Muir of Dinnet NNR – May Away!

Have just written the date down and, blimey, it’s June already. Where is the year going? It’s been as dry a year as I can remember, with only 21mm of rain locally. We’ve had lots of lovely days, with hot sunshine and blue skies.

A spectacular sky over Loch Kinord

Last weekend was really fine. Unfortunately, a small part of me dreads fine weather as it can attract some, shall we say, less responsible visitors. We all know the sort – they can’t be bothered taking their rubbish away, they light stupidly large fires, break trees for said fire and their toilet habits leave a lot to be desired. All of Monday was spent clearing up after them, including a lot of what is euphemistically referred to as “human waste”. We realise that people have to “go” outdoors – but what’s so difficult about picking a discreet spot and burying it? It is frustrating when we have may 400- 500 lovely visitors over the weekend- but it takes all day to clear up after no more than a dozen not-so-lovely ones.

Irresponsible fire pit

Tissues- and other things- left by the path

With the hot weather, it’s been feeling more like summer than spring. The flowers coming out now are late-spring ones, like pignut and stitchwort. If you see white flowers round the lochs just now, it could well be them.

Pignut (the small, frothy-looking one) and stitchwort

Pignut and stitchwort

Or chickweed wintergreen. it’s the white, starry flower that is everywhere in the woods right now.

Chickweed wintergreen

Chickweed wintergreen

But the white stuff you see down on Parkin’s Moss isn’t a flower. It’s bog cotton, the seed heads of cotton grass. There is quite a nice display of it visible from the boardwalk  on the Moss.

Parkin’s Moss is covered in bog cotton

Bog cotton

Lots of the birds have youngsters right now. These mallard ducklings are quite well grown and will be fledged soon.

Mallard ducklings, well grown

Half fluffy, half feathered

The baby greylags are getting big too. We have seen a few “creches” of them out on the loch.

Greylag creche

Whereas these long-tailed its are not long out of the nest. I’ve never found a completed long-tailed tit nest, but they are masterpieces of avian architecture. They can contain over 6000 pieces of material, including a lining of around 2000 feathers.  If you add up all the trips needs to build the nest, it’s estimated that the tits fly about 700 miles, that’s Land’s End to Aberdeen, just gathering nesting material. It will have provided a secure home for these youngsters until very recently.

Long tailed tit, newly fledged

Young long-tiled tit

You can see their bright red eyelids, which look even redder with the excitement of being fed. But, (useless fact for the day) when a long-tailed tit is stressed, their eyelids turn yellow as blood is diverted elsewhere in the body.

Cute!

Grub’s up!

The lapwing chicks are getting big too, but it wasn’t those which caught our eye in the fields this week. There is still a large, sandy-coloured rabbit going about….still having avoided being eaten in spite of being more obvious then all the other bunnies.

Sandy coloured rabbit

This blue damselfly was perched beside Loch Kinord while we were clearing up on Monday. I didn’t think much about it at the time (was too busy muttering darkly about people leaving yukky stuff by paths!) but when I looked at on the computer, I’m wondering if it might be a northern blue damselfly. These are much rare than the common blues – but you do find them here. I’d be grateful if anyone could confirm one way or the other- common or northern?

blue damselfly

And there are lots of bite-sized bunnies around too. It’s a time of plenty for things that eat rabbits!

Baby bunnies

Finally, if you fancy a trip somewhere that isn’t Dinnet this weekend, I can thoroughly recommend St Cyrus NNR. We were down there on Wednesday and the wildflowers are lovely-and will only get better for the next couple of months.

Northern marsh orchid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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