The days are getting shorter and we have had some beautiful clear and crisp autumnal days. The leaves on the trees are beginning to turn, producing an array of golden autumnal tones. The robin is singing his melodious tune from strategic perches, a most noticeable bird with their orange-red breast.
We have said goodbye to the swallows and the house martins. This is certainly a hazardous time for the wee birds that have begun their long journey to Africa. British swallows are migrating to South Africa. They fly by day at low altitudes and find food on the way. Migrating swallows cover around 200 miles per day. They do build up their fat reserves prior to their 9000 mile journey, however, many birds die from starvation, exhaustion or in storms. Not much is known about the migration journey of the house martin, once they leave the British Isles they fall off the radar. It is not known where exactly they spend their winter, or how they get there! These mysterious birds have declined in recent years, and although still widespread and fairly numerous, they have now been placed on the amber list.
The last osprey we saw at Spey Bay was spotted on 18th September. The ospreys are also heading over to Africa, to the West, taking on a journey that exceeds 3000 miles. It is a very testing journey, the odds are only 1 in 3 osprey will successfully complete the migration.
We have had cormorants and gannets in abundance at Spey Bay. Over the last few weeks the sea has been a hive of activity for these diving birds with many juveniles too. It is amazing to watch them dive, they plummet towards the water at an amazing speed and just at the last minute, they fold in their wings before making a huge splash and plunging into the cold North Sea. Gannets are capable of diving in excess of 60mph and pursuing prey at depths of 12 metres.
We have also been paid a visit by numerous pink footed geese which have migrated to Scotland for the winter. They will remain in Scotland until March or April when they will return to their breeding sites in Greenland and Iceland for the summer.
In duck tales, we have had a fairly large number of wigeon and mallard on the estuary. We have seen one of the UK’s smallest ducks, the teal and also the UK’s heaviest duck, the eider, who happens to be the fastest flying duck in the UK too.
As for the dolphins, they have still been showing themselves, although in much smaller groups and generally being fairly calm in their behaviour.
In other news, the river Spey has burst its banks again! Since the last storm in August, the river has been quite low and the land relatively dry, however on Wednesday, following the down pour, the Spey was running through the adjacent woodland and the main stream was fast and furious! By the afternoon it was beautifully sunny which brought the people out to admire the Spey’s immensity.