Thrushing around – Muir of Dinnet NNR

Firstly, thanks to Ewen for a great blog last week. If you’ve been waiting with baited breath to know the answer to his question about the deer footprint- it’s at the end of this blog.

This week, you can’t set foot on the reserve without being aware of the thrushes. There were good numbers of redwing and fieldfare around a fortnight ago but there must have been a massive arrival from the continent last week.  I came back this week to the white noise of huge thrush flock stripping berries from around the Vat trail.

Redwing in rowans

Redwing in rowans

A lot of the rowan trees have lost their leaves by now but are still heavily laden with berries. This has made the thrushes easier to spot.

The rowans have lots their leaves but still have berries

The rowans have lots their leaves but still have berries

Bare rowans

Bare rowans

But it hasn’t made them any less shy. They are wild and wary birds, taking off with chuck-chuck-chuck-ing alarm calls when you appear. Birds feed voraciously on rowans, then go and sit high up in a non-food tree, usually a birch, to digest the berries (and poo lots – an all-fruit diet will do that to you). These birds often seem to act as sentries for the rest of the flock and are the first to kick up an alarm – and they get the flock out of there in fairly short order!

Slightly out-of-focus but showing red "armpit"

Slightly out-of-focus but showing red “armpit”

Redwing in birch tree, keeping a look-out

Redwing in birch tree, keeping a look-out

Lookout bird

Lookout bird

Often all you will see is a lot of retreating birds, winging their way away over the trees.

Fieldfares flying

Thrushes in flight

The trees are starting to look a little bare now. The birches are losing their leaves rapidly but some of the aspens are at their most golden right now. If you do want to enjoy the autumn colours, I’d suggest getting out sooner rather than later – the leaves are going in earnest now.

Autumn aspen

Autumn aspen

The aspen tree beside Burn o Vat is at it's most golden just now

The aspen tree beside Burn o Vat is at it’s most golden just now

Autumn colours

Autumn colours

The trees lok dramatic against the grey sky

The trees look dramatic against the grey sky

We’ve had a few frost this week and this will be hastening the colour change in any still-green leaves. It was minus two degrees on Tuesday morning- the first day it has been cold enough to freeze the puddles as well as there being a grass frost.

frosty bracken

frosty bracken

Frosty gorse

Frosty gorse

Frosty grass

Frosty grass

Frosty tufted hair grass

Frosty tufted hair grass

Frozen puddle

Frozen puddle

But the frosts aren’t lying for long. The sun is melting them off early in the day.

Frost melting off bracken

Frost melting off bracken

In answer to the puzzle about the deer prints, you can tell if a deer is running if the two “toes” at the front are splayed and you can see the marks of the two dew claws ( the two dots at the back of the back print)at the back. These are only usually visible if the deer is running on firm ground.

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Running roe deer prints

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