Showers and Scratchy Bites!

Well, we entitled last week’s blog “New Life on the Reserve” and there certainly is. Unfortunately, it’s of the biting variety- the mosquitoes have emerged in the damp, humid weather. And I already have several itchy lumps to testify to the fact! The midges aren’t out – yet – but the seemingly Lancaster bomber- sized mozzies are making their presence felt. No photos, I’m afraid, my first reaction is to attempt to splatter them, not record them for posterity. We had a school group out this week, and they were asking what the mosquitoes were….stand still for a couple of minutes and you soon find out!

Even more of the geese seem to have produced babies. There are several “creches” of gosling on Loch Kinord just now, all with an accompanying flotilla of protective adults.

Proud parents

Proud parents

The mistle thrushes are almost fledged as well. There are at least three in the nest. although only one ever seems to peer over the top at any one time. They have all their adult feathers except for a rather funky set of white fluffy eyebrows, as it’s one of the few places they can’t reach to preen off the down.

Young mistle thrush, with a set of very fluffy eyebrows.

Young mistle thrush, with a set of very fluffy eyebrows.

Although the swallows aren’t nesting on the reserve (they prefer the houses around it) they have been popping down to collect mud for their nests. We’re so used to seeing them zooming about in flight, it’s easy to forget what a beautiful bird they are close-up.

Swallows gathering mud

Swallows gathering mud

The male swans, the ‘cobs’, are now aggressively defending their mates (the ‘pens’), who are sitting on eggs. There are more swans than usual on Loch Davan this year, there seems to be a patch of neutral water between territories – and this is where all the juvenile swans hang out. Of course, if they drift out of neutral territory, over comes the nearest male to sort them out.

A male mute swan, under full sail

A male mute swan, under full sail

The lapwings are also defending their territory. Should any crow or buzzard fly over, they all rise up to see it off. But they often fly close to visitors too, just checking you out, as you walk past their fields.

Incoming lapwing! They have a close look at you as you walk past, in case you're a threat.

Incoming lapwing! They have a close look at you as you walk past, in case you’re a threat.

There are at least three pairs of starlings nesting between New and Old Kinord. They’re all up trees, in old woodpecker holes, and you can hear the scratchy wheezing of the young as they get fed for quite a long way. But going in and out of a crowded, sometimes poo-ey hole, is hard work, and they stop off at the loch for a quick wash and brush up. Bizarrely, they often pick during a rain shower to do so- you’d think they’d get clean just staying out in the thunderplumps!

Having a very vigorous bath!

Having a very vigorous bath!

The punk look! Wet starling after bathing.

The punk look! Wet starling after bathing.

We also had a lovely view of a tawny owl this week. It had been discovered by the aforementioned mistle thrushes, and my goodness, they can’t half make a racket. Their alarm call has been likened to and old-fashioned football rattle and that’s not too far off…a loud, penetrating rattle you can here a long way off. They clearly weren’t happy about something and closer inspection of the tree turned up this beautifully camouflaged tawny owl. Maybe it’s because you only ever see them looking down on you, but they often seem to have an expression of supreme distaste! Can’t an owl get a decent day’s sleep around here? First those noisy thrushes then you lot!

A beautifully camouflaged tawny owl

A beautifully camouflaged tawny owl

Only seen one adder this week (see below) but haven’t really had time to look. We’ve been setting up for the big Cairngorms Nature Festival this Saturday…see this link http://cairngorms.co.uk/look-after/cairngorms-nature/festival for more info and there are still a  few places left on some of the events! Its all free, why not come along and join in the fun?

Adder basking Monday morning

Adder basking Monday morning

 

Putting up the bunting! All ready for Saturday's Cairngorms Nature Festival

Putting up the bunting! All ready for Saturday’s Cairngorms Nature Festival

 

This entry was posted in Muir of Dinnet NNR and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.