New Leaves and New Arrivals

I’ve been in denial. I’ve been looking out of the window for about a fortnight thinking” it’s not growing, it’s not growing” …but it is and the grass at the visitor centre needed its first cut of the year!

All neat and tidy!

All neat and tidy!

It was a gorgeous Easter weekend and we were really busy with visitors – spent most of Friday chatting with folk (the nice ones) and most of Monday clearing up after some of more annoying ones. It’s a shame a tiny percentage of people can’t take their litter away. The fine weather over the weekend, followed by a bit of damper weather in the week has fairly brought on the trees- the leaves are just bursting an lots of trees will be in full leaf by next week. The mornings have started misty but the sun has come out later in the day, and there’s nothing like the colours of new, fresh, spring green leaves in the sun, against a blue sky…one of life’s simple pleasures. Along with autumn, it’s when the woods look at their best.

One of this week's misty mornings at Loch Kinord

One of this week’s misty mornings at Loch Kinord

A wild cherry or gean tree in blossom

A wild cherry or gean tree in blossom

New leaves bursting on the birch trees

New leaves bursting on the birch trees

Hazel leaves bursting in the sun

Hazel leaves bursting in the sun

A few more spring flowers have come out. The slightly odd-looking blaeberry flowers will make tasty berries by July, and the wood sorrel has also come out. Sometimes known as “bread and cheese”, the new leaves have a tangy, sweet-sour taste and were often chewed by children and adults alike.

Blaeberry flowers

Blaeberry flowers

Wood sorrel

Wood sorrel

More of our migrants have come back. I think the only missing one now is the cuckoo and I’d expect to hear one any day. I heard the first tree pipits last Friday and it would have been hard not to! They closely resemble their resident cousins meadow pipit and are an unassuming small brown bird until they open their beak. They have a lovely, strident descending song, and sing loudly from three tops and the edges of clearings. Bogingore is one of the best places on the reserve to watch them “parachute” displaying and hear them singing.

Tree pipit

Tree pipit

The redstarts are also back. Probably the most spectacular of our small migrants, the males are surprisingly difficult to spot, given their bright red colour.

A male redstart, probably our handsomest migrant bird

A male redstart, probably our handsomest migrant bird

And our largest migrant – an osprey going between the lochs to fish.

Osprey, heading between the two lochs.

Osprey, heading between the two lochs.

The adders are starting to disperse after mating now. We’re seeing far more females than males (I think they tend to hang around their hibernation areas more) but we did spot this rather smart fellow basking on the dyke. A visitor also kindly pointed out this young female that I’d walked past. She’s lovely…only about a handspan long, probably born last autumn and looks like she’s made from brown velvet.

Can you spot him? It can be surprisingly easy to walk past basking adders.

Can you spot him? It can be surprisingly easy to walk past basking adders.

Young female adder, probably born last year. Only about 10-15 cm long.

Young female adder, probably born last year. Only about 10-15 cm long.

Speaking of velvet, we were also lucky enough to spot this handsome roebuck in velvet. He was watching another group of visitors and didn’t see us, as least for long enough to grab a picture! Like the larger red deer, roe deer grow new antlers each year. When they are finished growing, the velvet shreds off and the antlers are read to duel with other males in the rut.

Roebuck in velvet

Roebuck in velvet

 

 

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