Friday, January 22, 2016

Highland winter highlights.

Past days has seen the "highlands" gripped by winter with daytime temperatures hovering around freezing and nighttime figures much lower. Calm conditions, unrelenting temperatures and snow have provided the sort of magical scenes people always wish happened at Christmas, but ones that can bring their own series of problems.  Thankfully road conditions have been reasonable, icy but not blocked by snow other than in the extreme.

Suddenly conditions have changed overnight. The snow has gone , the temperatures are up and, after a series of dull, grey days, a hint of sunshine in a blue sky. Odd Primroses are peeping through, accompanied by an occasional burst of song from a Robin, molehills are being revealed and, very gradually , the countryside appears to be coming back to life.

Morning and evening flights of Pink-footed Geese move between the feeding grounds on inland stubble and the roosting sites on the nearby Beauly Firth.  A few days ago the far reaching calls of Whooper Swans could be heard  somewhere down close to the Firth itself  but the birds appear to have moved more recently.  As dawn broke today on improving conditions three Common Buzzards called repeatedly from nearby woodland as if in celebration!

The report of the Aurora Borealis possibly being on display one night prompted a late night walk that, sadly was more dominated by the moon that anything else. However, the calm, quiet, pristine stillness of a "highland" night was an experience in itself  that, surprisingly, was never punctuated by a calling owl or an animal's alarm call.

Whilst the next few days promise to be somewhat mild the future might yet see a reversion to what has gone before or even worse!  Who knows?