There’s been lots going on around the reserve this week. There seem to be new arrivals everywhere, in the form of baby birds- or, like this spotted flycatcher, some migrants are still arriving back from Africa.
The most obvious of the reserve’s babies are the goslings. There are around 60 of these- I say “around” as they’re hard to count! They keep moving and disappearing behind mum or dad.
Some of these are fairly newly hatched but some have been around for about three weeks now. You can fairly see the size difference!
The greynacle/ barlag family are still around. Actually, “greynacle probably isn’t a bad name for the babies- they are much greyer than the greylag goslings.
But, outdoing the goslings for cuteness, have to be the goldeneye ducklings. This female has two lovely black and white ducklings in tow. You can see how small they are when compared to the geese!
I hope she keeps them well away from this heron lurking in the reeds. Herons have a voracious appetite and have been recorded eating everything from fish, frogs and ducklings to full-grown corncrakes!
Even the smaller goslings might be at risk. But the geese were far less bothered by the presence of the heron then by a dog running off the lead down by the loch. It was amazing the way 20-odd geese and around 60 goslings just disappeared into a tiny patch of reeds.
Elsewhere, some far less attractive babies are growing up. These little horrors will grow into everyone’s favourite robins one day- but, at the moment, are semi-naked, vulnerable and decidedly ugly bags of pink flesh and grey fluff.
I’m not sure what baby starlings look like –they nest in holes- but you can certainly hear them! Each feed is followed by a lengthy chorus of raspy wheezing as the youngsters settle down before their next meal.
Some other birds are still in the process of nest building. This grey wagtail was collecting grass on a very soggy day and I think this is going to be this year’s nest.
Some other birds we’ve seen this week include treecreper and willow warblers. We’ve never found a nest of either of these species- maybe this year….
The slightly warmer and damp weather has finally made the trees come fully into leaf. Even on dull, grey days the birch trees seem to glow green against the darker pines.
The new blueberry leaves are also startlingly green. You can just make out some of the flowers that will become tasty berries in a month or two.
The gorse is in full bloom now as well. On a warm day, it fills the air with a sweet coconut smell. Given that coconuts weren’t widely seen in the UK until the 19th century, I wonder if, at first, people didn’t say “goodness me, these coconuts smell of gorse!”
Another name for gorse is “furze” and I think the job of furze cutter must have been one of the worst in the world. The wood burns very hot and people were specifically employed to cut it to fuel bread ovens. Given that the only way I’ve ever found not to get horribly stabbed when cutting gorse is to wear chainsaw trousers, I don’t envy them- those spines are seriously sharp.
The squirrels continue to provide great entertainment on the nut feeder. There are a couple of young ones who haven’t quite got the hang of jumping onto the feeder and prefer to feed on stuff the birds drop. These two were partly hidden behind an old pipe- and no, we didn’t photoshop a mirror image!