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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!