Short Days

Well, we’re almost there- it’s the turn of the year over the weekend. Oh, not officially – that’s the 1st of January, obviously – but in real terms, the year turns on the winter equinox on the 21st December. That’s the shortest day and after that the days start getting longer again. Because the reserve is in a hollow in the hills, the sun drops behind them very early- this picture was taken at not much after 2:30.

Sunset over Loch Kinord with teasels in foreground

Sunset over Loch Kinord with teasels in foreground

A lot of the snow has gone but it’s still fairly icy here. The temperature has been up and down a lot and that has made some paths very icy – the snow has melted, then frozen again but it’s never been warm enough to totally melt it away.  Surprisingly, the lochs are only frozen in sheltered bays, probably due to the wind keeping the water moving. However, in these bays, even the waves are frozen.

Looking across Loch Kinord towards Corn Arn

Looking across Loch Kinord towards Corn Arn

Loch Kinord with ice at edges

Loch Kinord with ice at edges

Icy waves in Loch Kinord

Icy waves in Loch Kinord

After saying no more than a fortnight ago how rarely you see shy bullfinches, we’ve seen quite a few lately – including just outside the visitor centre. The males are a gorgeous pink colour and posed beautifully for us in to top of a birch tree.

Bullfinch at top of birch tree

Bullfinch at top of birch tree

Bullfinch feeding on birch

Bullfinch feeding on birch

The bullfinches are probably being bolder as it has been pretty cold. Hunger makes wildlife more reckless than normal so you often see birds and animals more easily. Where there is a known source of food, like the peanut feeder, there is a real flurry of activity. You can check this out in this wee movie clip on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=895238870506710&set=vb.125227577507847&type=2&theater  and here are a couple of pictures from Monday.

A flurry of activity on the Dinnet feeder!

A flurry of activity on the Dinnet feeder!

Everyone's hungry in the cold, including the red squirrels.

Everyone’s hungry in the cold, including the red squirrels.

We did try and entice the squirrel closer for a picture by putting some nuts on a table near the window. However, the coal tits spotted them first and they didn’t last long after that!

Peanut stasher! The coal tits beat the squirrel to the nuts.

Peanut stasher! The coal tits beat the squirrel to the nuts…

....and it didn't take the other birds long to get in on the action too!

….and it didn’t take the other birds long to get in on the action too!

It’s not just the small birds that are less wary of people just now. W startled this buzzard out of a tree near Loch Kinord. Usually you just see them soaring – or sitting on a fencepost from the car.

Lift off!

Lift off!

The commonest view of a buzzard, soaring above the woods.

The commonest view of a buzzard, soaring above the woods.

And finally….as it’s almost Christmas….here’s the bird that features on most Christmas cards! Robins are a real Christmas symbol, which is kind of ironic given that they’re argumentative little so-and-sos (some people will  probably be thinking that’s appropriate right now!). The most likely reason is that Victorian postmen wore red jackets and were nicknamed “Robins” ….so the robin represented the posties delivering cards.

Have a happy Christmas an all the best for 2015.

It wouldn't be Christmas without a robin, would it....

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a robin, would it….

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