Monday 6 May 2013

Spring At Last? Big Thaw In The Cairngorms

The Cairngorms, May 6, 2pm.

Yesterday the temperatures finally began to rise, well into double figures Celsius by noon. I didn't light the stove for the first time in many weeks. Outside the air felt warm, the strong south-west wind not chilling the skin or cutting through clothing. Last night the temperature barely fell below +10C. Today the clouds lifted a little to reveal hills stripped of much of the snow. In fact it's going so fast you can almost see it shrinking. The air feels warm and heavy with moisture. Spring, it seems, is finally here.

Despite the warnth activity is as intense as ever on the bird feeders. The last few weeks have seen a change however. The various tits - great, blue and coal - are only occasional visitors now. Instead there are masses of chaffinches and siskins. The latter rarely appeared during the winter. Now there are regularly half a dozen and more. Only the red squirrels, great spotted woodpeckers and dunnocks are present in the same numbers. The only reason I can think for the change in the bird species is the availability of natural food. During the winter there would still have been seeds from the last summer and autumn but few insects for the tits. Now those seeds will be running out and this years are yet to appear so the bird feeders are more attractive to seed-eating birds. There are insects about though and so food for the tits. Today I saw the first big bumblebees on the flowering heathers. There's not yet the summer insect hum in the air but there are hints of it.


To see more of the wildlife in my garden have a look at Terry Abraham's latest blog post about the trip he made last week for the final audio recordings for the Cairngorms In Winter film. Whilst here he couldn't resist filming the squirrels and birds and he's included a short video in his post.


  1. Till it snows again this weekend. I so hope we don't need spikes but fear we might and they are worth the investment of taking them. Glad the film is done Chris and look forward to watching it.

  2. Thanks Martin. I think much of the snow below 900 metres is likely to be gone by the weekend. New snow will probably be soft and short-lived. The forecast does look grim for the start of the Challenge with very strong winds and heavy rain. Combined with snowmelt the latter could make stream crossings hazardous. Good luck!