Well, whaddya know? It’s nearly Christmas and so far the autumn/ winter has been mild and pretty wet. Again. It was so grey and miserable one day we were just forced to put up the Christmas tree to cheer ourselves up.
Still, at least it’s not been nearly so bad here as down south. You feel so sorry for those folks flooded out of their homes. Here, you can see the extra water in the loch levels – these trees aren’t normally in the water. Wetlands like these play a hugely important but largely overlooked part in mitigating flooding. Yes, the loch may be on a path here but that’s no big deal- the water being stored here isn’t winding up in someone’s living room further downstream.
And grey skies promise a bit more rain.
At least the mild weather has meant some more of the path resurfacing has happened….the hardcore isn’t frozen into one large lump any more.
While out picking up litter, we were closely investigated by a pair of buzzards wheeling overhead. They were probably hoping we’d do something useful, like die, so they could eat us! Buzzards are great disposers of carrion and it wasn’t long before they decided we looked too healthy and turned their attention to a nearby dead rabbit.
We’ve had fairly threatening-looking clouds most of the week. They make for some dramatic skies.
A glimmer of sun is most welcome….it brings the colours to life.
An unexpected patch of chanterelle provided an splash or orange colour. We didn’t expect to see these this late in the year, and assumed they were litter until we got close up.
The wet hollows in the wood are full of Polytricum or star moss. It was used by our ancestors to make string and rope…some was found preserved underwater in the remains of a crannog on Loch Tay. It’s not hard to see why if you pull a wee bit up- it has massively long, tough and pliable stems.
Most of the reserve is now in its winter dress of grey and brown. But it’s the best time to appreciate the trees- you can really see their shapes and forms when they lose their leaves.
The bare trees mean it is much easier to spot birds in the trees. The mixed tit flocks haven’t been all that confiding, up until now at least- it’s been fairly mild so they haven’t been as bold as they are when the conditions are really tough. But that may be changing- today was the first really good views I’ve had of a mixed flock this winter.
It’s not just the tit flocks either- the cormorants on Castle Island are easy to see now, too.
Most surprising was being able to get some pictures of long-tailed tits. They are lovely little birds- but are constantly on the move, so you rarely get time to focus and snatch a shot. They have (as their name suggests) very long tails….their tail is usually even longer than their body!
Even some normally shy bullfinches were semi-approachable.
And….as it’s getting closer to Christmas….we’ll leave you with a “Christmas-y” picture. One of the reserve’s few holly trees is in full berry right now and looks gorgeous. She’s only a small tree but is weighed down with beautiful scarlet berries.