Equinoxes and Eclipses

It’s been a slightly odd week, weather-wise. We’re sitting in the middle of a patch of high pressure just now, and that often means lovely days. But it’s been fairly grey and non-descript for much of the week. Having said that, I’m aware the photos will make it look a lot nicer than it’s been, as we’ve taken most of these in the sunny spells we’ve had. The bullfinches were taking advantage of the warmth swelling the buds on the geans outside the visitor centre. Bullfinches eat, among other things, tree buds, and love fruit tree buds best. This eating habit has led to them being shot in orchards in the past, but we can just enjoy them here.

Male bullfinch

Male bullfinch

It has started cold some mornings. It was cold enough for a little white cap to appear on Morven overnight on Tuesday.

It was cold enough for a dusting of fresh snow on Morven on Tuesday night

It was cold enough for a dusting of fresh snow on Morven on Tuesday night

A few of the mornings have been misty before the sun came up. This always shows up all the spiders’ webs in the heather.

Spiders web in the morning sun

Spiders web in the morning sun

There's a loch under there, somewhere!

There’s a loch under there, somewhere!

The sunny mornings have been marked by a veritable chorus of birdsong, which will only get louder and more varied as migrant birds trickle in from Africa. At the moment, the thrush family are dominating the symphony, with song and mistle thrushes, blackbirds and robins all in full voice. I’ve tried to capture them all this week but have been eluded by the second–most common one, the blackbird. Still, here are the rest of the clan. 

Song thrush, having a good old ruffle of his feathers

Song thrush, having a good old ruffle of his feathers

A very grey-looking mistle thrush

A very grey-looking mistle thrush

My tree. My tree. Mine. Come and have babies with me! A robin making his intentions clear to the world!

My tree. My tree. Mine. Come and have babies with me! A robin making his intentions clear to the world!

Down on the lochs, the ducks continue to display furiously. If the weather holds, I suspect some will be on eggs by the end of the month. The goldeneye continue to be one of the most obvious, with their head-toss and “zip-zzzyew” call.

 

Male goldeneye displaying

Male goldeneye displaying

Ever get the feeling she likes you? Female goldeneye displaying to the male.

Ever get the feeling she likes you? Female goldeneye displaying to the male.

There have also been a few goosander displaying on the lochs. These are large, fish -eating ducks, and, because of this, often aren’t popular with anglers. You can see their serrated beak here, for gripping slippery fish, which gives goosander, merganser and smew the collective name of “sawbills”.  

Male goosander

Male goosander

The lochs have been flat calm. You hardly know which way up this picture should go!

Flat calm on Loch Davan

Flat calm on Loch Davan

At Kinord, you can’t miss the greylag geese. They are setting up breeding territories and, my goodness, they’re noisy. 

What a honking! The greylags are pairing up and noisily defending territories on the lochs.

What a honking! The greylags are pairing up and noisily defending territories on the lochs.

The adders have also been out on the sunny mornings. They seem to feel safest with a bit of overhead cover, like at the foot of these trees. It’s hardly surprising, as buzzards are one of their main predators.  

An adder at the foot of every tree!

An adder at the foot of every tree!

A close –up of one of their faces shows that the eyes aren’t going milky yet- so they’re still a few weeks off shedding their skins. 

No signs of their eyes going cloudy...so they're not about to shed their skins just yet.

No signs of their eyes going cloudy…so they’re not about to shed their skins just yet.

This week has also been a week of astrological phenomena, which, until now, we hadn’t seen because of the weather. It’s the spring equinox this weekend, which means more daylight than darkness until 21st September…so it should be getting better! It was raining when I left for work this morning, so I was thinking the chances of seeing the eclipse were few and far between. Not so- it brightened up nicely and we managed to snatch these shots as the clouds blew over. They made ideal natural filters for the camera!

The first time we could see it at 8:50.

The first time we could see it at 8:50.

Burn o Vat in the odd half-light of the eclipse

Burn o Vat in the odd half-light of the eclipse

The sky looks quite dramatic here- you can see why people thought the world was ending.

The sky looks quite dramatic here- you can see why people thought the world was ending.

About the fullest extent of the eclipse 9.35

About the fullest extent of the eclipse 9.35

 

 

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