Nature lovers, rejoice! If you didn’t already know that spring is now officially here, the fact that BBC’s SpringWatch is back on the telly should confirm it for you. As the familiar faces of Michaela Strachan and Chris Packham introduces us to some of the amazing seasonal changes taking place across the UK, we thought we’d share the best of natural Scotland in the springtime.
See a red squirrel chase
Love is in the air! The late winter months through to early spring is mating time for rare red squirrels. You might see these alert creatures darting through the trees and spiralling up and down the trunks, as the males chase after the females. The conifer forests of the Highlands and Dumfries & Galloway are some of the best places for squirrel spotting. Take a guided walk around Eskrigg Reserve, managed by the Lockerbie Wildlife Trust, at one of Dumfries & Galloway’s Wild Spring Festival events.
Stroll through a bluebell woodland
These delicate blooms, deep blueish-purple in colour with bell-shaped lobes, pop up in pretty meadows between April and June. You can admire these colourful carpets on woodland walks across the country. There are dozens of forest and parkland to choose from but why not explore the pathways of Culzean Country Park in Maybole, Ayrshire, Glasdrum Wood near Oban, Argyll, Fairy Glen near Fortrose in the Highlands, Glen Finglas in the Trossachs, or Cumbernauld Glen in North Lanarkshire?
Sail to a seabird colony
Seabird colonies come alive with thousands of seabirds during springtime, and the areas around Noss in Shetland and the Bass Rock, off East Lothian, are key colonies. Species to look out for include gannets, fulmers and guillemots. The Isle of May in the Firth of Forth and Staffa and the Treshnish Isles off the coast of Mull also welcome thousands of seabirds, including comical puffins (and who can resist a puffin?!), every year.
Spy soaring ospreys
Ospreys make their way back from southern climes around Africa during late March and April (leaving again in August and September), and can be spotted both in the Highlands and the Tweed Valley in the Scottish Borders. Loch Garten Osprey Centre, near Aviemore, is a great spot for sightings, as well as via tree top camera video feed at Kailzie Gardens near Peebles.
Catch sight of a capercaillie
Capercaillies, Scotland’s rarest grouse, gather at traditional breeding sites known as leks throughout the areas of Caledonian pine forest, particularly within the Cairngorms National Park. Loch Garten Osprey Centre lies within Abernethy Forest, where there are regular sightings. The males woo the females with a distinctive call that cannot be heard by humans.
Look for wading birds in the machair
You might have seen machair before without even knowing what it is! This is a rare coastal habitat which can be found on the coastlines of north west Scotland, particularly in the Outer Hebrides, on low lying, fertile beaches. In spring, it becomes a pretty meadow filled with delicate wild flowers, and is home to some species of migratory wading birds. Lapwings are just one type of wader that can be found in the machair around Barra and North Uist.
When you are out and about, be sure to have camera at the ready to capture your wildlife sightings. And, of course, then you can share them with us on through social media channels – connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Google+! Happy wildlife watching!