Spring Snow!

They say a picture paints a thousand words. Well, here’s Monday.

The overnight snow has clung to all the branches

The overnight snow has clung to all the branches

New green and cold snow

New green and cold snow

Beech tree with snow on all the mast

Beech tree with snow on all the mast

Every branch has a thick coating of wet snow

Every branch has a thick coating of wet snow

That was a bit unexpected! It had mostly gone by the next day though- here’s Morven on Monday and Tuesday.

Snowy Morven ..but it won't last at this time of year...

Snowy Morven ..but it won’t last at this time of year…

....and a day later, a lot of the snow has gone

….and a day later, a lot of the snow has gone

It has fairly quietened down the birds early morning though….apart from the thrushes! They have kept going but the rest of the birds are taking longer to get going now.

Song thrush in gean tree.

Song thrush in gean tree.

A mistle thrush or mavis

A mistle thrush or mavis – larger and greyer than the song thrush

Mind you, once they do get going, some are well worth seeing. Try and spot a redstart in his spring finery – I doubt there’s a more handsome bird on the reserve right now. The path around Loch Kinord is a good place to see them.

Male redstart

Male redstart

The cold weather has made the peanut feeder suddenly popular again. Mind you, I suspect that this squirrel has a good reason for needing an easy meal. If you look closely at the picture, you can see her teat- which probably means she’s got babies to feed somewhere. Red squirrels usually have between two and six young, any time between April and September. They’ll be tucked up in a cosy drey somewhere while mum goes out foraging for food.

This female squirrel may have babies to feed just now.

This female squirrel may have babies to feed just now.

Peanut thief!

And she’s feeding the tick over her eye, too.

We also spotted this squirrel up by the viewpoint. It’s a different one to the one on the feeder- it’s much smaller and greyer. Red squirrel colour can vary hugely, from almost black to pale blonde…which gets confusing in areas where they overlap with grey squirrels! Fortunately we don’t have greys here, and long may that continue.

A different squirrel- smaller and greyer o the back

A different squirrel- smaller and greyer o the back

The damper mornings have encouraged the slugs to emerge. All of a sudden there seem to be lots of great black slugs on the paths. These aren’t the ones that eat your garden –they’re scavengers of dead material, including, disgustingly, dog poo. But, in nature, everything eats something (or someone), no matter what!

The aptly-named Great Black Slug

The aptly-named Great Black Slug

The black rabbit is still on the go. Only we’ve got two now! There are at least two pure black rabbits on the reserve right now, one near New Kinord, one near Old Kinord. The black colour will be caused by a recessive gene, which shows up every few generations. We also occasionally get blonde rabbits here, too.

Black rabbit.

Black rabbit.

Meanwhile, down on the bog ….

On the bog? No, in our visitor centre!

On the bog? No, in our visitor centre!

…actually, no, it’s not the real bog, but the live one in the visitor centre. It’s looking well and a couple of insectivorous sundew have appeared in the past week.

The live bog in the centre is looking well

The live bog in the centre is looking well

The adders haven’t liked the change in the weather at all. We’ve hardly seen them this week…all that’s been visible was a female’s tail sticking out of the bracken one day. But, interestingly, we found a reasonably freshly-shed skin…which would seem to indicate that the shedding has been spread over nearly a month this year, as opposed to most of them shedding inside a week last year.

Still shedding? We found this not-very -old skin this week

Still shedding? We found this not-very -old skin this week

All we've seen of the adders this week!

All we’ve seen of the adders this week!

We also had an interesting picture handed in this week.  It’s of the glacial erratic on the Vat trail. This is a very large rock which was shifted and dropped here by ice at the end of the last Ice Age. I walk past it daily and I’ve heard the legend of Earl Davy’s Stone, but never heard it applied to this rock before. The story goes that after the Battle of Culblean, the defeated Earl Davy of Strathbogie fled, and eventually turned and faced his pursuers with his back to a great stone. He fought there until slain by Earl Gordon, who took both his life and his title.

"Earl Davy's stone" in 1983

“Earl Davy’s stone” in 1983

But another interesting aspect of the picture is how the landscape’s changed since 1984- even here you can see that the area is far more wooded these days and the birch trees at the left end of the stone are much larger now.

Glacial erratic, yes. "Earl Davy's Stone"...well, maybe!

Glacial erratic, yes. “Earl Davy’s Stone”…well, maybe!

 

 

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