A Mild Winter January – 9th January 2017
A MILD WINTER JANUARY
The hill is almost in hibernation just now. Very little life to be seen on the open hill apart from deer, hares, grouse, a wide variety of raptors and many,many ravens.
The ravens are paired up and wont be long before they start mating (Britain’s earliest nesters).
The open winter in this area is making the hind cull very difficult. The deer stay as high up and as far out as they can get away with. You might think this is a good thing, but if we under-cull, the population rises and over-grazing, habitat loss can result. In the long term the whole herd will be in poorer condition and more susceptible to disease and starvation should a ‘proper’ winter come along.
To help alleviate this, deer have their own coping mechanism. It’s a physiological change brought about by the change in daylight hours. It’s called ‘winter inappetance’ and does what it says on the tin; gives them a reduced appetite in a time when food is scarcer/ has less nutrition. In some winters this- and the resulting lack of energy- can result in a slowing down of their willingness to escape danger. This winter there has been little obvious sign of their condition deteriorating- and they are as wild as sparrowhawks!
The lack of snow doesn’t do the Mountain Hares any favours either. They are pure white just now and stick out like sore thumbs.
The mild winter has also been blamed for one of the local farmers losing a few sheep to pneumonia.
I know there is plenty of winter left but it has been nice to see that thus far the rabbits haven’t been desperate enough to be ‘ringing’ (eating the bark) the young trees that are starting to get a foothold. Woodland regeneration is an uphill battle in these parts.
Glenesk Wildlife Tour Guide and Gamekeeper (Invermark)