We're incredibly excited that BBC Winterwatch will be showcasing the incredible wildlife of Cairngorms National Park at the end of the month. RSPB Scotland's Jennifer Mullen tells us about the incredible habitat and wildlife to be found there.

Winterwatch comes to the Cairngorms National Park

After months of excited anticipation, there is now only a couple of weeks to go before BBC Winterwatch arrives in the Scottish Highlands to broadcast live from the Cairngorms National Park. For four nights from 29th January, Chris, Michaela and Gillian will bring to life the amazing wildlife that calls this extreme environment home in the toughest of seasons.

That’s not all though! The team will return to the area for Springwatch and Autumnwatch to showcase how these species adapt throughout the changing seasons. The Cairngorms is an amazing place for nature and there’s an exciting new project underway to help the iconic species and habitats it is home to.

Loch Morlich, Cairngorms National Park © Will Copestake Media

Cairngorms Connect is the biggest habitat restoration project in Britain, covering a vast 600sq.km of contiguous land within the Cairngorms National Park. We are excited to be a part of this project along with partners Wildland Limited, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forest Enterprise Scotland. Together, we share an ambitious 200-year vision to create a seamless landscape for nature that is resilient to climate change.

BBC Winterwatch will be taking a look at some of the incredible diversity of wildlife that lives within this landscape. Around 5,000 species have been recorded there with about 20% being Nationally Rare or Scarce. Some of those species, like the Scottish crossbill, are recorded nowhere else in the UK.

White-tailed eagle. Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)

In winter, golden and white-tailed eagles soar on the clear days in between stormy weather; pine martens creep and sprint across snow-covered ground, and red squirrels jump from treetop to treetop. Ptarmigan, masters of disguise, will be shedding their rocky-grey summer feathers and turning snow-white to blend in with the changing weather and survive wind-chills of around minus 40 degrees Celsius on the high mountain tops. The Caledonian pine forest is home to crested tits, waxwings, coal tits, winter thrushes and more. All must work to combat harsh conditions and temperatures that can go down to as much as minus 15 degrees Celsius.

Our Insh Marshes and Abernethy reserves are part of the amazing Cairngorms area, and with the Loch Garten Osprey Centre also celebrating its 60th anniversary in the spring 2019 promises to be a very exciting year for this part of Scotland.

Ptarmigan © Will Copestake Media

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  • The Cairngorms National Park should be the crown in the jewels of National Parks. I sincerely hope that Cairngorms Connect can show how this should be done. If it manages to increase biodiversity, provides examples of good management,  but still has within it and is surrounded by sinks for raptors, Pine Martens and other 'vermin', the result will be much less than satisfactory. Those showing the way should be encouraged, and those who oppose any environmentally aware land management changes challenged to perform at least in accord with the law, and preferably as well as Cairngorm Connect..

    At least in Scotland, there is hope.