Forest birding in a former aristocratic retreat
This stretch of magical Perthshire forest was originally designed as a pleasure ground in the 18th Century for the Dukes of Atholl. Douglas Firs tower over the paths leading to the roaring Black Linn Falls, where the River Braan crashes down into the deep, foaming pools below. Overlooking the waterfall is the picturesque folly known as Ossian’s Hall, built in 1757 as the focal point in an extensive designed landscape. With the firs dominating the first part of the walk, it may make it hard hunting for birds, but the river should supply both Dipper and Grey Wagtail, along with Goosander chasing the small fish. Douglas Fir cones provide food for Crossbills, Siskin and even Red Squirrels. The new clear fell across the river has the potential of adding some good spring migrants like Cuckoo, Tree Pipit and also Whitethroat. Oak woodland survives on steep sides of the river and may add a few interesting species like Pied Flycatcher and Redstart. Goldcrests love these conifers and may be easier once you reach a younger plantation, where both Willow Warbler and redpoll were found on my visit. With open areas, scan for raptors with Buzzard, Goshawk and Sparrowhawk likely along with Osprey and Red Kite. Autumn sees the returning salmon leaping up the falls and onto their spawning grounds. An Otter hunting them is a good bet on an evening walk. Both Pine Marten and Roe Deer are likely.