Damp Days

It’s been a fairly dreich week on the reserve, lots of overcast skies and no shortage of rain. It’s a shame, because I think the NNR looks at its most beautiful just now….the reserve has put on a golden gown! But there’s not been much in the way of sun to make the gown glitter ….although it has come out in the last half hour, just as it’s time to go home! Typical! But the autumn colours are lovely nonetheless and brighten up even the dullest day…and even the raindrops can be pretty.

Autumn reflections

Autumn reflections

Autumn colours - in the rain!

Autumn colours – in the rain!

A flame - coloured gean tree

A flame – coloured gean tree

Tree jewels - sounds better than drips!

Tree jewels – sounds better than drips!

Also brightening up the reserve are some late –flowering plants. We found these in a sheltered spot beside a wall. It seems slightly odd, seeing blooming “summer” flowers as the leaves fall around you.

A late bloomer - field pansy

A late bloomer – field pansy

Late Bloomer 2 - lesser stitchwort

Late Bloomer 2 – lesser stitchwort

Last week marked the arrival of the “winter thrushes” from Scandinavia. Fieldfare and redwing are usually the most prominent of these, and we notice them as we don’t normally see them here. But there has also been an influx of blackbirds and song thrushes from the continent – there are far more of these than normal. Often a black beak on a first –winter (ie one of this year’s chicks) blackbird is a giveaway that this bird has travelled across the North Sea.

Possibly a continental blackbird- the black beak can be a giveaway.

Possibly a continental blackbird- the black beak can be a giveaway.

The blackbirds and thrushes have been tucking into the whitebeam berries just beside the reserve office this week. They prefer rowan berries but the resident birds had most of these before they arrived this year….the rowans ripened early with the mild spring and summer.

A blackbird scoffing whitebeam berries

A blackbird scoffing whitebeam berries

It’s not just the thrushes stocking up for winter. Something, probably a squirrel, has had a good munch of this birch bracket fungus. Don’t try this at home, though, folks, they’re not edible to us.

Whos been tucking into this birch bracket? Probably a squirrel.

Whos been tucking into this birch bracket? Probably a squirrel.

Other winter visitors have been arriving. A small group of whooper swans graced Loch Kinord with their presence on Tuesday. These swans have flown here from Iceland and are passing through on their way further south.

Whooper swans over the reserve

Whooper swans over the reserve

The rain last week has also given us a few maintenance jobs around the reserve. It washed some of the surfacing off the Burn o Vat trail and, although we’ve patched it, it will need more work over the winter. One of the more unglamorous jobs is also clearing out the drains after the rain…and I’m afraid we do more of these than watch wildlife in a typical week! I’ve not seen any adders this week, for the first time since March- but I’ve not had time to look either. Maybe next week….

The unglamorous side of reserve work!

The unglamorous side of reserve work!

Lovely autumn colours- brightens up even the wettest day!

Lovely autumn colours- brightens up even the wettest day!

 

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