Sunday, 15 April 2018

A trip to the Cairngorms: Day 2 Abernethy

Today started out with patchy cloud and sunshine, but by the afternoon it was constant drizzle. We began at RSPB Loch Garten and the Osprey Centre. The ospreys weren’t showing, but there were dozens of chaffinches and siskins battling for pole position on the feeders.

We walked from the Osprey Centre to Loch Garten and Loch Mallachie; chaffinches and coal tits were everywhere in the surrounding forests. Like our walk through Rothiemurchus, again there were common toads everywhere. Some alone, some mating and some groups a mixture of the two. Greylags flew in noisily to the small island on Loch Mallachie, but the loch was otherwise quiet, calm and clear.

Walking through the beautiful pine forests, I noticed the diverse understorey flora, so different to the forests and woods I’m used to exploring. They were full of fluffy and bouncy looking mosses, among other things and, of course, the wispy lichens hugging the trees. We could hear many goldcrests but only caught one glimpse of this tiny and quick little bird on a small trail towards Boat of Garten. It was at this point there was a sudden aggregation of birds; great tits, goldcrest, a tree creeper and more chaffinches.

Returning to the Osprey Centre through the drizzle, it was very quiet. All woodland birds seemed to have gone into hiding as we made our way back through the forest. However, the feeding station at the Osprey Centre was even more active than earlier in the day; bolshie siskins trying to push the chaffinches from the feeders, determined despite their smaller stature. A brambling brightening the sea of chaffinches with his stripes, a woodpecker feasting on peanuts and many fast moving coal tits; no ospreys today, but we held our hopes out for our wildlife safari the next day.

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