Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Carn Ban Mor

Bazra enjoying the snow!


Much of Monday 19th May was spent clambering up to the summit of Carn Ban Mor and then walking the Cairngorm high tops before descending late in the afternoon.  For the first half of the day it seemed we were the only people up there, but by mid-afternoon we had met a few other trekkers.  We were also lucky with the weather, as we later found out that there had been some heavy pulses of rain at lower altitude.

Despite the warm spring, there is plenty of snow at higher elevations, the first snow that Tor the hound had ever seen!

The high tops were mostly barren for birds but we saw a couple of close Ptarmigan on our way up, several Red Grouse and several attendant Wheatears.  The Dotterel were quite skittish and didn't allow for a close approach.  Of the eight we saw, the majority were vocal females that were trotting rapidly after the duller couple of males.  The rocky outcrop of Sgor Gaoth was home to a pair of Ring Ouzel, and providing a very dramatic overview of Loch Eanaich.  A new mammal for the both of us in the UK was the distant sighting of five Reindeer, these animals now seemingly ranging across the uplands of Cairngorm National Park.

On our way back to 'home', we called in at a nearby Osprey nest and could confirm a pair in residence again this year. Several Goldeneye on the loch there included a female with ducklings, at the same stage in life as we saw ducklings up here in July last year. Further confirmation that spring this year is warm and early and last year was cold and late.  Also there appears little difference in the breeding season timing from Northants and the Highlands, as we have seen plenty of fledged birds including Treecreeper, thrushes, Robin etc.

We spent the early part of the night looking for nocturnal mammals and after plenty of Red and Roe Deer, we added Badger and then finally the sought-after Pine Marten.  A roding Woodcock showed before it became too dark and then it was finally time for a couple of hours of sleep before the next early morning!


Eleanor and Neil

Loch Eanaich from
Sgor Gaoith,
Cairngorm National Park


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