Webs of Wonder

We’re sort of getting the Indian summer we’ve been promised on the weather forecast. Dinnet is sitting right on the edge of the coastal low cloud and fog, in spite the fact we’re 35 miles inland. …so some days are glorious and some days it never quite breaks. But all the mornings are damp and dew-soaked and this shows up all the spiders’ webs.  

Garden spider's web

Garden spider’s web

Wed with dew droplets

Web with dew droplets

Spiders spin these webs using their spinnerets, which are connected to silk-producing glands- and they can produce six different types of silk. The webs are very effective in snaring insects and any insect unfortunate enough to blunder into a web will soon be snared and eaten. The spiders check for vibrations in their webs to they are ready to dash in and immobilise their prey. 

Fishing for food - a spider keeps a leg on it's web, waiting for the vibrations caused by some unfortunate insect flying into the wed.

Fishing for food – a spider keeps a leg on it’s web, waiting for the vibrations caused by some unfortunate insect flying into the web.

Spider

Spider

The dew has also been soaking the grass. It’s a shame the pictures can’t capture the way it shatters and refracts the light into rainbows, so every seed head seems bejeweled. 

Dew-covered grass

Dew-covered grass

Perennial ryegrass

Perennial ryegrass

As autumn creeps closer, the of the insects become more approachable in the cool mornings. If you’re out, take advantage of seeing the butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies- they’ll only be around for another month. 

Peacock butterfly

Peacock butterfly

Worn looking Scotch argus

Worn looking Scotch argus

Mating scotch argus

Mating scotch argus

Common blue damselfly

Common blue damselfly

Common blue damselfly

Common blue damselfly

Black darter eating caddisfly

Black darter eating caddisfly

Male black darter

Male black darter

The adders have also been a bit slower- they too, will disappear in about a month, off to hibernate underground. But they should be producing babies before then, so keep a look out in sunny walls, and you might see a baby adder, looking back. 

Male adder

Male adder

Spot the adder

Spot the adder

Baby adder

Baby adder

We’ve been seeing more caterpillars around too. These will have fed themselves to a size where they will be able to overwinter somewhere, often buried in the soil. 

Light knot-grass moth (Acronita menyanthidis) caterpillar

Light knot-grass moth (Acronita menyanthidis) caterpillar

Fox moth caterpillar

Fox moth caterpillar

Mind you, some don’t make it that far. Caterpillars are a good protein-laden meal for lots of animals, including other insects. These spiked shield bugs have caught and are eating a caterpillar. 

Predatory shield bugs eating a caterpillar

Predatory shield bugs eating a caterpillar

There are still a fair few wild flowers around. I think one of the prettiest is the harebell or Scottish bluebell. They are one of our most delicate wild flowers and one of the first I learned to identify- so I have a soft spot for them. 

Harebell

Harebell

Down on the bog, the starry yellow flowers of the bog aspholdel have been replaced with russet-brown seed heads.  

Bog asphodel seed heads

Bog asphodel seed heads

After the rain a couple of weeks back, the water levels in the Vat burn have returned to normal. The waterfall is now pretty and sedate, rather than a raging torrent. But the Vat is difficult to photograph- it’s too wide and high for most cameras, and they can’t handle the contrast between the shady, enclosed gorge and the bright sky. So Paul has been out with a fish-eye lens to capture the Vat in all its glory. 

The Vat

The Vat

The Vat

The Vat

The Vat

The Vat

The woodland still looks green. But if you look more closely, you’ll see the trees are starting to look worn and yellow patches are appearing. Autumn creeps ever closer. 

Birch wood -still green

Birch wood -still green

But some of the birches are starting to got a bit yellow

But some of the birches are starting to get a bit yellow

And finally- if you’re in the visitor centre at Burn o Vat, can we ask a favour please? We’re carrying out some simple surveys to find out if we can improve your visit to the NNR, so it would be great if you could take the time to fill in a survey for us, please. It mostly involves ticking boxes, so won’t take more than a minute!

We'd like your opinion. Tell us what you think and help us make the NNR better!

We’d like your opinion. Tell us what you think and help us make the NNR even better!

 

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