Squirrels and Slow Worms

Look at the tufts on her! Our seasonal, Paul, managed to capture this red squirrel on the garage this week.

Look at the tufts on her!

Look at the tufts on her!

Red Squirrels shed their ear tufts in summer- they’re probably at least, in part, there to help keep their ears warm over the winter. But none of our squirrels have shed theirs yet …this male also has a magnificent set of tufts.

Red squirrel - male!

Red squirrel – male!

They’re not the only thing he had a magnificent set of. When they’re breeding, male squirrels are, shall we say, obviously male when they hang upside down on the peanut feeder. Our Momentum Skills group had a good look at him from the office window, much to the delight of those who hadn’t seen a red squirrel before…and the amusement of those who hadn’t seen those bits of a squirrel before.

Momentum skills group

Momentum skills group

You can see why squirrels do so well here, though. All of the pinewood in the foreground of this picture is naturally regenerated- these trees have seeded themselves, not been planted…and pinewoods are the stronghold of red squirrels.

Lochnagar from the reserve

Young pinewood and Lochnagar from the reserve

Down by the lochs, the common sandpipers continue to noisily defend their territories. In common with a lot of birds that spend a lot of time around water (like wagtails, dipper or snipe) they bob up and down a lot, and Paul has managed to capture one mid-bob, in a typical tail-up posture.

 

Common sandpiper

Common sandpiper

A common sandpiper, in a very typical "bum up" pose

A common sandpiper, in a very typical “bum up” pose

Paul also captured some gorgeous shots of a willow warbler. It had found a moth and was removing the wings before eating the nice, fat juicy body!

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

Willow warbler with moth

Willow warbler with moth

Partly de-winged

Partly de-winged

The ducks are continuing to produce ducklings. These newly-hatched ones were spotted on Parkin’s Moss. This has been a real success story for wildlife- the dams installed here over 15 years ago have now allowed the bog to become wet enough for ducks, as well as seven species of damsel and dragonfly to breed.

Baby mallards

Baby mallards

But the champion baby-producers right now are the geese. Over 58 goslings were on the loch this week. Here, the geese are forming them into a “crèche”, where a few broods young join together with their parents for protection.

More baby geese - up to 58 fluffy and cute goslings on Loch Kinord now.

More baby geese – up to 58 fluffy and cute goslings on Loch Kinord now.

The partnership between the greylag and the barnacle goose has also survived! We have at least another  four greynalce (or barlag) crosses this year.

Greynacle/ barlags again!

Baby greynacle/ barlags again!

There still aren’t many adders going about but we keep seeing a very shy female in the bracken.

Newly emerged - adder, still looking a bit dusty

Female adder

But one of the other reptiles on the reserve has been showing well this week! The grass cutting was somewhat delayed until we persuaded this slow worm to shift off the lawn. Fortunately it was a lot faster than normal but we still got a lovely view of it. You can see how much shinier and smoother they look compared to adders.

Up close- I'd get much closer to this guy than an adder!

Up close- I’d get much closer to this guy than an adder!

How big is the slow worm? only about 10 inches!

How big is the slow worm? Only about 10 inches!

They have much fatter tongues than an adder

They have much fatter tongues than an adder

And, if you’re at Burn o Vat, it’s worth checking out the wild cherry or gean tree just outside the centre- it’s beautiful just now!

Gean blossom

Gean blossom

The gean tree outside the visitor centre

The gean tree outside the visitor centre

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