🌊 High Tide ~ N/A ~ ☀️ Sunrise 7:46am Sunset 5:00pm ~ Day Lenth 9:14:02
When we moved north to Aberdeenshire in October of last year we knew that the summers would be mild and the winters typically cold, so no surprises there! However, nothing had quite prepared us for the unprecedented weather we've been experiencing since the turn of the month. With snow falling on almost every day thus far even the locals have been telling us that they 'haven't seen anything quite like it in many a year'. The fact is though, I absolutely love it. The scenery is breathtaking and my daily walks are exhilarating and as for the wildlife, well they appear to be coping exceptionally well.
|A very feisty Fieldfare ~ Seeing off all comers to devour at least two apples a day|
Our garden, like many others locally, has become a haven for birds and I find myself out at first light each morning in the freezing conditions and a foot of snow preparing the ground and feeders for the day ahead. Last night the thermometer fell to -14.8C and just an hours drive from here Braemar recorded a low of -23C. Forecasters believe it was the coldest night since temperatures dipped to 27.2C on 30 December 1995 and the coldest February night since 1955.
|Section of my walk around Fetternear Estate|
Today I decided on a walk through the Fetternear Estate, less than a mile from home. The walk begins along the bank of the River Don before heading away through broadleaf and pine woods, punctuated by areas of mixed farmland. Despite the depth of snow, the walk was surprisingly easy underfoot with the daily sub-zero temperatures compacting the snow to a smooth surface unless of course, you wander off track!
|Ice-flow along the River Don|
At the river bridge, I was amazed to see a considerable build-up of drifting ice islands of various shapes and sizes floating downstream, something I don't believe I've experienced since my time in Canada, certainly not in the UK. After admiring the phenomenon for what seemed an age and with the river not looking too inviting for the local Dippers I moved on to investigate a few of the local burns. I did eventually come across a pair down towards the very end of one particular burn quite close to the river but unfortunately too far along for a photo. A Little Grebe and single female Goosander were also noted.
|A ridiculously confiding Redwing|
Along the treeline, where the snow hadn't quite managed to penetrate, small groups of Redwings could be found feeding among the leaf litter. One particular bird had found a nice unfrozen patch and was so determined not to become disloged from this oasis I actually spent a good while literally within yards of the bird, which in normal times would be almost impossible. It was such an enjoyable period that I was a little reluctant to move on but thought it best to leave the guy in peace.
|Small open and developing copses were occasionally a hive of activity|
You can walk for long periods without actually seeing much activity, although I'd heard Siskin overhead, Coal Tits in the treetops and the occasional Treecreeper, with it's unmistakable high pitched call. Then occasionally I'd come across areas of high activity, normally within small open copses and here I would spend long periods. With a little patience these areas paid off today with a good selection of species which included Great Spotted Woodpecker, Yellowhammer, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Tree Sparrow and a single Brambling. Sadly the Red Squirrels didn't make their presence known today!
|Male Bullfinch ~ Even more colourful in the bright snow reflection|
|Coal Tit ~ Sporting a snowy bill|
|Tree Sparrow ~ Not uncommon in these parts it would seem|
|Tree Sparrow ~ Very lucky to see these gorgeous birds on most outings|
|Redwing ~ Another view of this confiding individual|