SET WITHIN THE Cairngorm National Park, Glenmore Forest Park combines the wilderness found in tracts of ancient Caledonian forest and mountain moorland with the convenience of a visitor centre and a full range of facilities around the main car park. Check the bird feeders at the café for Crested Tit, Siskin and Red Squirrel. Loch Morlich even has a beach, which can be packed with tourists on warm summer days! However, once you’re clear of the car parks, the commercial pine plantations close in and walkers have the place to themselves. Crossbills and Crested Tits are a given in the conifers, but Capercaille may prove more difficult. Areas of open Birch scrub along the way harbour good numbers of Willow Warblers and Siskins and Black Grouse often frequent adjacent bogs and rough terrain. A trail follows a stream tumbling down the hillside, and then travels north-east along a rocky ridge with views across mountain crags and scree covered slopes of Creag a Chalamain. Pretty much any bird you encounter here will be a quality sighting, such as Ring Ouzel or even a Golden Eagle, and, recently, I was surprised to find a Hen Harrier.
3Scan the open country to the south for hunting raptors such as Buzzard, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Peregrine. Black Grouse occur here, plus Stonechat, Whinchat, Meadow and Tree Pipits. Grey Wagtail, Common Sandpiper, Dipper and Goosander are regularly noted along the stream.
This is usually a good spot for moorland birds, typically Whinchat, Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Red Grouse, Merlin, Curlew and Golden Plover. It’s also worth checking crags and rock faces for Ring Ouzel, Raven and Peregrine. Golden Eagle has also been seen here so keep a close look out – you never know!
4Visit early morning before the loch gets disturbed by watersports
Crested Tit Red Squirrel