I spied a Spotted Flycatcher flitting from one tree to another but failed to get Mrs Caley on to it but not to worry since we'd be sure to see more at other sites during the following fortnight. Next we came across a small party of Lesser Redpoll that were engaged in feisty squabbles presumably sorting out their breeding pairs. This area is good for these diminutive finches. Cuckoos could be heard far off and both Mistle and Song Thrushes were all around us. We entered the woods and could hear Common Redstarts singing from the tree tops and Tree Pipits were taking to the air on their short but delightful display flights. The morning was warming up, the birds were busy and we were relaxing. Heaven!
Back at the farm Swallows were now showing well but numbers appeared to be down on former years. In fact many birds seemed to be in lower numbers, much as it is down south too. Our birds are definitely suffering, maybe the wet spring is to blame. Hopefully the numbers will recover next year. There were definitely not as many Chaffinches and Willow Warblers in the woods as one would normally expect. A Goldcrest was busy foraging in an isolated pine tree and was suitably elusive. Back at the cottage we listened to a very melodic Blackcap. An unusual flutey rhythmic song that I'd not heard before but it was definitely a Blackcap that was singing it. We also saw a Jay flash through the trees at the bottom of the garden. Jays are increasing in numbers in Strathspey and will be seen most days now in wooded habitat whereas just a few years ago they were really scarce.
I had put some bird food out in the garden just after we'd arrived and already there were visitors. Coal Tits and Siskins had found the offerings as had a small (young?) Red Squirrel. We've had trips up here when we've hardly encountered any Squirrels so this was a real pleasure to have one feasting just feet from the cottage window. They have an incredibly cheeky expression.
|male Red Grouse|
|Red Grouse chick|
|female Red Grouse|