Spring is Springing

Spring is Springing. It’s been mild but windy this week. But, when spring feels like it is really springing, I always get wary and start asking myself the big questions in life. No, not Brexit or the referendum….if I take the winter tyres off my car, will it  snow?  March has been fine the past few years but April has seen some of the worst snow of the winter. Let’s hope this singing robin doesn’t have cause to be silent by next week!

Sing up- it’s spring!

The adders have been basking in the sun. They don’t seem to like the wind- maybe it makes for weird vibrations they pick up or something, but they always seem jumpier on windy days and more likely to slide off into the wall.

Adder, hidden in the grass

Dark coloured male adder

We’ve been seeing a lot of crossbills around the Burn o Vat this week. They are hard to spot until you learn their “chip, chip” call, then you hear and see them fairly frequently. You usually hear the call when they’re flying but we’ve had a male sitting singing just down the road from the visitor centre. It’s an odd song- fairly quiet, with lots of disjointed phrases and burbles- and not something you hear all that often.

Male crossbill

Not like the song thrush, who has been giving it laldy in the car park. You can hear him even with doors and windows shut.

Song thrush on top of the Douglas firs

This week has really marked the spring entrance of frogs and toads onto the wildlife scene. They’re everywhere! You can hardly walk on the paths without nearly treading on toads and the frogs are being frankly randy in every pool on the reserve.

Frog, on the lookout for a mate

Mating frogs

Toad on the path

All this mating activity leads to the production of what must be gallons of frogspawn across the reserve. This includes in newly-crated pools on Parkin’s Moss, that resulted from the damming work we did over the winter. A lot of work on bogs is long-term…come back in 500 years and it’ll look just great…..so it’s nice to see an immediate seal of approval from the wildlife!


Frog spawn in pool created by Parkin’s Moss dam

The geese are pairing up on the lochs and starting to set up territories. Of course, being graylag geese, they can’t do this without huge amounts of honking, squawking, bickering and clattering. It’s a right racket! But they are getting so uptight as they are close to breeding- I’d expect some to be on eggs by the end of next week.

Greylag pair

A couple of the odder-looking residents from last year have returned. At least two of the graylag/ barnacle goose hybrids are hanging around the lochs. They may attempt to breed but will probably fail- usually hybrid geese are sterile.

Hybrid barnacle/graylag geese – barlag or greynacle- take your pick!

The hybrids are much smaller than the graylag geese

We’ve had a couple of “firsts”  for the year this week. We had our first bumblebee on Monday- which I didn’t get a picture of- and our first lizard- who did pose for a picture We’re also waiting for the first migrants back- surely the sand martins will show up any day now. So, if you’re out and about this weekend, keep your eyes peeled- you never know what signs of spring may appear!

Basking in the sun

The fist lizard of the year









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