Monday, June 10, 2013
Monday, May 27, 2013
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
There are plenty of native red squirrels to be seen in the coniferous woodland forests around South Loch Ness if you look closely and stay quiet.The young of the red squirrel are called 'kittens' and they are now appearing usually with siblings.They are very playful, often chasing each other across the grass and up and down the tree trunks. If they come from the same family they do not show aggression towards each other but different families will spit and fight quite violently.
They often stop for a wash and brush up session, especially if they have been out in a passing shower as any wetness on their fur will hinder their movement.
The most striking features of the red squirrels are their long bushy tail and ear-tufts.The long tail is thought to help the squirrel to balance and steer when moving from tree to tree and running along branches, and may also keep the animal warm during sleep. The red squirrel has sharp, curved claws to enable the climbing of trees. This might be quite vital as the predatory pine marten, which inhabits the same area, is known to chase these charming creatures for food.
The coat of the red squirrel varies in colour with time of year and location. Red coats are most common and the underside of the squirrel is always white-cream in colour. They shed their coats twice each year, switching from a thinner summer coat to a thicker, darker winter coat with noticeably larger ear-tufts (a prominent distinguishing feature of this species) between August and November.At the moment they are moulting their winter coat although I think they wish they could keep it a little longer.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Large clumps of wild primroses are growing everywhere. They are a little later than normal possibly because of the chilly temperatures during the earlier part of this year. They adorn the forest floor in the shady spots around the trees and brighten up the roadside verges.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The weather has improved this week and it is much warmer with sunny spells with the odd passing shower thrown in. The Highland and Shetland ponies - Rummy and Oden - have been scampering about in the field by the cottage with a new spring in their step. The Highland cattle are busy eating their way through the field and enjoying the dryer weather. Unfortunately the dry spell did not last long.
Friday, December 14, 2012
This week the chilly temperatures have caused wisps of freezing fog to drift up the Great Glen from the west coast. Yesterday was minus 4C throughout the day and much colder at night. Snow fell all day and there is now a layer around the house. Fortunately though, the forecast for the next few days is for warmer temperatures with rain showers which will enable the snow to melt. During the cold white snowy spell it is easier to spot certain bird species that normally would not be so visible, especially the tiny Goldcrest which is the UK's smallest bird. Gangs of Long Tailed Tits flit about the woodland, descend on the feeders altogether and are gone in a few seconds.
Monday, December 10, 2012
Noticed a much greater number of blackbirds feeding in the garden this month and they especially enjoy any soft fruit left out for them. Although we usually see them throughout the year with their normal colouration as captured above, we have noticed some males with black beaks. On further investigation I have read that there has been a great arrival of winter Scandanavian visitors-Fieldfares,Redwings and Blackbirds-who come to refuel, get through the 'milder' British winter and then fly back north to their homeland to breed. The juvenile male Scandanavian blackbird has a prominent black beak during its first year.
The blackbirds often share the bird table with the red squirrels in their smart warm winter coats and fully grown ear tufts. There are plenty of squirrels eating at the various feeding stations during the limited daylight hours and they dash about frantically burying food, hopefully which they will be able to find later in the colder weather. Clear blue sky today with zero temperature and the forecast of an Arctic chill on the way. Brrrrr.....
Wednesday, December 05, 2012
The weather has turned colder this month producing deep snow on high ground. The CairnGorm Ski Centre has opened early and doing good business. This morning there was snow and frost laying on the ground around the house and the temperature is forecast for minus 7C tomorrow....something to really look forward to !
Had to put on my safety Spikers this morning to go out and feed the birds and squirrels and to break the thick ice on the bird bath. The robins are particularly cheeky, and maybe very hungry, and fly on to the bird table as I am putting food on to it. Whatever the weather the wildlife rely on you at this time of year.