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