The cold and grey of last week seems to be giving way to warmer weather. So much so that the adders, absent since last October, have emerged for the spring.
We first saw them on the 15th Feb, exactly a week later than last year. They may have been out before that, but we weren’t around last week to check. But maybe not- the two adders of Wed 15th had become five adders by the 17th, so they may just be emerging now. They’ll have spent the winter in rabbit burrows on a dry, south-facing bank and are now emerging as the sun warms the ground.
The adders don’t tend to get up until the middle of the day at this time of year. And who can blame them? It was minus two degrees this morning as the sun came up- and there is still snow on the surrounding hills.
Meanwhile, other wildlife is also on the move. We’ve had small groups of whooper swans starting to trickle through the reserve. These lovely birds are on their way north already, starting to move up through the UK to north-west Scotland. It’s the best “jumping off” point if you’re to migrating back to Iceland – the less of the north Atlantic you have to cross, the better!
Mind you, the local mute swans aren’t all that happy about these northern visitors and the male mutes keep chasing them around. Having said that, the mute swans aren’t that happy about anything right now- the males are getting charged with spring testosterone and are in the mood to fight with practically anything big and white. I’ve even heard of them attacking sheep in extreme cases. At the moment, they’re confining themselves to puffing up their wings and sailing up and down on the edges of their territories – but it won’t be long until some proper wing-beating, water-splashing, neck-pecking down-and-dirty fights start.
We’ve also had a couple away days this week, one to a meeting and another, more excitingly, helping clear the Forvie ternery for the return of the black-headed gulls and terns later in the year. We strimmed down a lot of dead nettle and willowherb stems to make it easier for the birds to land. Why? Well, imagine you’re the size of a tern. Now imagine trying to land in a forest of dead, spiky twigs (and that’s after you’ve flown from near the south pole). Not much fun, huh? So we try an make life easier for them by flattening the dead vegetation before the arrive. And it has to be done now, as the black-headed gulls will be on eggs by late March. Spring is definitely in the air!