Friday, 31 August 2007

Dragonflies and Butterflies

I've been back from my little holiday for a few days and i've found that Cullaloe is positively alive with Dragonflies and Butterflies right now. There's several of (what i think is) the Common Darter dragonfly (now confirmed) about right now, which is shown below.

There's also lots of butterflies on the reserve. In particular Peacock and Small Copper can be seen in relatively large numbers. In addition I had my first sighting of a Painted Lady butterfly today. A first for me on the reserve, and a truly stunning butterfly! (shown below)

With a lot of the meadow that butterflies use having been recently cut down (this is done to allow a proper growth next year) the butterflies are more concentrated in smaller areas, which makes seeing them incredibly easy.
The birds have reduced a lot in numbers recently, with only adult birds seen on the feeders. Gone are the juvenile Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Great Tits and Chaffinches, although the juvenile Great Spotted Woodpeckers are still making an occasional appearance.
There has been an increase in the number of Tufted Ducks seen on the loch over the past week or two. I suspect that now that the breeding season is over with, they're coming back to Cullaloe for autumn and winter. We've had two new species seen on the reserve this past week, and those are the Curlew and the Black-headed Gull. This now takes our total to the 60 mark, since May, which isn't bad going!

In other news related to the reserve, Ross, the convenor for the reserve has had to give up the position due to time constraints. As a result, the position has now been passed onto myself. It seems i am no longer just a regular guy who likes the reserve. I'm actually getting to make an input on the reserve now, which is a really exciting prospect for me. It'll be interesting to see how the reserve works from the other side, to see how things are planned, how changes are made and how the species on the reserve is taken into consideration for these things.
I'm looking forward to taking on this challenge and trying not to step on too many toes! I love the reserve maybe a bit too much and i may end up shouldering my way into everything. I hope not, though!
Ross will still be involved with the reserve when time permits and i hope to see him there when the opportunity presents itself.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Not as quiet as it seems

A casual glance at Cullaloe just now will show very little life and very little action. I'd advise anyone visiting the reserve to look just that little bit closer.
Hidden in amongst the bushes, or just for those patient enough to wait and be still, there is a whole host of life on the reserve just now!
This week i've managed to scare at least two adult pheasants from the bushes, each with juveniles (and scared myself silly in the process!). The Bullfinches are more regularly seen than ever before, even showing themselves directly in front of the screen!
There are still warblers around in the bushes, but you really have to be quiet and still and above all patient to get good looks at these.
The most important sighting this week was the dragonflies. I saw two or three of these just yesterday flying around the path near the weir. This is the first time i've seen them for myself all year! An excellent sighting of some fascinating insects!
Tufted ducks are returning to the reserve, with three or four females now present. There has been a large influx of Mallard on the reserve, too, with over 20 sighted at one time! I don't think it will be long now till the winter visitors will be arriving, and it will be interesting to see what we get.

I'll be on holiday over the next week, so won't be visiting the reserve, so it may be a couple of weeks before i next have an update.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Interesting sightings

It's still quite quiet at Cullaloe on the migrant front, but there has been so many new and exciting things to see that it doesn't matter!
In the past week or so since i last updated, i've seen the return of the Kingfisher not once, but twice! So much so that i now know a couple of places where it perches, making it so much easier to see it in the future, too. I've spoken to the reserve manager about the possibility of adding a couple of artificial perches to potentially encourage them to hang around more., so we'll see what happens with that. Also this past week we've had a flock of 50-60 greylag geese circling the loch and potentially using the field which was formerly home to the flying flock of sheep.
Next to the same field i saw 2 juvenile bullfinches. That one is really good for me, because it's proof that the bullfinches in the area have been successful this year.
Speaking of breeding birds, the coots are at it again! There's a couple of very young chicks out on the loch at the moment and there's another coot sitting on a nest. That lot really don't know when to stop!
On that front, the water level on the reserve won't be lowered while they're still at it, so it's being postponed till September at the earliest. After speaking to the reserve manager, it seems there are quite a few plans in the works for the reserve. I won't go into detail here as i don't know what will happen and when, if any of the projects. These things all require funding, which as always, is in short supply.
Which leads to the shameless plug! If you want to help support the work of the Wildlife Trust, not just at Cullaloe, but throughout Scotland, join up! Become a member and show your support. Membership also gets you free entry to the reserves and visitor centre's of Loch of the Lowes, Montrose Basin and the Falls of Clyde. It doesn't cost much and every penny helps them out. If you want to make a simple donation, you can do that on the same place. Click THIS to go to the donation page for the trust. Look around the site here and have a look and see what work they do.
Ok, shameless plug over for now, i promise!

The reserve has also been alive with grasshoppers recently. They've cut back some of the grass in one of the meadows, which is making the grasshoppers particularly visible. I've actually managed to get a decent photo of one, too! I hope you like it, since getting it to sit still long enough was a bit of a challenge!

All in all, even with the reduction in migrants, the reserve still has an awful lot to show. The feeders are constantly in use, to the extent that my girlfriend and I are discussing adding more in the near future!