April Greys

Well, that’s a quarter of the year gone and we’re into April already. Where is the year going? Unfortunately, the start of April hasn’t been marked by fine weather though, we’ve had an umpteen shades of grey kind of week.

Loch Kinord looking west

Loch Kinord looking west

There’s been drizzle and the clouds are so low you feel like you’re scraping your head on the sky every day. It’s been fairly quiet, so I think it’s put some of the visitors off. But its breeding season and the wildlife is on a timetable of its own, regardless of the weather. April marks the “official” start of the bird breeding season as we can fairly confidently assume at least some of our resident birds will be nesting by now. For this reason, we ask visitors  to keep their dog under close control across the whole reserve and on a lead in certain extra-sensitive areas. Dogs are basically predators, as far as wildlife is concerned. Even if a dog won’t kill a bird or animal, it’ll terrify the wits out of it, and this sort of disturbance can lead birds to leave nests…and then eggs get chilled or taken by another predator. You can help by keeping your dog on a lead or at heel during this time… it would be much appreciated.

Breeding bird sign

Breeding bird sign

The chaffinches are in their spring finery now. It’s easy to overlook them- they’re one of our commonest birds, so we sometimes forget just what an attractive wee bird they are. The males are in full displaying mode now, and this one was busy telling the world that, yes, he is “pink, pink”. It’s a good way to remember their “pink” or “spink” call – they tell you what colour they are!

Male chaffinch in his spring finery

Male chaffinch in his spring finery

The goldeneye are still displaying too. A couple of males provided us with quite a bit of amusement, posturing to one another on either side of their territorial line. There are invisible lines across the loch -we can’t see them – but my goodness, the goldeneye know where they are. And heaven forbid another male gets too close to the line – then its head down, full steam ahead, dive… and try and torpedo your opponent.

Male goldeneye displaying, Loch Kinord

Male goldeneye displaying, Loch Kinord

The swans are still getting increasingly aggressive. They too have a set of invisible lines on the loch which mark “their”  patch, and this is a common sight if another swan strays over the line. Both of them will put their wings back and steam towards the intruder so fast they create a bow wave. Once she’s on eggs, he’ll defend her and their patch on his own until the young hatch, then it’s back to double trouble for any encroaching swan.

Under full sail - mute swans away to head off an intruder

Under full sail – mute swans away to head off an intruder

The trees are getting near and nearer bursting into leaf. Some of the elder bushes have already got leaves but it looks like the rowans will be the first proper tree to “burst” (into leaf) this spring.

A rowan tree on the verge of bursting into flower and leaf

A rowan tree on the verge of bursting into flower and leaf

And finally…another adder update. They haven’t been about much this week, with the exception of Monday afternoon, it’s been too cold and damp. But their eyes are still milky so they haven’t shed their skins yet. They’re still basking to warm up and the side-on shot here shows how they flatten their bodies to maximise the surface area they expose to the sun. Let’s hope next week brings a bit more sun for them and us all to enjoy!

Edge on adders

Edge on adders, flattened to increase surface area

Milky eyed adder

Milky eyed adder

 

 

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