Photography by Ron Allner, The Studio, Killin. Please call 01567 820820 if you would like to use some of these images.
These creatures are native to Britain , but there are only about 140,000 left (at a rough estimate) compared to over 2.5 millions grey squirrels. They build nests in the trees, and are prey to such animals as goshawks and other birds of prey. They eat a wide variety of food, including pine cones, fungi and seeds. They are able to identify good and bad nuts and do not hibernate, but rather eat a lot during the autumn to bulk up, ready for the winter.
The roe deer became extinct in England during the 1700s, but they survived in the Central and Northern Highlands . There are now around half a million roes in Britain . They are woodland creatures, though some colonise in more open areas, and they establish their territory at the end of April, so this is an important time of year for them. They are herbivores and their natural predators, such as wolves, are now extinct in Britain .
The largest land mammal in Britain , red deer are mostly found in Scotland , with only a small number in Wales and England . They were originally woodland dwellers, but many have moved to the open hills because of deforestation. Like the roe, red deer are herbivores and so eat a wide variety of plants, like grass and shrubs. Though their natural predators are extinct in Britain , young deer are very occasionally hunted by eagles and foxes.
Hopefully you all know that stags are male deer!
They are often seen in the area, and can be recognised by their enormous antlers. They tend to rut (mate) from late July to mid September – the calves are then born in May or June the following year.
Pine Martens are members of the weasel family, native to Europe . They tend to live in wooded areas and have semi-retractable claws. The main threats to a Pine Marten are golden eagles, foxes, and – most of all – humans, because of their fur and their tendency to cause a disturbance in human settlements. They do, however, help reduce the number of grey squirrels, therefore helping the native red squirrels to thrive. This is because grey squirrels spend much more time on the ground, where the Pine Marten hunt for prey.
A large bird of prey with a wingspan of more than 2 metres, almost all the golden eagles in the UK reside in Scotland . They prefer open areas to lowland forests, and their territory size can be anything from 5 to 150 square kilometres. Scottish golden eagles do not migrate, but stay in their breeding lands all year round. They will eat pretty much anything that's available, from rabbits to snakes. The main threat to these birds is human activity, for instance poison and shooting. For this reason, they make their nests in secluded, inaccessible places.
Ospreys are fish-eating birds that have been in Scotland since 1951 and are now slowly spreading southwards into England . Unlike golden eagle territories, osprey territories are quite small. They mainly reside near water, but will also make their nests on the edges of forests and woodland glades, in a dead tree. They migrate to West Africa in the early autumn, so that they are safe from the cold Scottish winters. They have no natural predators, like the eagles, their biggest threat is human activity.
Buzzards are large birds of prey that are found all over Europe . In Britain alone, there are around 40,000 breeding pairs. They breed in woodland, but prefer to hunt in open areas. Their diet consists of a vast number of animals, from snakes to rabbits, from worms to pheasants. Buzzards are monogamous; they stay with one partner for life. They are extremely protective of their territory, so fights do break out if an intruder enters a pair's territory. The males also have a way of impressing the females, at the beginning of spring, they do an aerial display, where they rise high into the sky, then plummet straight downwards, spiralling as they go.
Red Kites at Argaty
To get to Argaty, travel south on the A84 through Callander, Buchany and Doune, and eventually, signs will direct you to the “Argaty Red Kite Viewing.” It is the only red kite feeding station in Central Scotland and is worth the visit.
Red kites are wide-ranging birds, and though quite large, they are neither strong nor aggressive. Their only requirement for a nest is a large tree with good, open access, where it is possible to build a nest at least 10 metres off the ground. Their diet consists of a wide variety of animals, including earthworms, rabbits, voles and small birds. Again, their main threat is human activity, although sometimes they are targeted by goshawks.
Numerous small garden birds
These include the chaffinch, greenfinch, robin, swallow and blue tit. See how many you can spot!