Sunny days and Scotch Arguses

It’s been another lovely week on the reserve, andwe finally had some much-needed rain on Thursday. The weather has been kind to us…we got our events, “Splish Splash” for pre-schoolers and the “Moths in Morning” done and dusted in the dry! The youngsters had a great time, with a couple of hours of watery activities (just fine on a hot day) while the moth morning yielded 26 keen moth-ers and 30 species of moth. It’s a great chance to see moths up close- we mostly see them in their endless spinning around lights or briefly as we evict them from our houses- and some are quite beautifully marked. The scientific name for moths and butterflies is “Lepidoptera” meaning “scale wing”. All of these tiny scales are different colours, or refract light in different ways, to give moths their wonderful variety of colours and patterns.

Lesser swallow prominant on egg box

Lesser swallow prominant on egg box- we fill the trap with empty egg boxes to give the moths somewhere to hide.

Antler moth

Antler moth

Emptying the trap....hunting carefully through the egg boxes for any moths

Emptying the trap….hunting carefully through the egg boxes for any moths

Lesser swallow prominant at rest on birch bark

Lesser swallow prominant at rest on birch bark. This is where they normally spend the day “roosting”.

Burnished brass moth

Probably my favourite moth of the day -a burnished brass moth

Another less popular insect was also making its presence felt this week. Although not close to an official path, people who go scrambling above the Vat do risk running into these rather protective wasps. Their nest is in the ground but the bit you can see is football sized. We’ve put a sign up near them so hopefully they won’t come as a nasty surprise.

A wasp's nest in the bank. This picture was taken from well away, with the zoom, but it's at least football sized!

A wasp’s nest in the bank. This picture was taken from a long way back, but it’s at least football sized!

The adders have been out and about, probably needing some more basking time as it’s been a wee bit cooler than last week. I genuinely don’t know how sociable they are supposed to be, but they certainly don’t seem adverse to each other’s company at this time of year. There were five within about twenty feet, including a couple all coiled up together.

Basking before the rain came on

Basking before the rain came on

Another adder basking

Another adder basking

It was great to spot (pardon the pun) a young great- spotted woodpecker on the peanut feeder this week. Unlike the adults, they have a red cap and almost no red under the tail. It’s nice to think that this young bird can get an easy meal here as it learns to make its way in the world.

A young great-spotted woodpecker

A young great-spotted woodpecker- sorry, not the best photo as it’s from the office through the glass.

The last of the summer flowers are just coming out now. The teasels have a fairly discreet purple flower, almost hidden in what will be the spectacular seed head.

Teasel flower

Teasel flower

The devil’s bit scabious is also just coming out. These will provide a nice bonus of some late nectar for the insects. The “scabious” part of its name comes from the fact it was used treat sores caused by scabies. And as for the “devil’s bit”…. well, legend has it the devil was so angry at the plant for relieving suffering, he came up through the earth and bit off its roots!

Devil's bit scabious in bud

Devil’s bit scabious in bud

Devil's bit scabious

Devil’s bit scabious

One of the insects that will benefit from the devil’s-bit scabious is the rather lovely Scotch argus butterfly. These pretty creatures are the last butterfly to emerge here. They always seem to go from one or two to absolutely everywhere overnight, and are now the most commonly seen butterfly on the reserve. So come and see them for yourself!

A freshly-emerged Scotch argus butterfly

A freshly-emerged Scotch argus butterfly

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