This week we have experienced some bizarre weather on the reserve with some extreme heat and lingering humidity. Wednesday saw the hottest September day in Scotland in106 years and out on the ground it was pretty uncomfortable, with a temperature breaking 27°C and 96% humidity. Coming in to enjoy the wildlife on a sunny day off I was surprised at the lack of movement and the quietness.
I changed tack and took some time to appreciate the smaller things that abound.
With its papery petals and delicate appearance, you might think the harebell a rather fragile wild flower. In fact, it’s incredibly tough and resilient. It just needs to be given the environment it grows in: the harebell is a wild flower of dry, open places from the bare slopes of hills to the windswept coast.
Within our grassland I noticed this superb looking spider – a female 4 spot Orb weaver spider.
The heaviest spider in Britain at a impressive 17mm across her abdomen, this large female was laying in wait for a passing grasshopper. This species builds its web close to the ground to catch jumping insects. The female builds the more elaborate web, complete with a funnel-shaped retreat where she goes during inclement weather. She amazingly can change colour. It takes her about three days to take on the colours that accurately match her surroundings. An amazing adaptation!
Our butterflies are gradually on the wane as our flowers die back with Peacock butterflies dominating and a few Red Admiral and Painted Lady occasionally making an appearance flying high and fast.
Starting each spring and continuing through the summer these strong flying butterflies make northward migrations from North Africa and continental Europe. The immigrant females lay eggs and there is a consequent influx of fresh butterflies from July onwards, arriving here about this time every year.
Our swallows are gathering in numbers with the 2nd broods successfully fledged.
By early September, most swallows are preparing to migrate. They flutter about restlessly, and often gather on telegraph wires. Most leave the UK during September, with early broods of youngsters being the first to go. I watched as a kestrel took a watchful position a little way off.
After the blazing sunshine has come two days of wreathing mistiness. It has been eerily quiet across the a glass calm Loch Kinord with the mist seeming to stifle noise. Its very atmospheric and a little unnerving.