NA­TURE NOTES

Monthly high­lights to look for by TOM BAI­LEY – Trail’s four-sea­son pho­tog­ra­pher

Trail (UK) - - Base Camp -

RED DEER

In late Septem­ber/early Oc­to­ber you be­gin to hear the most bizarre sound in the moun­tains – it will in­evitably arouse your cu­rios­ity. The red deer rut is dra­matic. Stags move into the ar­eas where the hinds live. They roar and clash antlers with ri­val males, thick-necked and in the prime of con­di­tion. This is the time to see red deer and Scot­land is the strong­hold of the largest of our deer species.

RED­WINGS

One of the high­lights of my year is the ar­rival of red­wings. They mi­grate at night, es­cap­ing harsh win­ters in the north. These berry-eat­ing thrushes favour clear star­lit nights to make their jour­neys. Stand out­side on such a night in Oc­to­ber, par­tic­u­larly in Scot­land and you’ll hear a thin, ‘seep-ip’ call, in­vis­i­ble in the dark­ness of the night sky – these are red­wings. More than once, I have had close en­coun­ters with these birds high in the Scot­tish moun­tains.

ROWAN (MOUN­TAIN ASH)

Spot orange or red berries hung heav­ily on a medium-to-small sized tree in a moun­tain en­vi­ron­ment and you’ll un­doubt­edly be look­ing at the rowan. A pale grey bark with hor­i­zon­tal stri­a­tions marks out this tree of great su­per­sti­tion. In Scot­land, it’s con­sid­ered bad luck to cut back any rowan grow­ing close to the home. Spring sees the trees heavy with white blos­som and the Oc­to­ber fruits mir­ror this pro­fu­sion. Red­wings love the berries. A tree to be re­spected, be­cause you never know...

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