The BBC’s ‘Winterwatch’ is set to return to Upper Deeside for the second year in a row, filming at Mar Lodge Estate from January 19-22.
Mar Lodge in the Cairngorms is officially one of the coldest places in the UK, where winter hits hardest with the lowest ever temperature on the mainland UK, -27.2 degrees C, recorded there in 1982.
The light covering of snow provides great opportunities to find tracks of animals which might otherwise be quite elusive.
The naturalists will utilise the fauna rich national park to explore and document the winter survival strategies of Deeside’s wildlife.
Presenters Michaela Strachan, Chris Packham and Martin Hughes-Games use hidden cameras to show the life of local animals as they struggle with the winter onset.
Last year the television programme attracted an estimated audience of four million across the UK.
A BBC spokesperson said: “ Forget Christmas, it’s six weeks until Winterwatch!
“Winterwatch is returning live from January 19-22, 2015.
“We hope to see otters, pine martens, red squirrels, golden eagles, black grouse and, among other things, we’ll be upping the ante with the rodent assault course, now known as the ‘Iron Mouse Challenge’.”
The sprawling estate, near Braemar, is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. And its choice as the main location for the BBC2 nature series is set to provide a major tourism boost for Royal Deeside.
Mar Lodge was a sporting lodge originally built for the use of the Duke and Duchess of Fife about four miles to the west of Braemar. It is accessed from the Linn of Dee road, over the Victoria Bridge built across the River Dee in 1905.
The third Mar Lodge was damaged by a fire while being renovated in 1991, but was repaired.
It has recently been converted into holiday flats and retains many of the features of its heyday as a hunting lodge including its ballroom, which has 2435 red deer stags heads lining the walls and ceiling.
The estate is huge, covering 29,000 hectares, and incorporates 15 munros - including five of the highest peaks in the UK.
A BBC spokesperson said: “Where better to examine the impact of harsh winter weather on our wildlife.”
The programme will also provide advice on what you can do to help local and garden wildlife during winter.’’