Glorious Glenshee….plus my first view of snow bunting!

Today, we left quite early and headed up to Glenshee. It is somewhere I had never been before and the slopes above the ski centre can be good for a variety of species, including mountain hare, grouse, ptarmigan and the snow bunting, which I have been keen to try to see whilst here in Scotland.

The drive there was spectacular, even though much of the snow has now melted. Looking at the roads, I think it would have been a more scary drive up there even just a week ago when the snow was really deep.

With the clouds clearing and blue skies, we climbed up the hillside next to the car park . It was mighty slippery, with the remaining snow now frozen and icy. The wind was absolutely bitter, so we headed to below a ridge to be protected a little. The views were simply breathtaking from there. Huddled out of the wind, we watched a number of mountain hare on the slopes below us and listened to the red grouse calling…. just incredible!

We then headed up a little higher still. What a wonderful vista of such a wild and rugged landscape here in the UK… and so many people will have never ventured to this part of our country to enjoy such wonderful views!

After being blasted by the icy winds for over an hour, we headed back down to the car to warm up. We kept an eye out for Snow Bunting, which we know had been seen recently around this area. A twittering and flurry of wings and a small flock of them flew past us, alighting on a bank of cleared snow beside the car park…. not quite the pristine white snowy shots I had hoped for, but my first view of these pretty birds and I was excited to grab a couple of shots of them too.

Most of these birds had a number of coloured rings on their legs… some had 4 rings. From what I can understand from an Internet search, these rings say where they were ringed, but I found it difficult to find a website that would make it easy for me to identify some of the birds I saw and photographed. Any more information on this colour ring project would be gratefully received, as I would imagine it will give a fascinating insight into the movement of  individuals.

I am really pleased to have seen them and would love to have the chance to photograph them on a more pleasing background. They were often landing higher up on the slopes, foraging for food and hunkering down in the grasses and heather…. somewhat out of reach of my lens though. Their pretty plumage blends in beautifully with the landscape and, until they move, they are very difficult to spot.

My lasting memory will be of standing up on that ridge, with the sound of red grouse and an icy wind in my face….