Well, that’s us into June now. Could have fooled me- it’s still pretty cold for this time of year and the nights haven’t been much above freezing. Still, at least the wind has died off a bit- the lochs were lovely and calm a few days this week.
The ospreys will be relieved about this. They struggle to fish when it’s windy- it’s hard to spot your supper from the air when there are white caps on the waves! There were at least two ospreys around on Thursday, taking advantage of the lull in the wind.
The cold weather has done odd things to the plants too. Often, by now, the wood anemones and primroses are well past but you can still find both of these in reasonable numbers on the reserve.
Meanwhile, other plants are coming into flower. There seems to have been another flush of the blue germander speedwells and the delicate white chickweed wintergreen is just coming into flower.
But hay fever sufferers will not be glad to know that the pine pollen cones have ripened and started to release pollen.
The aspens have finally decided that it’s now or never and started to come into leaf. They are usually the latest of our trees to put on leaf but seem especially late this year – they won’t be in full leaf until the second week in June.
Other residents of the reserve are just getting round to breeding. A pair of spotted flycatchers have taken to hanging around the building – will they nest here like they did three years back, when they were in a swallow box? Watch this space!
A pair of swallows are also hanging around. They don’t seem interested in the artificial swallow boxes but make a dive for the garage every time we open the door. It’s difficult- you can’t explain to swallows that a) you have to lock the door at night and b) you don’t want swallow poo on everything, so we’re trying to keep them out in the hope they’ll take the hint and build a nest on the visitor centre.
We have been regularly visited by bullfinches this week. They are after the seeds on the dandelion heads and, early in the day when it’s quiet, have been coming down onto the lawn and picking great beakfuls of seeds from the dandelion heads.
The song thrushes have also been using the lawn to feed. The damp weather brings out nice, juicy worms- great food for growing chicks. So the parents can often be seen “listening” for worms on the lawn. Of course, they’re not actually listening – their eyes are on the side of their heads, so they have to tip their head to see things on the ground- but they do look for all the world like they are listening.
Some other birds are a lot further through the breeding process. Here is a newly-fledged young robin. It’s not a great picture- he wasn’t co-operating- but you can see they start off brown and spotty and moult into their red breast earlier. The brown plumage is better camouflage for a young, naïve bird that hasn’t yet learned to avoid predators.
The mute swans now have babies (everyone go awww- they’re cute!). The pair on Kinord have a couple of cygnets but the birds on Davan have a bigger brood, five in total. These aren’t very old and must have hatched in the last week.
There are still plenty of lapwing babies scurrying around the fields – but they make a dive for cover every time a buzzard comes over. Unfortunately, this was just as I was trying to get a picture, so only just caught one heading for the nettles.
The rabbits don’t like the buzzards either. You could just see the top of this nervous-looking rabbit’s head in the long grass.
There are at least a couple of blonde rabbits around just now. Like the black rabbit, this colour is as a result of a recessive gene and crops up every few generations. Funnily enough, the blonde and black rabbits tend to appear in the same year. We don’t know why, but it’s good fun trying to spot them among the standard brown rabbits!