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Common dolphins © Christopher Swann

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A dolphin called Arnie with his shell.

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Common dolphins at surface

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Leaping harbour porpoise

The power of harbour porpoise poo

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Holly. Image: Miray Campbell

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Autumnal Sightings at the Scottish Dolphin Centre

We are well and truly into the thick of autumn now here at Spey Bay. The leaves are starting to change colour and fall off the trees. Walking along the River Spey our footsteps are complemented by the sounds of crunching leaves. Fungi has started sprouting up all along the woodland however I am yet to stumble across my favourite type fly agaric otherwise known as the fairy toadstool. The striking red and white colouration will truly stand out against the leaf litter on the woodland floor. However this particular fungi which is found in many children’s stories retains a dark side; hallucinogenic properties.

 

Nevertheless it is not just the impressive structures of the fly agaric that I will be looking out for; some other species are tucked away under branches. One species that springs to mind is called coral spot fungus. I saw this species at the beginning of the year when I first started here at Spey Bay but with fungi season in full swing I hope to start seeing more of the bright orange spots around. Some of these fascinating fungi species are not the easiest to spot but it is just a matter of taking your time and having a good old root around.

 

We are still pretty active here at Spey Bay dolphin-wise with a few pods being spotted almost every day! There have been a few cheeky harbour seals popping their heads up in the river as well this week seeing if they can catch themselves a tasty treat. The estuary is buzzing with bird life from redshanks, oystercatchers, goosanders and curlews. Three barnacle geese briefly stopped over a Spey Bay this week too. This species can be typically seen around Scotland from October to March as they migrate to Britain and Ireland to escape the even harsher winters of Greenland. Folklore depicted that because these adult geese arrived with no sign of nesting or goslings, they were said to either grow on trees or developed from the goose barnacles found on driftwood. One of our local volunteers and resident bird expert also spotted a sabine’s gull which is also known as a fork-tailed gull and is an artic species; making it a very cool spot here at Spey Bay. The robins have begun singing their hearts out to their autumn song. Robins can actually be heard singing all year round expect for a brief period during late summer when they begin to moult.  Pink footed geese have today begun to arrive at Spey Bay and if you look to the skies you can see them in their typical V-shaped formation flying over the estuary in large flocks.

 

The birds are calling, fungi are sprouting and even some of the plants are producing some last minute flowers; autumn has truly reawakened all the wildlife here at Spey Bay. Spey Bay is bustling with so many different sounds and colours making it an even more enchanting place to visit. So why not come across and pay us a visit and see what breath-taking encounters you will stumble across.

About George Berry

George is a member of WDC's Communications team and website coordinator.