January Warmth – Muir of Dinnet NNR

What a warm and lovely week it has been. After the storms of last week, the weather has settled and it’s at least pretending to be spring. Already? Well, the signs are all there but I can’t help but think the wildlife will get a nasty shock yet. But that’s not stopping the birds…already, some are singing. The great tits started way back on the 6th of January.

Great tit calling

We’ve added another couple of songsters this week, too. At least 3 mistle thrushes were singing by Tuesday, sitting right up on the highest tree or power lines, singing of love in a slightly melancholy and minor key.

Mistle thrush

And the chaffinches were getting off to an early start as well. It’s often it’s another fortnight until we hear them singing but at least a couple had started up beside the visitor centre.

Male chaffinch

Though not a ‘song’ the woodpeckers are displaying as well. Listen out for the ‘drrrrt’ of them drumming on a tree to declare it’s their territory.

Great spotted woodpecker

It has been so warm, I’ve been keeping half an eye out for adders. Not that I’m really expecting them just yet, and I was relieved that the ‘addery’ – their main hibernation and basking area – was still in the shade and reasonably cool for most of the day. You don’t really want the reptiles getting up just yet, it’s likely that there will be a cold snap and they use up too much energy and die if they wake up too early. But there’s been enough warmth in the sun to get at least some of the insect life going. There have been several swarms of insects, dancing in the sun, by the path this week….and I’m sure something bit me on Tuesday, that was the first itchy lump of the year.

Insects on the wing – In January!

Some of the plants are just starting to stick their heads up out of the soil. With the exception of the snowdrops, which always get off to an early start, I wouldn’t expect to see the first green until next month. But, in sheltered spots, the nettles at least are getting going.

The nettles are starting to grow

However, the trees won’t have leaves for at least another 2 months and this makes it easy to spot birds, especially now some have started singing. The mixed tit flocks are especially obvious in the bare trees, with long-tailed tits and goldcrests probably competing for title of ‘Cutest Bird in the Flock’.

Long-tailed tit

Long tailed tit

Goldcrest

You very often see treecreepers with these flocks as well. It makes sense – the more eyes there are, the more likely someone is to spot a predator and no-one will get eaten . You need to look closely to spot them – they are usually solitary and silent at the fringes of the flock, creeping mouse-like, up the trunk. Always up, never down…when they get as high as they want to go, they will fly back down again.

Treecreeper, up to its neck hunting for insects.

Treecreeper

The warm days have made for some lovely view across the lochs and cold, clear, but not-very-frosty nights. Unfortunately, the camera only has a minute’s shutter speed, so you can’t get great pics of the stars, but you can just make out Orion, the Hunter, always in pursuit of the Pleiades across the night sky. Day or night, the reserve is a wonderful place to be!

Starry sky

Phragmites reeds

Loch Davan

 

 

 

 

 

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