It’s been an insanely busy week on the reserve, one of those weeks where you could have a blog’s worth of pictures by Monday…lots coming up! It started on Saturday, with around 200 visitors enjoying the Cairngorms Nature Festival activities held at the Burn o Vat. From guided walks to natural crafts, a fun time seemed to be had by all. We’ve also had a few education groups in this week too, from primary schools to secondary schools and university students. It’s always a challenge to pitch the education to the right level, and remember not to say to university students “now make sure you use the toilet before we head off….”.
It’s also been a pretty busy week for the wildlife. One of our latest migrants to arrive, the spotted flycatchers, appeared over the weekend, and almost managed to elude me with the camera!
Still at least one adder basking in the usual spots. This one looked particularly fat (rather than maximising-surface- area flat) and maybe that’s why it’s basking – it’s sleeping off a big meal.
Insects are also emerging all over the place. They look freshly minted at this stage, and the peacock butterfly is one of the most beautiful. There are lots of orange tips around the Burn o Vat, and we saw this pair of green-veined white butterflies mating on a comfrey plant. You often hear white butterflies called “cabbage whites” but there are actually 3, maybe 4 different kinds of butterfly that might be called that- the large white, the small white, the orange tip (the females don’t have any orange) and the green-veined white.
The first dragonflies have also emerged. The four-spotted chasers are zooming around Parkin’s Moss like miniature helicopters, catching and eating mosquitoes in flight. There’s a good reason to like them if ever there was! The damselflies are also emerging. I’ve only seen the large reds so far, but it won’t be long until the rare northern blue damselfly, emerald damselfly and common blue emerge too. They are the most fantastic colour and really are like miniature flying jewels.
The aspen trees are finally coming into leaf. Usually, it’s a toss-up between ash and aspen, which is the last to come out…but the ash will be latest this year.
Birds like willow warbler, redstart and reed bunting are still displaying, but several species of bird already have young.
The long tailed tits and mistle thrushes are well fledged now, and starting to become independent. However, the prize for by far and away the cutest babies goes to the goldeneye- their little black-and-white ducklings are absolutely gorgeous. Hopefully there will be several more broods still to come, as this is the first one we’ve seen.