Here in the Cairngorms, I never feel it’s really winter unless there is snow lying on the ground or a hard frost. So the cold spell of the last couple of days is most welcome after the very wet and windy start to the year.
The light covering of snow provides great opportunities to find tracks of animals which might otherwise be quite elusive.
It’s great to find the footprints of otter and the ‘toboggan’ runs where they have clearly been sliding down the snow covered rocks at the side of the fast flowing water, showing what playful animals they can obviously be.
Elsewhere, red deer have wandered down to lower ground seeking food and shelter from the harsh conditions at higher altitude. Plenty of red squirrels too, still active, as they do not hibernate, finding buried seed cones or visiting the nut feeders around the estate buildings. 
The recent strong gales have blown over quite a few trees. Sad though it might appear, most of these trees, fallen or dead, still form an important element of our woodlands, providing a home and shelter for the incredibly diverse, and sometimes rare species of invertebrates, mosses, lichens and fungi that have been recorded here.
Ancient trees form an important link with the past - in fact, the oldest known tree on the estate is a gnarly scots pine high up in one of the glens. You wouldn’t think it to see it, twisted as it is and eking an existence out of the bouldery scree, but it has been reliably aged from dendrochronological research at over 530 years old.

In all, there is over 70,000 acres of Mar Lodge Estate, from the Arctic-like high tops of the mountains (four of the five highest British mountains) – to extensive heather moorland, native woods and upland rivers, including the source of the Dee.

We are looking forward to sharing some of that with you all as the home of Winterwatch next week.

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  • Comment number 10. Posted by simon

    on 23 Jan 2014 16:45

    Hi could anyone tell me if it is normal for robins to sing all night they have been doing it for about 3 weeks now

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  • Comment number 9. Posted by Hogmanny

    on 22 Jan 2014 23:10

    In the early 90, I worked at the Fife Arms in nearby (to Mar Lodge) Braemar. One night after our evening's entertainment had finished (Joss & Sandra - must've been a Wednesday) I was sat in the hotel lounge chatting to some residents, when a cat like creature caught my eye, gawking in the window from the raised street outside. I had to pinch myself when realised it was not a Moggy, but instead a, not so shy otter! Even with 20 or so excited hotel residents and staff gawking noisily back out at it, the otter was not phased and eventually sauntered off, I assume down into the nearby Clunie, the river which runs through the middle of the village. an awesome memory of a very special place.

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  • Comment number 8. Posted by Jonti

    on 22 Jan 2014 10:24

    In 1982 we had a fox enter our house via two cat flaps and steal a joint of roast beef which was defrosting on the side. It was about two in the morning. Heard a clatter downstairs, went down to investigate plate on the floor beef gone. In the morning we found the wrapper in the garden. The next night, on the way home, from a night out, we noticed a fox walking across the road in front of us going in the direction of our house. Built up Milton Keynes.

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  • Comment number 7. Posted by Jean

    on 22 Jan 2014 09:12

    Have to add to Ray's comment that Glasgow has a large population of inner city and suburban foxes.

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  • Comment number 6. Posted by mat

    on 22 Jan 2014 03:45

    Nice to see some of the other unique species of wildlife on Mar Lodge getting some acknowledgement. Having seen first-hand what a special place Mar Lodge is, it really makes me appreciate the hard work that all the staff on the estate put in to conserving the unique environments and flora and fauna.

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  • Comment number 5. Posted by Old greg

    on 21 Jan 2014 23:20

    When are we going to discuss what really goes on at the estate and how the reduction in the deer population has impacted on the surrounding estates we should also speak to the game keepers since the estate was set up an still Is primarally ran as a sporting estate and it my understanding that is to managed for that purpose in the future .old greg

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  • Comment number 4. Posted by nicky75

    on 21 Jan 2014 21:33

    you're a hunting lodge, stuff that. will be staying as far away from you as I can. The BBC shouldn't be giving you airtime or money

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by Ray

    on 21 Jan 2014 20:44

    Hi winter watch plenty of urban foxes in Edinburgh so further North than Newcastle!

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by Andy G

    on 20 Jan 2014 21:36

    Get up the Lairig Ghru to Devils Point. Wonderful place and good eagle viewpoint.

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by Trevor Eady

    on 20 Jan 2014 21:30

    We have Blue tits cleaning up the Bird box used by Blue tits last year. Obviously they think its spring or they want to get in a warm dry house.

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