Springtime is well and truly here, bringing with it renewed vigour and evidence of nature coming to life: a season of new beginnings, when buds bloom and animals awaken. What an uplifting and inspiring time to immerse yourself in the great outdoors.
To give nature enthusiasts a richer, more rewarding experience, the Cairngorms National Park employs a network of Countryside Rangers which connect people with our outstanding landscape and native wildlife. Rangers promote the public’s enjoyment, understanding and care of the environment. Using their expert knowledge, rangers can unlock hidden gems and bring to life habitats and the creatures that inhabit these environments. Employed by local authorities, private estates and charitable trusts, twelve ranger services cover the National Park. Find out more about their work at; www.cairngorms.co.uk
We know that the Cairngorm National Park is the place to be if you love wildlife and, as explained, rangers can reveal some of nature’s secrets and delights. Add to this, an extensive programme of walks, talks, workshops and activities and you have the makings of a truly amazing nature event! Over the weekend of 14-15 May 2016, the National Park’s wonderful wildlife and stunning scenery takes centre stage at the Cairngorms Nature Festival. Young and old alike are invited to take part in a series of educational and entertaining events that cater for all interests. The activities on offer will be led by rangers, experienced guides or experts in their field such as the well-known naturalist and tv presenter Nick Baker.
The diverse activities are laid out in the programme by region so you can easily find what is happening in the area of your choice; Badenoch & Strathspey; Blair Atholl; Upper Deeside; and Tomintoul. While there are too many events to list here, some of the features to be enjoyed include: numerous guided and themed walks and wildlife guiding; get up and close to Highland cattle or reindeer. Or how about joining a watching hide at dusk or overnight camping by a river? For the more energetic, there are activities involving climbing, mountain biking and orienteering. Check out the full programme and book your events (many are free) at www.cairngorms.co.uk Last year over 850 people took part in the Festival; come and see why!
A favoured spot on many visitors’ itineraries is The Abernethy National Nature Reserve which has the largest remnants of ancient Caledonian pine forest as well as moorland, lochs, rivers and mountain terrain. It is, however, an attraction of the feathered variety that excites birdwatchers as the NNR includes Loch Garten and the world famous Osprey Centre.
And, it is in the Spring each year that the osprey couple, Odin and EJ, fly in from far flung shores to continue their long relationship. EJ the female osprey is a much loved regular visitor to the site and, since 2003, she and her partner Odin have raised 23 chicks. Everyone was delighted in April when the pair of lovebirds returned to take up residence for the season; first EJ, followed a week or so later by Odin. We hope that their stop over this year will be incident free. In 2015, a rival male osprey gatecrashed the site, pushing the eggs out of the nest, so no chicks were raised last year. At the time of writing, EJ has laid three eggs so, fingers are crossed for the arrival and safe rearing of chicks this season. Visitors are welcome at the Osprey Centre which is open 10am – 6pm, to end August. Or, you can observe proceedings from afar via the webcam; www.rspb.org.uk
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