With its highly varied scenery Glenlivet Estate is a very special place for wildlife. Up on the high moors, if you are sharp eyed and very lucky, you may spot a mountain hare, black grouse, or even a golden eagle passing by. In the woods and valleys red squirrels, pine martins, otters and dippers along the River Avon, may also reward those who patiently wait.
We are very fortunate at Balneden as many birds and animals come and go throughout the year, with some choosing to stay year-round. Spring and Summer can be magical - with swallows and house martins swirling and diving for insects over-head, buzzards calling from up high, the twittering of pied wagtails as they teach their young to fly, the flocking and chatting of lapwings and oystercatchers down in the field below, the scurrying of stoats as they frantically try and find enough food for their young, or the roe deer when they come out to graze at dawn or dusk. Autumn and Winter has its own surprises too – redwings may pass by to gorge on the berries, as too will mistle thrushes and blackbirds, robins call, while the brown hare may make a dashing appearance if you are lucky.
With views second to none, each season also brings its own palate of colours. The fresh greens of spring give way to a multitude of colour during the summer months. The purple heather clad hill tops of late summer gradually turn into golden tones of autumn. Winter has its own appeal too, with frosty mornings and the prospect of a snow blanket that makes the world look so serene. You will never be disappointed whatever season you visit!
Our skies are rather special too, as our area has been awarded as an official “Dark Sky Discovery Site”. Step outside on a dark clear night and you’ll see why – the milky way and all the constellations are so bright, it is really an amazing experience.
Close to home the Loch Garten Osprey Centre is a must for wildlife watchers, particularly in the spring when the ospreys arrive back from a long winter in Africa. You can even get up extra early to see Capercaillie lekking – what a treat!
Further afield the Moray Dolphin Coast calls. You could enjoy a trip to Spey Bay and the Dolphin Centre. The centre tells the story of the local fishermen, with guided tours of the largest ice-house in the country. Spey Bay is also a feeding ground for dolphins and ospreys, so be patient and you may even spot them during your visit. There is a resident pod of dolphins that live in and around the Moray Firth, so if you do not manage to track them down at Spey Bay there are plenty of other places you can explore – apparently 1hr after low tide is the best time to see them. Good luck!