Shivering September

Welcome to autumn- the 1st of September marks the “official” start of autumn. And you’d think the weather knew it too, with a shift to rain and cool northerly winds. This week is the first I’ve needed a jacket for warmth, not just rain, and the wooly hat has been dug out of the rucksack. But last weekend was lovely and warm, and we saw more butterflies then than we’ve seen most of the summer.

Small tortiseshell

Small tortiseshell

Peacock butterfly

Peacock butterfly

The Scotch arguses are starting to look a little worn. Compare this picture with how they looked when they were freshly emerged.

Scotch Argus looking worn

Scotch Argus looking worn

Scotch Argus

Scotch Argus newly emerged

The red admirals look quite different on the top and on the underwing.

Red admiral

Red admiral

Red admiral underwing

Red admiral underwing

Speaking of how different things look, we found some dragonfly exuvia  this week. These are the “shells” of the dragonfly larvae, from which the adult emerge. They’re pretty big- about as long as my thumb- but you’d still never think that this dragonfly could come from this ugly-looking skin.

Common hawker exuvium

Common hawker exuvium

Newly-emerged common hawker

Newly-emerged common hawker

The reptiles haven’t been much in evidence this week. They were out over the warmer weekend but even then were being a bit shy.

Common lizard

Common lizard

Common lizard hiding in dyke

Common lizard hiding in dyke

We can still see you!

We can still see you!

We’ve also found a couple of caterpillars this week. These will be getting close to the time when they hibernate over winter in soil or dead vegetation. The oddest-looking of these is the elephant hawkmoth caterpillar. It has two false “eyes” on its head end and is pretending to be something nasty like a snake. If you disturb them, they lash their head from side to side in a fairly disconcerting manner, pretending they’re about to bite!

Light knot-grass moth (Acronita menyanthidis) caterpillar

Light knot-grass moth (Acronita menyanthidis) caterpillar

Elephant hawk moth caterpillar

Elephant hawk moth caterpillar

They’d better stay away from this insect. Ichneumon wasps have one of the most interestingly horrible ways of feeding their young. Ever seen the film “Alien”? Well, if you have, you’re getting the idea. They paralyse caterpillars and lay their eggs in them. The wasp larvae then eat the still-living caterpillar from the inside out. Feel free to say “eeeugh” at this point- most people do (unless it’s small boys who think it’s cool).

Ichneumon wasp

Ichneumon wasp

The grebe babies are almost adult sized now, but still have stripy faces.

The young grebes are almost adult-sized by now

The young grebes are almost adult-sized by now

But, apart from the weekend, it’s been fairly damp and cool. There are still a few wildflowers  about but these are getting scarcer by the week.

"Bacon-and-eggs plant" - a pink and yellow version of the flowers

“Bacon-and-eggs plant” – a pink and yellow version of the bird’s foot trefoil flowers

Yellow bird's-foot trefoil flowers

Yellow bird’s-foot trefoil flowers

"Craw's taes". Bird's foot trefoil seed pods

“Craw’s taes”. Bird’s foot trefoil seed pods

There are still a few late "gowans"- ox eye daisies- in flower

There are still a few late “gowans”- ox eye daisies- in flower

Heather flowers

Heather flowers

Large-flowered hemp nettle

Large-flowered hemp nettle

Water forget-me-not sometimes produces pink, not blue, flowers

Water forget-me-not sometimes produces pink, not blue, flowers

The dead rabbit bonanza continues. No kites this week but there have been plenty of carrion crows living up to their name.

Carrion crow eating dead rabbit

Carrion crow eating dead rabbit

We’ve been pulling Himalayan balsam from the banks of the Logie Burn this week. It’s an attractive plant with pink flowers, but, as the name suggests, doesn’t belong here. It can outcompete and smother native plants, so it has to go. Not the most pleasant of jobs- you don’t need expensive plastic surgery to get that “trout lips” look, just pull up 2 foot tall balsam in among 3 foot tall nettles, and you’ll soon acquire that puffed-up look! Nettle stings are never nice, but in the face…owwww.

Himalayan balsalm

Himalayan balsalm

Balsam left up tree to die

Balsam left up tree to die

At least it didn’t rain on us while we were balsam pulling, it’s done that most other days. It’s been a bit dull for nice views, but beauty can be found in miniature all over the reserve. Here are some of Paul’s close-ups.

Lichen - Cladonia cristatella

Lichen – Cladonia cristatella

Lichen

Lichen

The underside of an oak fern leaf

The underside of an oak fern leaf

Dew on Polytrichum moss

Dew on Polytrichum moss

Dew on Polytrichum moss

Dew on Polytrichum moss

The rowan berries continue to ripen and, this week, for the first time, they seem to be ripe enough to interest the thrushes. The blackbirds have been tucking and, in another month, they could be joined by fieldfares and redwings. Autumn is definitely upon us now!

The young blackbird is taking advantage of the rowan berries

The young blackbird is taking advantage of the rowan berries

 

 

This entry was posted in Muir of Dinnet NNR and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.