Friday, 16 March 2018

Wildlife On Our Doorstep

There is much wildlife to be enjoyed on our doorstep and beyond. 

Mammal species are at a premium, however, early morning or early evening you may see rabbits around the course environs (much to the chagrin of the green-keeper). 

Foxes are seen occasionally as well as roe deer and in recent years, pine marten has been recorded here. Otters are scarce but have been sighted at Mineral well and Stonehaven Bay. 

In terms of marine life, dolphins (bottle nosed and white beaked) can be viewed off the coast at Stonehaven at any time (often visible from Dalriada) but are more regular during summer months. The much smaller porpoise can also be seen if you have a keen eye.

Dolphins at Stonehaven

Other sea life includes common and grey seal and good sized colonies can be viewed off Catterline and Fowlsheugh.

Seal Pup near Stonehaven Ian Hastie

Larger cetaceans passing the coast are scarcer but do occur annually, notably humpbacked whale, killer whale and the more common minke whale.

Recent sightings of cetaceans can be seen here: http://seawatchfoundation.org.uk/legacy_tools/region.php

BIRDLIFE

There are good numbers of resident species in North East of Scotland. Some of the more common birds you may see/hear within 400 metres of your lodge would include: chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch, yellowhammer, house and tree sparrow, dunnock, starling, buzzard, kestrel, sparrowhawk, magpie, woodpigeon, collared dove, rook, crow, jackdaw (a local breeding population underneath the railway bridge on the golf course), linnet, wren, blue tit, great tit, coal tit, stonechat, pied wagtail, siskin. The wooded area flanking the 11th fairway hold great spotted woodpecker, treecreeper and the UK’s smallest bird – goldcrest,

A short walk to Cowie will usually glean sightings of wading birds (shorebirds). Again, depending on time of year you may see oystercatcher, dunlin, ringed plover, knot, purple sandpiper, curlew, whimbrel (passage), godwit (passage), rock pipit, sandwich and common tern. Gull species include herring, black headed, lesser black backed and great black backed gull.

Dunlin at Cowie Stonehaven Ian Hastie

Resident species are joined by visiting birds. From mid March, the cliffs at Fowlsheugh start filling up with seabirds – razorbill, gulliemot, kittiwake, fulmar and the much loved puffin. Best viewing to be had from late March through to September. Peregrine can be seen regularly and the sheer numbers of birds will attract a marauding skua from time to time.

Puffin Flying RSPB Fowlsheugh Ian Hastie

Smaller songbirds arrive from Africa shortly thereafter including chiffchaff and willow warbler, the latter being numerous in the gorse along the 10th fairway (next to the lodges). Swallows typically arrive April and can usually be found nesting under the eaves of the clubhouse. A few weeks on, whitethroat make an appearance and breed in good numbers at the edges of the railway. 

As summer visitors depart for warmer climes in Autumn time, we experience the arrival of Northern species – pink footed geese arrive in their thousands and can be heard and seen overhead from September.

Geese taking off from field

This is merely a snapshot of what you may encounter but for the keen birder seeking some of the specialities of the region such as crossbill, ptarmigan, crested tit, golden eagle, suggested itineraries can be provided (Local expert guiding can be provided for a separate charge).

Nearby wildlife areas:

RSPB Fowlsheugh – 4 miles from Dalriada – seabirds including puffin (March – September)

Torry Battery, Aberdeen – Dolphins, otter, seabirds

Ythan Estuary, Newburgh – large seal colony, terns, eider, waders, osprey

Montrose Basin – waders, geese, seals, osprey, kingfisher

Royal Deeside – red squirrel, redstart, tree pipit, spotted flycatcher, cuckoo

St Cyrus NNR – common lizard, peregrine, raven, house martin, stonechat

Glen Esk – Adder, slow worm, redstart, cuckoo, sandpiper

Troup Head – Gannet colony