We had hoped that the recent good weather would hold out for our trip to the Cairngorms today and although it was a bright and frosty start at home by the time we arrived at the Glenshee Ski Centre an hour later the cloud had drifted in.
|Glenshee Ski Centre ~ Grid Ref: NO138781|
This is the highest road in Scotland and gives access to some good mountain country but due to the weather and not being experienced hillwalkers we decided to take a designated track up the mountain from the Ski Centre.
|Good numbers of Red Grouse during our walk today.|
This a great place to see Red Grouse and even before we'd set off from the car park we could hear them calling not far up the hillside. During the winter months, flocks of Snow Buntings can usually be found around the car park but not today, likely too early in the season.
|View down towards Loch Vrotachan at 2,460ft.|
It was a steep climb up as far as Loch Vrotachan at around 2,460ft and although at times we were shrouded by low cloud the views as you would imagine were stunning. The loch is fed from springs from limestone schists and has a high ph. This means lots of insect life and larger than normal trout if you're a keen fisherman but were told that very clear water makes for very wary trout.
|Mountain Hare ~ Also known as Blue Hare as you can see from the colour in my photo.|
What was easier to catch was a glimpse of Mountain Hares and without any snow, they literally do 'stick out like a sore thumb'. There were lots today, such wonderful and mostly confiding animals and it's beyond belief that the Scottish government allowed the slaughter of this iconic species to continue for so long. Now banned of course thanks to petitions and the successful proposal from Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone, who lodged an amendment to the Animals and Wildlife Bill. The amendment now makes Mountain Hares a protected species, effectively ending the recreational killing and mass killing on grouse moors.
|Still a good few Stag Red Deer at the higher slopes.|
We were also hoping for Ptarmigan today but it wasn't to be, likely not moved down yet from higher grounds but at certain times of the year, they do drop to almost car park level. However, we did come across a few groups of Stag Red Deer, amazing animals and looking quite content in their surroundings. From a birding standpoint, the weather and time of year didn't help today and so the only other species noted were Raven, Kestrel and Buzzard. During May and June this area holds Dotterel, Golden Plover and Ring Ouzel and so, of course, we'll be back.
|An atmospheric lunch break at Glenshee|
|Did you know the ears tips remain black all year round on the Mountain Hare?|
|This one not quite there yet!|