Monday, 16 July 2007

Unbelievable Day!

Have you ever had one of those 'WOW' days, when absolutely everything just seems to be there at the right time? I've just had one of those days at Cullaloe. I went along with my mother, who was determined she wanted to get some shots of some butterflies (particularly the dark green fritillaries found on the reserve) It was still a bit overcast after heavy rain overnight and this morning, so i was doubtful she'd have much luck
We got there to hear the sound of the little stream sounding like a torrent as it ran through the three pools and out the other side. A rather dull, plain day to start us off with only a couple of sedge warblers, a blackbird flying past, swallows overhead and a lone dunnock near the gorse.
We walked up the steps to the meadow bit at the top so that me mum could try for her butterflies. How wrong i was with those! Up on the initial piece of meadow there was meadow brown, ringlet, 6 spot burnet moth, 1 dark green fritillary and the first common blue butterfly we've seen on the reserve!
On the path to the willow screen we managed to see a male blackcap flitting in and out of one of the willows, whitethroat all over beside the path and in the trees, my first wood warblers on the reserve (No.1 new species for the visit) As we were getting closer to the little conifer plantation, the warblers were darting about all around us, they were everywhere! Even heard us a chiffchaff. As i entered the conifers, i was struck by the sheer volume of tits that could be seen. There was great tit, blue tit and coal tit in large numbers all over the place. Also saw a treecreeper a little more than half way up one of the pine trees (No.2 new species to the reserve seen this visit). We got to the screen to see the usual suspects on the loch. There was coot, moorhen, the swan family, a lone grey heron and a couple of mallards. There were also sand martins and swallows swooping about. My mum disappeared to go see if she could spot more butterflies while i stayed at the hide/screen
The feeders were crowded with blue tit, great tit, chaffinch and a juvenile great spotted woodpecker. I heard a big splash on the loch and saw a male dabchick had just arrived (No.3 new species for the reserve) It's just a shame i didn't see it flying. I've never seen a grebe in flight before!
As i turned back to the feeder, i noticed there was now a male siskin on the feeders (No.4 new species for the reserve) I didn't think they were big fans of peanut feeders, but i'm not complaining at the visit! Might have to consider a nyjer feeder for the finches, though.
I went to join my mum looking around another part of meadow to find yet more great tits on my large seed feeder. It's pretty unusual for me to see anything using this feeder. I normally just fill it up without knowing what is using it. There were also a couple of willow warbler flitting around the trees and singing away.
When i went back to the screen, the juvenile woodpecker had been replaced with an adult male and the siskin had gone (much to my disappointment - very colourful, pretty bird!)
I stayed there for a bit while my mother decided to go back to the original meadow in search of more photos.
When i decided to move along and catch up, again, wood warblers seen around the trees on the way back (How could i not see them for 2 months then see 4 or 5 in a single visit?!), a male reed bunting was sitting at the top of one of the bushes, singing his little heart out and 4 swifts were flying overhead.
Back at the car park, there were another couple of sedge warblers, a pair of goldfinch flew past and a good 4 or 5 linnet could be seen on the hill behind the reserve.
All in all, it was a spectacular visit - and to have 4 new species sightings for the reserve was great. Admittedly, i'd always thought most, if not all of the species would be about, but i hadn't actually seen them.

Some of my mother's photos are shown below

'Common Blue' Butterfly

'Meadow Brown' Butterfly

'Ringlet' Butterfly

I went back to the reserve this evening, to see if i could repeat the success, but it was not to be. I did however get another new bird added to the list (5 in one day!). On the way back, a pair of Bullfinches flew right in front of me!
The real highlight of the evening was when i was writing a text to my girlfriend. As i was motionless, i guess i wasn't as obvious.. and a bank vole ran across the path about 5 foot away from me! Brilliant!

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