Autumn days

Autumn is fairly proceeding apace here now, with all the classic signs  showing across the reserve. The bracken seems to get yellower every time I look at it and, even I, who hate the stuff, have to admit it’s going the most lovely golden colour.

Bracken turning yellow

Bracken turning yellow

In the woods, the small birds are starting to join together in mixed flocks. they’ve been doing this late July but these become more obvious as autumn wears on. The woods will be silent until one of these flock pass through, then the air will be full  of cheeps, chirps and churrs as they forage past. They usually carry three or four tit species, chaffinches, robins, goldcrests and often a tree creeper or two.

Female chaffinch

Female chaffinch

 

Coal tit

Coal tit

Willow warbler

A late willow warbler – should be off to Africa very soon

The fungi are  very much in evidence across the reserve. The owner 0f probably my favourite Latin name for a species, the common puffball, can often  be seen at the edges of paths. And why do I like its Latin name? Well, it’s “lycoperdon”, which means “wolf fart”. What’s not to like about a bunch of scientist calling a mushroom that?

Common puffball

Common puffball

We spotted another odd resident of the reserve this week, this orange slime mould.  These are genuinely odd – they’re not plants, animals, or even fungi. So what are they? Well, they’re singled – celled but act together and can learn like some animals do (albeit much slower) . They are a colourful and eccentric addition to the autumn landscape.

Orange slime mould on grass

Orange slime mould on grass

As we welcome resposible dogs, and their owners, onto the reserve, we provide a dog bowl under the outside tap. However, the local wildlife simply sees this as another pond and we had to empty three toadlets out of the bowl!

Toadlets in dog bowl

Toadlets in dog bowl

There are still a few adders on the go, although they’ve become harder to spot as it’s getting colder.

What a handsome one! A very well marked adder.

What a handsome one! A very well marked adder.

This brave – but suicidal lizard was only a few feet from the adder. But a fairly freshly – missing tail implies that it may have had a narrow escape already.

Common lizard

Common lizard

Watching the baby adders has been fun. While the adults glide gracefully between the stones of the dyke, the youngsters are’t long enough to do that. They start off well, moving easily over stones, but the problem comes when they need to get off the stone. They get so far then gravity takes over and they fall off with an audible and undignified plop!

Going plop- the baby adders aren't long enough to glide gracefully over the rocks. They get so far then go plop onto the ground.

Going plop- the baby adders aren’t long enough to glide gracefully over the rocks. They get so far then go plop onto the ground.

The adders weren’t the only ones basking. This lovely, late small copper butterfly was also enjoying the sun. These are the most vivid orange and are a lovely splash of colour in the autumn sun.

Small copper butterfly

Small copper butterfly

The toads have been enjoying the damp autumn mornings. If you get too close, they’ll dig themselves into the leaves backwards and stay very still. The challenge then is to spot them and not to step on them – easier said than done. So if you visit the reserve this weekend, mind your feet!

Crouching puddock, hidden toad

Crouching puddock, hidden toad

 

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