It’s always exciting in spring, when you see new plants, animals and bird appearing on the reserve. Or not even appearing, just becoming obvious after a winter of being quiet or asleep. But I wish some of our visitors were still asleep – we had a nasty incidence of littering over the weekend, with a heap of beer and drink cans chucked in the loch. It’s so disappointing that some people are so irresponsible and selfish.
The long-tailed tit flocks have split up now and the birds are travelling in pairs. Their nests are notoriously difficult to find and the nearest I’ve ever seen is birds gathering lichen to build their nest. They use lichen and moss and spiders ’webs to hold it all together.
The pied wagtails and meadow pipits are also setting up territories near the celtic cross. The wagtails will probably nest in the dyke there (not necessarily a good idea with all the adders about), while the meadow pipits nest on the ground in the Old Kinord fields. Meadow pipits are your classic “small brown job” type of bird – they don’t have flashy plumage and their song isn’t even all that pretty. It’s a hard life as a meadow pipit – everything eats you, they’re a favourite food of birds of prey. But they are successful – they are one of the commonest birds on hills and moors.
More migrants are trickling back into the reserve. The first osprey and sand martins were seen on Tuesday, 8th April, a few days earlier than last year. We heard the first willow warbler on the 7th and there have been chiffchaffs singing around Burn o Vat all week. It’s always exciting to see the first migrants coming back. The ospreys, martins and willow warblers have all travelled thousands of miles here from Africa and its astounding to think they do this every spring and autumn.
However, some other migrants are departing. These whooper swans dropped in briefly on their way north to breeding ground in Iceland.
A quick check on the frogspawn we rescued shows that it’s starting to develop into tadpoles. It’s still nice and wet there, and it’s not a great photo as I was getting that “eeugh, the water is seeping into my boots” feeling at that point!
There are still plenty of adders on the reserve, including the biggest adder I’ve ever seen. It’s hard to judge size from a picture – often the adders and lizards look like something out of Jurassic Park in a picture, but they can be tiny! Not this adder….it must have been easily in excess of 75 cm and being flattened out in the sun makes it look even bigger.