Autumn days

This season offers some of the greatest wildlife spectacles – the Red Deer Rut-, as well as many opportunities to catch a glimpse of the elusive otters.

Otters are easier to spot during this season. © Ashley Smith
A group of whooper swans. © Ashley Smith
Red deer stag. © Ashley Smith

When my children were small my youngest son went through a phase of asking everyone he met what was their second favourite animal, second favourite food or even their second favourite football team. I could never quite understand why he wanted to know what their second favourite was rather than their first.

Now I find myself writing this article by telling you all that Autumn is my second favourite season. Perhaps it’s genetics!

I adore the fresh mornings of Autumn, saying goodbye to the summer visiting wildlife like the swallows that congregate on the power lines preparing for their long flight back to Africa. Seeing the Hen Harrier come down from the hills and having the delight of watching them hunt along the river valleys throughout the Autumn. They truly live up to their name of sky hunter.

The evocative sound of the whooper swans returning never fails to make me look towards the sky. It doesn’t seem so long ago that they were making their way to their summer breeding grounds.

Our otters start to become less elusive in Autumn as the days get shorter and somewhat colder, these charismatic animals need to feed for longer at this time of year and this gives us more of an opportunity to watch them hunting in the Kyle. There is also a good chance of seeing a mother otter with her cubs.

In the evenings there is always the chance of watching a Barn Owl hunting over the grasslands. At this time of year the young owlets are now becoming independent of their parents and searching for new territories of their own.

My Autumn highlights would of course not be complete without mention one of Scotland greatest wildlife spectacles, the Autumn Red Deer Rut. To be able to witness the stags in combat with one another or listen to the sound of a roaring stag in the glens is what makes the Kyle of Sutherland such a wonderful place to live.

On reflection I think changed my mind, Autumn is now officially my first favourite season.

by Ashley Smith

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