Heat and Heavy rain

We’ve had it all this week – scorching sun, torrential rain, really nice visitors who love the countryside and complete numpties who leave all their rubbish behind them. Yup, that’s the summer holidays for you! Our not-very-nice introduction to the week was to clear up an abandoned campsite ….extra annoying as we spoke to them the afternoon before and asked them to make sure they cleared up….so they left us this lot to pick up. In the rain. Oooh, we didn’t half think some bad words.

Tempting to caption this with words usually written by holding the "shift" key down and pressing the letters.....

Tempting to caption this with words usually written by holding the “shift” key down and pressing the numbers…..

Then the weather turned hot….so hot it even made the national news. That was pretty much the theme of the news on Tuesday, wasn’t it …It Is Hot In Scotland! It made it up to 29 degrees here on Tuesday…and the dragonflies were loving the heat.

Common hawker

Common hawker

The late-summer wild flowers are looking good in the sun. Probably the most striking of these are the foxgloves, up to six feet tall with a beautiful spike of purple or white flowers. I’ve never been sure why they’re called foxgloves…why would a fox need gloves?…but it may be a corruption of “folk’s gloves”. That perhaps came from “faerie gloves” becoming  “wee folk’s gloves”….you didn’t call the wee folk by name in case they heard you and came looking. These weren’t nice, twinkly fairies….these were bad milk-stealing, baby-swapping fairies and it did not do to come to their attention!

The foxgloves are at the height of their flowering and growth just now.

The foxgloves are at the height of their flowering and growth just now.

Foxglove in close-up

Foxglove in close-up

The bluebells are out too. I grew up calling these bluebells or Scottish bluebells but that can get confusing with the spring bluebells or wild hyacinths. But I just can’t get used to calling them harebells!

Bluebell

Bluebell

Bluebell or harebell

Bluebell or harebell

The “greenbottles” were loving the nectar produced by these thistles.

Thistle flower with greenbottles

Thistle flower with greenbottles

The weather made the news on the Wednesday night this week too, but not for the heat, for the massive thunder-and-lightning storms that battered the country. I’d hoped to get the grass cut on Wednesday before they hit but no such luck….and then the phone and power went too. It went really dark- I think it was even darker than the eclipse a couple of years back.

Getting dark...

Getting dark…

....darker ....

….darker ….

...and darker...

…and darker…

...and then the heavens opened. Stottin' rain!

…and then the heavens opened. Stottin’ rain!

So, it was cutting the grass on Thursday instead….25 degrees and 70% humidity….I’ve had more fun jobs, I’ll admit. However, the toads are loving the humidity and are crawling around everywhere just now.

We have seen heaps of toads in the warm, humid showery weather

We have seen heaps of toads in the warm, humid showery weather

The fungi are also enjoying the warm, wet weather and are starting to pop up all over the reserve.

Cep

Cep

After the grass cutting, we needed to cool off so it was time to go and count the ducks on Loch Davan. The highlight of the trip was spotting two, tiny, stripy great crested grebe chicks. They’re late this year so we hope they grow up fast.

The great crested grebes have two tiny chicks

The great crested grebes have two tiny chicks

We’re also going to digress briefly to plug a local grant scheme. Small grants of up to £250 are available to organisations and groups providing, or facilitating provision of, activities within the Cairngorms National Park. This includes youth groups, toddler groups, social clubs, local sports groups and special needs groups amongst others. So, if you could use the grant to visit us here, or you are within the Park and want some equipment, visit  http://cairngorms.co.uk/park-authority/funding/staff-charitable-group/

When hopping out of the landrover this afternoon, I stopped, wobbling, with one foot mid-air when something moved on the ground. I instantly assumed it was a toad – they’re everywhere just now- but quickly realised it was something rather more unusual. I’d nearly trod on a pipistrelle bat!  You don’t normally see them on the ground but I think it was a youngster and, at this time of year, they’re learning to fly. And, like all young animals, they sometimes get it wrong and wind up lost, outside the roost in daylight. We gently hung it on the wall below the roost entrance and it immediately began clicking and calling, then scrambled very speedily back into the roost.

Pipistrelle bat

Grounded Pipistrelle bat

If you come and see us this weekend, you’ll notice the bunting is up. It’s usually just up for the Fun Day, then we take it down. But it’s staying up because of the swallows. They’ve decided, very late on, to nest above the front door of the visitor centre, and we don’t want to freak them by climbing up ladders to take the flags down! So, if you’re here, look up…and spot the only swallows in the country that have bunting up for them!

Why the bunting is still up....we haven't taken it down so's not to disturb the swallows over the door!

Why the bunting is still up….we haven’t taken it down so’s not to disturb the swallows over the door!

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