This is one of the oldest woodlands in the Britain, renowned for its soaring Scots Pines, its stunning Ospreys, and abundance of wildlife. It is in the Eastern Highlands of Scotland and is home to some amazing plants and animals and offers one of the country's unique wildlife experiences. It is one of the last remnants of the Caledonian pine forest which once covered the country. The Abernethy Nature Reserve is situated in Strathspey.
It is now the largest remaining stretch of native pinewood in Britain. The Scots Pine is the largest and longest lived tree in the Caledonian pine forest, characterised by the distinctive pine cones at the end of their branches. The mature trees are easy to spot - they have a blue-green look to them, which distinguishes them from other conifers in the woods. During industrial times the trees were used as timber for shipbuilding, and their resin was used to make glue and other products.
Pines, birds, bugs and Martens
It has a diverse range for wildlife ranging from Red Squirrels who feed on the Scots Pines, Pine Martens and birds such as Grouse, Capercaillie and Ospreys.
Also look out for Pine Martens chasing small birds through the wooded canopy.
The woods support an array of specialist insects and plants.
There are also 700 types of fungi, 300 species of moths, 280 types of fly, 128 varieties of spider and 900 different types of beetle, including the Timberman with its impressive, long antennae and camouflage colouring.
When walking through the woods, look closely and you may spot a Crested Tit looking for bugs that live on Scots Pines, or prising open its pine cones to get at the seeds inside.
There's also a wealth of life on the forest floor from junipers through to blueberries (sometimes known as bilberries), which provide food for birds.
The forest is famous for its Ospreys which can be seen from the Osprey Centre during the season, with video pictures of the birds relayed back to the centre.
The forest is also a good place to find the Capercaillie, one of Britain's biggest birds, weighing in about the size of a turkey. Visitors can join a Caper Watch in one of the forest's hides to spot this elusive bird strutting its stuff during the breeding season.
The Black Grouse is another forest resident, though smaller in size than the Capercaillie. Listen out for its distinctive bubbling noise.
The best time to visit Abernethy is during the spring and summer months when you not only see birds, plants and insects, but you can also access the Osprey Centre and get a view of the Ospreys, if an early riser you can go on Capercaillie Watch, but also may see the red squirrels .
During the Autumn and Winter months the forest is still open and you get to see the wild geese roosting on Loch Garten in late afternoon/evening as well as Whooper Swans, roosting goosanders, wigeons etc. You may also get to see red and roe deer.
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