Saturday, April 13, 2019

πŸ“– #15/2019 ~ Bennachie Visitor Centre

Back up to enjoy the new property in Aberdeenshire for the next few weeks before we give it up for rent for around a year or so before the final move.

It's amazing to see, having driven up from the Midlands last Thursday, how far behind everything is! For example, the Hazel, Hawthorn and Blackthorn have yet to bloom, although there are a few signs this morning (Tuesday) that things are beginning to happen. When I visited Brandon Marsh the day before coming up Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were all in full song and the usual Hirundines had all been noted. Since arriving I've only heard a single Chiffchaff and Blackcap, although along the coast and on a few inland lochs I've noted many Sand Martins and the odd Swallow.

Sunrise from the drive across to Bennachie
⛅️-2C Saturday 13th April 2019 ~ I took the short drive at dawn along to the Bennachie Visitor Centre for a walk around the Pine and Larch forest trails, I'll leave the climb to Mithers Tap for another day. It was a chilly -2C and on the road, I had to stop twice for two groups of Roe Deer to cross, it was an awesome sight, particularly with the gorgeous sunrise.

Common Crossbill ~ Bennachie
The centre feeders were devoid of Red Squirrels on this visit, perhaps a little too cold and still quite dark. Siskin appears to be everywhere and it's lovely to hear them singing high up in the trees, interrupted occasionally by the Common Crossbills. The usual woodland species can be found with many Coal Tits, Chaffinch and several Treecreepers, although it's a real learning curve as to which species actually venture this far north, For example, there are only  c260 pairs of breeding Nuthatch in the whole of Scotland, with a winter population of 1250 ~ 1500.

Coal Tit a constant companion
Along my walk, a few Brambling high up in the canopy but just a single Chiffchaff and distant Blackcap heard, plus two Great-spotted Woodpeckers investigating a nesting hole. Through the gaps looking across to the fields and beyond a half dozen Curlew along with Linnet, Skylark and Meadow Pipit, with one or two of the latter performing their familiar parachute drops.