Holiday season

It’s always a good week when you see an osprey catch a fish while you’re down by the loch. This one landed a pike that any fisherman would have been proud of!

That's one pike less in the loch! Osprey with a large pike.

That’s one pike less in the loch! Osprey with a large pike.

The start of July marks the last week of term and it’s one of the milestones of the year when you have your last group in before the summer holidays. It’s also nice to see more and more fledged birds on the reserve, although some of these could be second broods by now. The redstart and the mallards are very likely to be a second brood, either because the adults have already fledged their first young or lost them to a predator.

newly- fledged redstart

Newly- fledged redstart

Mum mallard with 5 fairly freshly- hatched ducklings

Mum mallard with five fairly freshly- hatched ducklings

Some birds, especially larger birds, like the mute swans, will only have time to raise one brood in a season. This one seems to be doing well, with eight partially –grown cygnets. I know there are only seven in the picture, but one was feeding with its head under the water for ages, and by the time it surface, mum and all its siblings had moved off. It had to paddle like the blazes to catch up!

Mute swan with seven cygnets

Mute swan with seven cygnets

It’s a good time for butterflies- there are still a few small pearl-bordered fritillaries around, there are ringlets everywhere and lots of small heaths on the wing. I also saw my first dark green fritillary of the year this week and a northern brown argus as well- quite a rare spot on the NNR. The ringlets are by far the commonest, they are everywhere in grassy places right now.

Ringlet butterflies mating

Ringlet butterflies mating

Small heath butterfly. They always land with their wings closed.

Small heath butterfly. They always land with their wings closed.

Some wildflowers are still coming out and at their best, like this water forget-me-not, while the raspberries are busy producing fruit for autumn.

Looks like a good crop of rasps later in the year

Looks like a good crop of rasps later in the year

Water forget-me-nots

Water forget-me-nots

The water lilies are still looking lovely- but are a little reluctant to open on cloudy days.

Still waters, reflecting the bog bean and water lilies

Still waters, reflecting the bog bean and water lilies

Recently, I’ve had people comment about the amount of dog poo around the loch. Now, while I realise some owners don’t pick up after their dogs, it’s never been enough to cause comment before, so we checked it out. And yes, there is a lot of poo on the loch shore- but the culprits are the geese! Now they’ve bred, they have started moulting their feathers. They’re not very active when they moult and spend a lot of time loafing on the shore- and pooing! There’s unfortunately not a lot we can do about this but they will spend less time on the shore once their new feathers grow back.

Goose poo!

Goose poo!

The perpetrators of the poo

The perpetrators of the poo

Speaking of goose feathers, a couple were collecting them to fletch arrows, they do medieval – style archery. Apparently, to fletch an arrow, you need feathers that come from the same side, left or right, of a goose. Feathers from different wings don’t work, the arrow won’t fly.

Moult time. The greylag geese are shedding their feather just now.

Moult time. The greylag geese are shedding their feather just now.

It’s also been a good week for adders- we’ve seen more this week than since May. Here are a couple of them.

Basking adder

Basking adder

We can see you! Just peeping out from behind a rock.

We can see you! Just peeping out from behind a rock.

This week has also marked the start of the preparations for our Fun Day next Friday. We’ll have face painting, storytelling, interesting insects and lots of crafts and games for all the family. Come and join us!

Meet Septumus, the seven-legged spider! He's coming to our Fun Day- are you?

Meet Septumus, the seven-legged spider! He’s coming to our Fun Day- are you?

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