It’s been another busy week on the reserve! Don’t know why I say that; it’ll be the case until, oooh, at least September, but that’s wildlife, visitors and growing grass for you. It’s been hard to pick a highlight this week, but the water lilies coming into bloom on Loch Kinord maybe just edges it….they make the loch look extra- beautiful and are one of my favourite flowers. Try and get out to see them if you can, they are well worth it.
Yet more baby birds are appearing….we had our first cygnets on Loch Davan. Mum’s got at least six here, and was very sensibly keeping them tucked away in the furthest corner of the loch- hence the very distant photo!
We also spotted our first fledged redstarts of the year. Like all of that family (they’re related to robins and stonchats) the young are brown and speckled, but you can still see the first hints of an orange tail. They were calling constantly, as some young birds do, with a distinctive “hooeet, tick, tick call”…though for the “tick”, imagine tutting at someone. Mum and dad were keeping up a supply of insects, as the young need to build up their strength in time to migrate to Africa over the winter.
Elsewhere, the lapwings also have chicks. These are very cute but please don’t go into the fields to look for them, the parents are already semi- hysterical when people walk past on the path!
More damselflies are emerging all the time. The electric- blue colours of the common blue damselfly have to be seen to be believed, it’s no wonder they get called “flying jewels”.
The hawthorn blossom is just going past it’s peak. Known also as “may” blossom, it’s what is referred to in poems and sayings, rather than the month of May. “Rough winds do shake the darling buds of may”…I wonder if anyone Shakespeare’s famous quote would be as well remembered if you substituted “darling buds of hawthorn?”
This is the season where you can see lots of white ‘umbellifers’…the white, hogweed-like flowers that lots of different plants have. One of our commonest is pignut. While often overlooked nowadays, it’s starchy, tuberous root would have been a vital source of food for our early ancestors. They taste a bit like a cross between Jerusalem artichoke and radishes if you’re brave enough to try one!
Yes, there is still one adder going about, basking in the usual spots, but getting harder and harder to spot as the grass gets longer.
Away from the wildlife, we’ve been busy with schools and various maintenance tasks. One of our volunteers, Duncan, is doing a sterling job ripping up old fences. Here’s Mary, another volunteer, helping to collect the wire together. It’s a two person job- old wire does NOT like being coiled up so was stuffed in the landrover with cries of “you hold it down and I’ll slam the door before it escapes!”
We’ve also cut the entire east and south shore sections of the Loch Kinord trail this week- the grass was getting too high and collapsing onto the path. It’s about 2km of strimming -twice- as you do both sides of the path, there and back. It’ll probably need done again within the month….but we really don’t want to think about that yet.
We’re also still busy with schools, three this week. Here’s one of the local primaries, picking their way carefully into the Vat (prior to splashing around furiously in it!)
And finally (and don’t hate me) more autumny signs, even though it’s just June…the bird cherry is now developing berries! So get out there quick and enjoy the summer while it lasts!