Fun Days and Wet Days

Sooooo…in the bible, when it rained for 40 days, they called it “The Flood”. Here, in Scotland, we call it “The Summer”….it’s been days (weeks?) since we’ve not had at least some rain every day. The Met Office agrees – June was the worst for 68 years. And it’s continuing into July too. But we were incredibly lucky last Friday to get a dry day for our Fun Day – it rained all night then went off for us!

Concentrating hard on building a bird box!

Concentrating hard on building a bat box!

Nature necklaces

Nature necklaces

Waiting for the rush in the bird box tent

Waiting for the rush in the bird box tent

Setting up

Setting up

Face painting- for children of all ages!

Face painting- for children of all ages!

Atten-shun! On parade for the Fun Day!

Atten-shun! On parade for the Fun Day!

Who says SNH staff never have anything interesting to do on the computer? Mottled beauty moth on Burn o vat computer!

Who says SNH staff never have anything interesting on the computer? Mottled beauty moth on Burn o Vat computer!

Peering into the pond life tank

Peering into the pond life tank

The tea tent. Mmmmmmm. Affa fine cakes!

The tea tent. Mmmmmmm. Affa fine cakes!

Birthday boy. Ewen's birthday coincided with the fun day- so we all had chocolate cake for breakfast!

Birthday boy. Ewen’s birthday coincided with the fun day- so we all had chocolate cake for breakfast!

We think (hope) a great time was had by all. And thanks to (deep breath) John, Catriona (not me!), Deirdre, Duncan, Mary, Joanna, Mhorag, Daryl, Simon, face painter Marley, storyteller Joan and Ewen (who even gave up his birthday!) for making it such a great day. Our next  event is  Friday 22nd July if you want to come and join in!

Poster - nature notebooks2

This week, we’ve been in and out, trying to dodge the showers. We had one visitor-induced grumpy fit mid-week, when someone abandoned a wrecked rubber dingy full of rubbish, plus tent, food and innumerable beer bottles by Loch Davan. You can really see why we ask people not to take boats onto this loch- you can’t get through the vegetation round the edge without damaging it. Getting rained on while clearing up this lot really did put the tin lid on the bad mood.

Abandoned boat full of rubbish- and there was plenty behind me too.

Abandoned boat full of rubbish- and there was plenty behind me too.

Still, at least the water lilies are beautiful, and can cheer you up even after that sort of stupidity….(grrrrr).

White water lilies

White water lilies

White water lilies

White water lilies

Water lilies

Water lilies

Water lily

Water lily

It’s been pretty quiet on the reserve wildlife-wise and will be for the next few weeks until (dare I say it) autumn really starts. Already there are hints of autumn, with things like these hazel nuts already looking quite well formed.

The hazelnuts are forming

The hazelnuts are forming

In other respects, it’s the height of summer. Young birds are still appearing and can be endearingly bold…or perhaps “innocent” is a better word. It’s just that they’ve not seen people before, so don’t think we’re a threat- which is nice, given that most wildlife disappears as soon as it spots us. I’ve heard that from bird ringers too, in the high Arctic, where birds have never seen people – they’ve had birds like ruff hide under their jackets when a gyr falcon has flown over- that’s much scarier than this guy putting a ring on your leg. This young willow warbler didn’t know what to make of us and soon decided that aphids and other soft, squishy insect-y things in the tree were far more interesting.

What are you?

What are you?

...hmmm. Still not sure.

…hmmm. Still not sure.

Young willow warbler.

Young willow warbler.

Foraging in the leaves

Foraging in the leaves

Living up to their Latin name "Phylloscopus", meaning "leaf explorer

Living up to their Latin name “Phylloscopus”, meaning “leaf explorer

Some birds are still feeding young, probably second broods by now. This reed bunting had a right gobful of flies- but he wasn’t going anywhere near his nest until we cleared off. So we left him to it.

Male reed bunting with a gobful of grub.

Male reed bunting with a beakful of grub.

We’re starting to get asked what the strange, webby things are on some of the trees. The chances are the tree in question is a bird cherry and the “webby things” are webs of the bird cherry ermine moth caterpillar.  As their name suggests, that’s what the caterpillars eat- bird cherry leaves. In some years, they can strip the trees bare …and the trees can look quite spooky, all bare and hung with hundreds of webs.

Bird cherry with lots of ermine moth webs

Bird cherry with lots of ermine moth webs

Bird cherry ermine moth caterpillar webs

Bird cherry ermine moth caterpillar webs

We’ve been seeing quite a few roe deer this week but they don’t usually hang about for a photograph. You can often get quite good views of them if you don’t stop and look at them, but keep walking slowly and watch them out of the corner of your eye. Like all animals that (at some point) evolved to live in a herd or deal with predators, roe deer are very sensitive to nuances of body language. They will instantly pick up a change in body posture that means you’re turning towards them- and that’s a threat, and they’re off. This doe hadn’t spotted us- hence the picture.

Roe doe. All the roe deer are looking very red just now as they are coming into rut.

Roe doe. All the roe deer are looking very red just now as they are coming into rut.

We’ve only seen the one adder this week, getting a bit of basking in prior to a mid-summer skin shed. If you look closely you can see the slightly cloudy eye that suggests he’ll be shedding before too long.  Keep an eye out for him, and any other wildlife, if you come and see us this weekend….oh, and bring your waterproofs!

Adder coming up for mid-summer skin-shed.

Adder coming up for mid-summer skin-shed.

 

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