January 2017 Wildlife
We've had a fairly mild winter this year but have had some snow over the last few weeks. We've also had our fair share of blue skies and sunshine. These clear skies have been good for Golden Eagles and we've been seeing them in good numbers recently, including one occasion when we had four in view at the same time!
It's not just "goldies" we've been seeing, White Tailed Eagles have featured too. These are mainly young birds which winter in the Strath. Another raptor highlight recently was a Goshawk having a dogfight with a Hen Harrier, which was a first for me and really cool to watch! Other species we've been seeing recently include lekking Black Grouse, Capercaillie, Crested Tit and both Common and Scottish Crossbills in the Caledonian forest, as well as Waxwings which are always a pleasure to see.
Moray Firth is always good at this time of year, with thousands of wintering seaduck, Eider, Scaup, Long-tailed Duck and both Common and Velvet Scoter along with the Pink-footed Geese. We've also been seeing all three divers (Black Throat, Red Throat, Great Northern) as well as Slavonian Grebe in good numbers (including over thirty in one raft) and numerous Iceland Gulls.
Farmland birds are also a feature of the Moray Firth and we've been seeing Grey Partridge, Corn Bunting (nearly thirty in one flock), as well as Tree Sparrows, Yellowhammer and Linnets. So if you think the Highlands in winter is a place to avoid, think again!