Friday 1 November 2013


Winter suddenly seems to have arrived in Blair Atholl. Torrential rain, hugely swollen rivers and snow on the hills added to the long dark evenings have definitely made it feel like winter is upon us.

River Tilt in spate
The Witches Rock - not such a good place for swimming today! The river is running behind it too.

Up until now the wildlife has had an easy autumn with mild weather and an abundant autumn harvest to feed up on to prepare for winter. This week hedgehogs, bats and amphibians will be heading into hibernation. Our red squirrels have been stashing food furiously over the last few weeks, so that on bad days like we are having just now they can stay warm and cosy in their dreys for most of the day.
The red deer have pretty much finished rutting, but the stags will be exhausted and need to feed up frantically before the winter gets really bad.

Swollen rivers can be very dangerous for any hillwalkers or trekkers out in the heart of the Cairngorms where there are no bridges. Red deer and other animals can also get swept away. The rivers here do rise and fall very quickly.
The River Tilt at Marble Lodge. See how quickly the water levels rise.

Cold, wet and windy weather is the most testing for the animals and birds that stay here in the winter. They can cope well with very cold, crisp weather, and snow is not too bad so long as it's not very deep. But cold, rainy or sleety days are worst because the wet penetrates down to the skin and get the creatures really cold. The only way they can combat this is to eat a lot to keep up their energy levels, but if there's not enough food around then it get very bad. We shall soon see what the winter has in store this year.

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