Autumn-y August

Well, that’s us nearly at the end of August already, and, however hard we try, we’re going to have to admit it is autumn now, not late summer. There are signs of autumn everywhere, from the chill in the wind, to the swallows on the lines, discussing the way to Africa. Fungi are popping up everywhere and the trees are looking heavy with ripe fruit. Probably the most striking of these are the fast-ripening rowans, bending their boughs under the weight of their berries.

The rowans are getting ripening fast

The rowans are getting ripening fast

The dog roses are producing lots of rosehips. In the past, children were sent to gather these as a source of vitamin C but I remember collecting them for itching powder! If you slit them open, the fine hairs on the seeds are really tickly if someone puts them down the back of your neck!

Rosehips on dog rose

Rosehips on dog rose

The cold weather and the gales last week have really left the trees looking a bit battered and sorry for themselves. The leaves are starting their wind dances now, with the stronger gusts shaking a few leaves off with every puff. And that’s even before they’ve turned yellow!

Battered birch leaves...starting to look quite "autumn-y".

Battered birch leaves…starting to look quite “autumn-y”.

It’s not just the trees that are looking battered. There are noticeably fewer butterflies this week and those that I have seen, like this small heath, are looking more than a little worn.

It's not just the trees the weather has battered. This small heath looks rather tatty now.

It’s not just the trees the weather has battered. This small heath looks rather tatty now.

However, the heather is looking at its best about now.

Purple heather

Purple heather

In the woods, the fungi are popping up all over the place. But identifying them can be tricky. All of the mushrooms in this picture are fly agaric….the typical “fairy toadstool”, the red one with the white spots. However, you’ll notice there aren’t any white spots- they can, and have, washed off in the rain. They can also be bleached by rain and sun and the big white-ish mushroom is still a fly agaric …but definitely not the expected red.

All the same mushroom but very different -looking!

All the same mushroom but very different -looking!

There are still good numbers of adders around and they still look pregnant. They are less inclined to move in the cool weather so I’ve managed to get some nice, close views….but from a safe distance, with binoculars! I always think the best way to see an animal is to watch it in a way you don’t disturb it. If they move, you’re too close. The real thril is when you watch any animal and it’s just being itself, not worried by you…and these adders do seem pretty laid -back if you keep several feet away.

Up close and personal....but safely done with a long lens!

Up close and personal….but safely done with a long lens!

While down by Loch Davan on Tuesday, I was in for a real treat. I had just taken a photo of the loch as it was flat clam and the reflections were beautiful.

Loch Davan reflections

Loch Davan reflections

When, all of a sudden, something appeared in the camera and made ripples, spoiling the shot. What on earth ?! Otter!

Spoiling the reflections with ripples - a lovely otter pops up in the middle of the shot!

Spoiling the reflections with ripples – a lovely otter pops up in the middle of the shot!

It swam past me, no more than twenty feet away, making a peeping or whistling call. Otters don’t have great eyesight, so if you stand still and are downwind, they often won’t notice you.

Otter swimming past, really close in.....

Otter swimming past, really close in…..

Than he did! He stared at me for ages, presumably deciding if I was an odd-looking tree or not. He eventually decided he didn’t like the look of me, dove, and headed off in a trail of bubbles. And I stared breathing again. What an amazing experience and a reminder of what great places NNRs are!

...and he's getting suspicious now!

…and he’s getting suspicious now!

This entry was posted in Muir of Dinnet NNR and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.