Spring, Snakes and Smoke

It’s been a busy week on the NNR this week. I hardly feel like I’ve had time to look at any wildlife! Everything is continuing to wake up from the winter and the lochs are ice-free for the first time in weeks.

No ice for the first time in weeks

No ice for the first time in weeks

We’ve been heather burning again. But the most important thing about burning, the one thing you  must do, is to try and make sure it stops at the right point! This has involved strimming firebreaks through the heather. I’d like to think I’m not afraid of hard work but, my goodness, it’s a soul –destroying job!

A firebreak

A firebreak

Still, it was worth it to get a few good burns going. We’re two-thirds of our way to our target of 3 hectares burnt this year.

Patches of burnt heather

Patches of burnt heather

We did slightly curse the weather while we were burning…a rainbow, and therefore rain, is not what you need.

Somewhere under the rainbow...heather burning and cursing the weather...

Somewhere under the rainbow…heather burning and cursing the weather…

 

The fire can fairly rip along with a bit of wind behind it

The fire can fairly rip along with a bit of wind behind it

While we were burning, we were “buzzed” by a couple of Hercules on low-flying manoeuvres. Very impressive to see a ‘plane that size that low over the hills. Rather you than me, boys, and major respect to the pilots!

RAF Hercules getting in some low flying practice over the reserve

RAF Hercules getting in some low flying practice over the reserve

We haven’t had much rain this week but there have been a couple of heavy showers and the resulting rainbows are nice. The golden reserve at the end of the rainbow….?

Rainbow over the reserve

Rainbow over the reserve

The adders are continuing to wake up. They may get a shock with the weather forecast this weekend, but there have been at least a couple out basking most days. We also saw our first common lizard of the year on Wednesday.

Male adder, on the move

Male adder, on the move

Adder on the move through the dyke

Adder on the move through the dyke

The first common lizard of the year

The first common lizard of the year

One of the adders narrowly avoided being trodden on by a dog running past. Fortunately, adders are shy, rather than aggressive and he went and hid under a stone and refused to come out for ages. Keeping dogs on paths on really reduces the chances of them getting bitten and reduces disturbance to other wildlife- especially now that birds are starting to think breeding thoughts.

Ah'm no'  comin' oot til that dug's  gone!

Ah’m no’ comin’ oot til that dug’s gone!

The squirrel has been raiding the nuts regularly ….much to the detriment of our feeder camera!

Now, Mister Squirrel, exactly how do you think the aerial on our camera got broken....?????

Now, Mister Squirrel, exactly how do you think the aerial on our camera got broken….?????

The geese are on the move. Little groups are starting to trickle northwards and are passing through the reserve. Our resident greylag flock is also growing as birds that will breed on and around the lochs gather in and around the reserve.  But here’s a question for you- how many species of geese in the photo?

How many types of geese in the photo?

How many types of geese in the photo?

The answer is three and a half – there are pink – footed geese in the background (small, grey, out of focus), a barnacle goose (the black and white one) and greylag geese (the ones with the big orange beaks). There are also a couple of greylag goose and barnacle goose hybrids (dark with pale face) – the barnacle goose must have got lost last year, not migrated north, and bred with a local greylag. I’m not sure what you’d call the offspring- a barlag or a greynacle perhaps?

We’ve also just heard we have a felling licence to carry out tree removal and therefore bog restoration at Black Moss- more on this later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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