes, before repeating the process. Stunning birds in a stunning habitat!
We were fortunate to find Ptarmigan including a flock of ten birds which seemed to be displaying and calling to each other as they strolled across the mosses and vegetation of the high plateau. An on-territory Dunlin was the only other species seen on the high top, until a Golden Eagle appeared overhead and then quickly became a speck in the distance as it allowed the strong wind to take it northwards.
After playing with the dogs in the snow it was time to wander back down and bird the open woodland at the base of the mountain. A mobile family of Crested Tits proved impossible to photograph! Other birds included Stonechat, Wheatear, Lesser Redpoll, Siskin and Tree Pipit.
A stop at a cafe was our treat for climbing a mountain, and we were treated to four Red Squirrels on the peanut feeders there (together with large numbers of Chaffinches, tits, Siskins and a few Great Spotted Woodpeckers). Ospreys showed well again at Loch Insh.
Our final excursion of the day was a late evening wander at Insh Marshes again. The more interesting birds included Tawny Owl, Dipper, Redstart and Tree Pipit.
Eleanor and Neil
|Male Lesser Redpoll|
|Just-fledged juvenile Pied Wagtail|