Flora & Fauna in October

The red squirrel is one of Scotland’s most recognisable and popular mammals. It is Britain’s only native species of squirrel and Scotland boasts over 80 percent of the UK’s population. Did you know that young squirrels moult their ear tufts once a year?

In recent years the red squirrel has been forced from much of its original habitat since the introduction of its larger grey cousin from North America. More difficult to observe than greys, these woodland characters can be found in native Scots pine and oak woodland areas across Aberdeenshire, Dumfries & Galloway, the central Highlands and the Cairngorms National Park.

Come October barnacle geese, whooper swans and other wintering birds arrive in tens of thousands at Scottish nature reserves. In the salt marshes and mud flats of the Solway Coast in Dumfries & Galloway, the population of barnacle geese numbers up to 25,000 congregate. Look out for Icelandic whooper swans and pink-footed geese at nature reserves in Caerlaverock and Mersehead.

When common seals (also known as harbour seals) come to land they are found in shallow inland waters, hauled up on sandbanks or out on rocky outcrops on the west coast. Most pups are born in October and November, so look out for the fur-coated seal pups that nestle beside the adults.