It’s been another mixed week on the reserve. One morning, you’re inching your way along, trying not to slip off the road in the snow, the next it is 10 degrees warmer and you’re cruising along just fine. The mornings have often been cold and clear and we’ve had some spectacular sunrises this week.
Mind you, there’s some truth in the old saying “red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning”. In spite of the fine start, most days have deteriorated into rain for at least some of the day. Or snow- it was quite a surprise on Thursday morning to find the world had turned white.
It melted quickly though- it felt like rain in the woods with the snow melting in the sun. The trees were spectacular, as the low sun turned all the water droplets into gleaming jewels.
Morven continues to go from pure white to patchy snow on a seemingly daily basis. Most of the snow in this picture had gone by Friday.
A few chilly mornings have put a thin skin of ice on the puddles and the edge of the loch. You know it’s only just freezing though- the big ice crystals show that it has frozen very slowly.
The cold weather has meant the peanut feeder is in high demand. Only the squirrel trumps the great-spotted woodpecker for top spot on the feeder- unless you’re a cheeky coal tit and nip in for a feed anyway.
I’m surprised we haven’t heard the woodpeckers drumming yet. Often they are drumming by mid –January, as a male declares this is his patch in woodpecker Morse code. But some other birds are starting to think spring thoughts- we heard our first chaffinch and mistle thrush songs this week.
Some birds don’t have the luxury of pinching a free feed at a bird table. We spotted this lovely kestrel sitting on top of the trees at Old Kinord, looking for something small and squeaky for lunch. Voles are one of their main prey and they can spot vole runs in the grass in an unusual way. Voles mark their runs by urinating and vole pee fluoresces in ultra-violet light. We can’t see ultra-violet light, but kestrels can- so they look for fluorescent vole pee in the grass, find a run, wait for a vole to use it then pounce.
The goldeneye are continuing to display furiously on the lochs. Usually very flighty, now is the best time to see them as males are reluctant to quit their territories in case someone else moves in. Even the female goldeneye are getting in on the act- this female was displaying to her male- who didn’t seem all that impressed and pushed off to look for some food!
We’ll leave you with our first spring flowers this week. Like everywhere else, snowdrops are the first to pop their heads up in the spring and are probably an escape from a long ruined-and-disappeared house. I always get a kick from spotting these, every year, as it’s a sure sign of the seasons turning.