Heatwave!

What a week! The whole reserve is baking gently in the shimmering heat. It went up to a sizzling thirty degrees in the sun trap that is Burn o Vat on Thursday….a little too hot for comfort. All of our visitors are enjoying the sun but, my goodness, the heat is hard work if you’ve something like strimming to do. We cut the entire east and south shores of Loch Kinord in the heat- thanks, Daryl, for your help- and we both looked (and smelt) like the ratcatcher’s dog afterwards! No pictures, wasn’t a pretty sight!

The dragonflies and damselflies are loving the fine weather. There are lots of common blue damselflies egg- laying on vegetation at the edge of the lochs just now.

Common blue damselflies mating

Common blue damselflies mating

common blue damselflies mating and egg -laying

common blue damselflies mating and egg -laying

We also spotted another, far less attractive-looking insect this week. But this apparent alien is actually one of everybody’s favourite beasties! This is a ladybird nymph, with a ladybird pupae to its left.

Mini aliens? No, ladybird nymphs!

Mini aliens? No, ladybird nymphs!

The adders have been seen basking in the shade rather than the sun this week- that’s a sure sign it’s properly hot! They’ve also been shedding their skins again – we found a massive skin right next to where last week’s milky-eyed adder picture was taken and another slightly smaller one nearby.

A newly shed adder skin

A newly shed adder skin

Two large newly- shed adder skins...must have been big snakes!

Two large newly- shed adder skins…must have been big snakes!

In case you can’t read the metre stick, the skins measured 78 cm (top) and 73 cm!

Can you spot both snake and skin?

Can you spot both snake and skin?

Adder basking in shade rather than sun

The adder is middle, far left of the picture

The skin in close up

The skin in close up- middle right of picture, in the shade of mossy green rock

Another hot job was carrying out the site condition monitoring on some of our very wet mires. Even after days of sun and almost no rain, the water is still ankle deep (or deeper), every footstep sinks into the bog surface, there is no shade and the clegs (horseflies) greeted our appearance with relish. In spite of our “land and you die” approach to them, I can confirm they can bite through a SNH t-shirt. At least the mires looked in reasonable condition and it’s always interesting to visit parts of the NNR you don’t always see.Black Moss and Ordie Moss are fascinating places, but the dead trees on Ordie Moss give it a slightly spooky Tolkien-esque feel.

The Dead Marshes? Ordie Moss, with some very sad -looking willow trees

The Dead Marshes? Ordie Moss, with some very sad -looking willow trees

Also had a brief interlude from Dinnet this week with a Wild food Walk at the wonderful St Cyrus NNR. This must be one of the best places in the country for wild flowers- check out these beauties!

Common blue butterfly on clusterd bellflower

Common blue butterfly on clusterd bellflower

Maiden pink

Maiden pink

A white clustered bellflower

A white clustered bellflower. These are usually a deep purple colour but can be paler or even, very occasionally, white like this one.

Six-spot burnet moth on wild marjoram

Six-spot burnet moth on wild marjoram

Back at Dinnet and down by the lochs, the ducks are looking dowdy in their “eclipse” plumage. The y moult into this duller dress after breeding but will moult again over the winter so they look at their best when spring rolls around.

Ducks on Loch Davan, all in dowdy "eclipse" plumage

Ducks on Loch Davan, all in dowdy “eclipse” plumage

The cygnets are getting big and starting to look like small, grey swans now, rather than grey fluff balls.

Mute swan and cygnets

Mute swan and cygnets

Elsewhere, signs of autumn are starting to creep into the summer weather. The wild cherries are fast ripening and the flattened grass around the wild raspberry bushes shows that people, as well as wildlife, enjoy these sweet treats. The heat is also starting to make the bracken turn yellow, which is a sure autumnal sign. So get out into the countryside and make the most of summer while it lasts!

A good crop of wild rasps

A good crop of wild rasps

Mmmmm! Wild raspberries!

Mmmmm! Wild raspberries!

the bracken is starting to turn yellow

The bracken is starting to turn yellow

Wild cherries ripening in the sun

Wild cherries ripening in the sun

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