Warm days and Wildlife

What a lovely week it’s been! It’s finally turned truly summery and the temperature has been in the twenties (26 on Thursday) most of the week. But it’s still been chilly at nights….down to only 3 or 4 degrees…which is pretty cold for all the young birds that are appearing just now. This cygnet is snuggled right into mum for warmth (feel free to go “awwwww”…and well done Paul for such a great picture!)

Cygnet snuggling into mum for warmth

Cygnet snuggling into mum for warmth

These aren’t the only young birds around. There are lots of cheeping noises in the bushes just now as newly-fledged birds demand food, food and more food from their parents. Often, young birds are variations of a theme of brown and speckled ….but they usually have the remains of their yellow gape at the back of their beaks. This can give them a rather glum, mouth-turned-down expression…but the dunnock looks really depressed!

Young robin

Young robin

A streaky juvenile crossbill

A streaky juvenile crossbill

Young wren

Young wren

Newly fledged dunnock

Newly fledged dunnock

If the youngsters stop too close to paths, the parents can get quite hysterical and their alarm calls can actually draw your attention to a young bird. We’d have walked past this redstart if mum hadn’t been going frantic beside it.

Female redstart

Female redstart

Female redstart with fledgling

Female redstart with fledgling

Some other birds are just so noisy, you can’t help but notice them. This woodpecker nest was particularly noisy. You can tell young woodpeckers by their red cap- the adults don’t have these (although the male does have a red patch on the back of his head).  These look pretty near fledging.

Young woodpecker. Looks very close to fledging

Young woodpecker. Looks very close to fledging

The geese have babies of all sizes. Some are still small, cute and fluffy while others are almost as large as the adults. And these include some of last year’s young- one of the grown-up greynacle/ barlag crosses was on the loch this week.

One of last years greynacle/ barlag crosses

One of last years greynacle/ barlag crosses

Goslings of all sizes...some are still fluffy, others look nearly adult

Goslings of all sizes…some are still fluffy, others look nearly adult

Growing goslings! They'll soon be as big as mum and dad

Growing goslings! They’ll soon be as big as mum and dad

We’re also hoping to have some other babies a bit closer to home. It looks like the spotted flycatcher will nest on the building after all.

Guttered! The spotted flycatcher often perch up in the guttering.

Guttered! The spotted flycatchers often perch up on the guttering.

Spotted flycatcher on nest

Spotted flycatcher on nest

The warm weather is bringing on all sorts of things. This week, finally, is the first that all the trees are in leaf- and isn’t it green! But it’s not all one green- there are variations. There are two colours of aspen trees here, the bright green and bronze –tinted trees, the darker green birches up the back and  the even darker green of the pines- a veritable rhapsody in green!

Shades of green- aspen, pine and birch all different greens

Shades of green- aspen, pine and birch

All these leaves mean food for the insects.  This webby cocoon is home to the caterpillars of the bird cherry ermine moth. There aren’t too many of these this year but, in some years, they can strip the trees bare and the webby homes look a bit sinister all over the trees.

Bird cherry ermine moth caterpillar cocoon

Bird cherry ermine moth caterpillar cocoon

The greater stitchwort are now joined by the pignuts in making drifts of white flowers alongside the paths. And, in the woods, all the chickweed wintergreen are out as well.

Greater stitchwort and pignut

Greater stitchwort and pignut

Chickweed wintergreen

Chickweed wintergreen

The bog surface looks white too, but not with flowers, with the seed heads of the hare’s tail bog cotton.

The bog, with lots of bog cotton in seed.

The bog, with lots of bog cotton in seed.

Bog cotton

Bog cotton

From the power lines that run through the bog, the cuckoo is still calling. It won’t be for much longer though- they’ll start their southward migration as soon as next month.

There is still a cuckoo cuckooing at Parkin's Moss

There is still a cuckoo cuckooing at Parkin’s Moss

And the more colourful residents of the bog are emerging. The dragonflies and damselflies are easier to see on warm sunny day- which we haven’t had until now.

Four spotted chaser

Four spotted chaser

Common blue damselfly

Common blue damselfly

Large red damselfly

Large red damselfly

The warm, dap weather early in the week was ideal for this odd-looing resident of the reserve to pop up. It’s a wolf’s milk slime mould, often found on decaying wood.

Wolf's milk slime mould

Wolf’s milk slime mould

The squirrels continue to visit us (well, our peanut feeder). It looks like they’re starting to shed their ear tufts- these are a lot sparser than a couple of weeks back. They’ll be glad of less hair if it stays this warm!

Not quite so Tufty the Squirrel...

Not quite so Tufty the Squirrel…

Red squirrel

Red squirrel

The sunny days have been great for school visits too. I always feel sorry for children if it’s horrible weather on one of their few class trips out….but this week has been ideal. Here is a local playgroup, with their nature bracelets….and easy and fun thing to do with some masking tape (and the flowers all come from a lawn that’s due to be mown).

Children from a local playgroup with their "nature bracelets"

Children from a local playgroup with their “nature bracelets”

And finally- the amazing disappearing rabbit. A young, almost white rabbit has appeared on the reserve. It’s not a pet, or an albino, just a really pale version of the “blonde” rabbits we occasionally see here. But it wasn’t staying still for a photo and, appropriately for a white rabbit, disappeared down a hole!

The white rabbit, disappearing Alice in Wonderland- like down a hole!

The white rabbit, disappearing Alice in Wonderland- like down a hole!

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