It’s really starting to feel like spring on the reserve. It always does when the first flowers burst into bloom. We saw our first primroses this week, on a sunny slope just off the Vat trail.
They weren’t the only flowers coming out. The first celandine appeared this week too. It won’t be long until the woods at New Kinord are yellow with these.
The daffodils are also coming into bloom. Although not native to Scotland, I find them a slightly poignant reminder of the people who used to live and work here long before anyone had ever heard of “nature reserves”. Planted by people long-dead to brighten their gardens, they tend to grow around the ruins of buildings scattered across the reserve. There is something both sad and comforting in their cheerful resilience to the changes that have swept away much of rural population over the years.
The sap is rising elsewhere too. This birch tree fell over last winter and we tidied up. But it doesn’t know it’s dead yet and the stump is soaking with newly-risen sap.
We haven’t had the first migrant birds back yet, although we’re expecting the sand martins any day now. The only migrants we saw this week were birds which wintered here but are now northbound for the summer. A flock of six whooper swans dropped onto Loch Davan for a break on their way back to Iceland.
Mind you, it took them a couple of goes to get a wee bit of peace and quiet. The two pairs of resident mute swans took grave exception to these visitors and the whoopers were chased from one end of the loch to another until they wound up in a neutral patch of water.
The work on Black Moss is nearly complete. Although tree felling can look very extreme in the short-term, in the long-term it’s vital to ensure the peatland doesn’t dry out.
These sphagnum mosses absorb and hold rainwater in the bog. They can be a surprising variety of colours at this time of year. When they die, their partially rotted remains make up the bulk of the peat.
And, although spring is coming, they’ve had plenty of rainwater to absorb! It’s been a week of sun, showers, rainbows and puddles.
The adders have been dodging the showers as well. There were nine basking at one point this week, but at least five of those were last year’s babies, which have made it through the winter. You can see how small one of the females is by the nest of lichen she’s basking in.
The adult females are also starting to emerge, including this slightly greenish one we recognised from last year.
The sun has also made at least one of the local lizards feel brave…or stupid…or invulnerable. It seemed determined to run almost over one of the adders…and lizards are one of their favourite foods. Maybe it had read that adders aren’t supposed to eat before shedding their skins…but I’m not convinced the adders have read that… and I wouldn’t have chanced it!