Finally, we’ve had some rain. The first rain for a fortnight fell on Tuesday, in a heavy thundershower. Simon took this dramatic photo at the Celtic cross. He claims it was sheer luck that the lightning struck in the background…but, if it was, I think he should be buying a lottery ticket!
The ground has been needing some rain. Some of the grass is going yellow with the dry weather and the trees are thirsty after putting on all of their spring green. Lately, the only moisture they’ve had has been dew from misty mornings. Nearly every day this week has dawned cool and grey, with mist rising off the lochs.
It’s been hard to spot the ducks out in the mist. The huge goldeneye brood from last week has completely eluded us this week- but we have seen another brood of 8 on Loch Davan. These are new ducklings but this female’s chick is large and nearly fledged already.
The swans were swimming in and out of the mist like white ghosts, all silent and graceful until they get too close to each other’s territories- then there’s an undignified clatter of wings, splashing and swan bad language. There are at least three broods on Davan just now- but it was too misty to get a decent photo. Just look at these mallards vanishing off into the mist!
Mind you, mist can be good for concealing us as well. This great crested grebe surfaced almost at my feet on Loch Davan. It was a bit suspicious but when I didn’t move, it decided I was just a funny-looking tree and got on with doing grebe-y things. It was joined by its mate and they both hung out inform of me for ages, preening, before they moved off. One of those “wow” moments.
When the mist does burn off, it often turns into a lovely day. These picture were taken less than an hour apart at Loch kinord.
The wildlife prefers the sun- and who can blame it? This adder has the right idea, having a good bask to get going in the morning.
You see more birds when it’s sunny, too- these young mistle thrushes were all rattling loudly in the trees.
This young roe deer was having a tentative peer over the vegetation. They spend most of their day lying down in log grass, to avoid predators- but now it is getting bigger, the young deer is getting more curious and just had to have a look around.
The spotted flycatcher above the back door has hatched at least one youngster- we’ve seen her coming and going with food. She often perches on the branch by the trailer to sally forth after insects- or have a wash and brush-up after sitting for a while.
The warm weather has also been great for seeing dragonflies. I haven’t seen any of the larger species –common hawker or golden ringed- yet, they only emerge mid to late June, but Parkin’s Moss is hoaching with four-spotted chasers right now. I’ve never seen so many- and you can even hear their wings rustling as the zoom by, or jostle and scrap with one another for mates. I’ve had no luck whatsoever catching one mid-flight with the camera, but you can grab a shot when they (briefly) settle.
The large red, common blue and emerald damselflies are out too. We haven’t seen any northern damselflies yet- but we’ll keep looking.
While out looking at the damselflies, we startled a common lizard. It took off from almost under our feet and chose a rather unusual escape route- straight into the water! I’ve never seen a lizard swim before but it could do so quite efficiently! (there’s a wee video on our NNR facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Scotlands-National-Nature-Reserves-125227577507847/ ). It was maybe a bit paranoid about predators as it was clearly on at least its second tail – lizards can lose then grow back tails but you can always tell that it’s not the original one.
We also saw heaps of tadpoles in the ditch. They seemed to be just hanging out, lazing on one of the dams in the sun. So, if you’re out on the reserve and it’s sunny, we can definitely recommend the Parkin’s Moss route- and make sure you have a look in the ditch too!