Allan Bantick OBE welcomes you to the Cairngorm Wildlife Diary for 2021

Most of the badger sightings mentioned here were made at the Strathspey Badger Hide. If you would like to go, click here for booking details.

Locations of sensitive nests and dens are kept deliberately vague for obvious reasons. If you have a bona fide reason for more detail please let me know. 

The diary will usually be updated daily.   For comments on wider issues and for images and videos, please follow  @AllanBoat  on Twitter or Allan Bantick on Facebook or go to my YouTube channel.


Fri 1st to Sun 10th January 2021
Saturday 2nd.  Checked the camera  at the golf club.  No wildlife action so I removed it.  Lots of wildlife footprints in the snow all over the course including rabbit, hare, roe deer and fox.  Also lots of skiing tracks too which will not please the green keeper.  Decided that I would go back and reset the camera in a new place to try to capture some winter activity while we still had snow.
Sunday 3rd.   Set up the camera by the 7th fairway at the golf club. AGC. 
Tues 5th.  Checked the camera at the golf club.  No wildlife and no skiers recorded.  Took some snowy footage while I was there and put together a movie for Facebook and Twitter that evening.
Weds 6th.  Decided to enter the 100km in 30 days challenge, organised by the RAF School of PT.  Details of entry were a it sketchy but sent some emails off to check.
Thurs 7th.  Registered for the100km  challenge.  Downloaded a fitness app onto my phone to help with recording, which will be backed up on the GPS and hand-written into a table each day to be sure.  Paranoid or what!  Anyhow, there's not much conservation work going on right now; Covid 19 and snow and ice have combined to make things quite difficult so we are more or less staying indoors apart from dog walking for exercise and the odd trip to the village shop.  We get our main shopping online with Tesco.
Mon 11th to Sun 17th Jan 2021.
Very little to report this week.  We were basically keeping our heads down due to lock-down and feeding the birds.  The 100km challenge is going well but every inch of the 45 km walked up to Saturday was covered by trudging through snow and ice which made it much more of a challenge than expected.  Lots of animal tracks in the snow, mostly roe deer and rabbits but two days on a row there were unmistakable tracks of a fox determinedly heading in a straight line, as they do.   On Saturday I removed the trail cam from the golf club; the only footage taken was of roe deer wandering around in the snow and fog, none of which was worth keeping.
Mon 18th to Sun 24th Jan 2021
Snow was very much the order of the day throughout the week, making practical conservation difficult and my walking challenge really challenging.  One significant event was my decision to step down from the Board of Trustees of Scottish Badgers.  The organisation is doing a terrific job and I'm proud to have played a part but I am tired and strongly wish to retire and simply do things that take my fancy.  Since leaving school in 1957 I have been engaged in public service of one kind or another without a break so I'm due timek in which to just sleep, chill, play golf, take photographs and make movies, as it suits me.  On a practical wildlife front, the dogs and I found the remains of a recently kill woodcock in the woods which brought me to wonder how our badgers were faring. They have not had to suffer a winter like this one for many years and we might find the family has shrunk somewhat when we next go to watch them.  On that subject, I had intended to set up one of the new trail cameras at the main sett but heavy snow that day meant the B970 was impassable so the idea was shelved.  Instead I took videos of robins and the dogs in the snow and posted them online.  The Guyana movie had really begun to take shape by the end of the week with just the selection of images from the last two phases of the trip to complete before getting down to the editing and the music.  Even so, the job is unlikely to be finished for at least another two weeks.  Next in line are movies from our trips to Ecuador and Zambia.  Looking ahead to future trips, I had my first Covid 19 vaccination on Fri 22nd Jan which was marvelous.  I just hope Heather's name comes up soon for her first one.  Also on Friday I attended a scoping meeting for a proposed new Bat Conservation Group in the Cairngorms.  I managed to avoid going on the committee but others volunteered so it will probably happen which will be really good.  I also took steps that day to express support for a new consultation project for the possible reintroduction of lynx to Scotland.  The consultation is being organised by Vincent Wildlife Trust, Scotland Big Picture and Trees For Life who have a much more credible plan than the nutcases who had previously tried to force the lynx issue without making any attempt to involve either the public or those who would be most affected by having lynx in their district.  Watch this space.