I thought I'd drop in and post about some of the changes that have taken place now that Autumn has started to spread it's multi-coloured cloak over Cullaloe :-)
The trees are looking resplendent in shades of green, gold, crimson and amber - well worth bringing your camera with you to the reserve to capture a few shots of mother nature at her creative best! And with the crunch of newly scattered leaves underfoot and the crisp, fresh (and admittedly cold) air rejuvenating puffed-out lungs, the whole experience is like a re-birth into the world of nature! Watch out for the slippy wet leaves though - they can plant the unwary walker on their behind faster than you can say "Whooper Swan"! ;-)
And talking of Whooper Swans... guess which reserve has been playing host to a group of 5 of the birds for the last few days?! Yes, that would be our own Loch at Cullaloe! :-) As you know, we regularly have Mute Swans on the Loch, but for the last few days there have been a few battles of the bands as our 2 resident Mutes have attempted to scare off the 5 interlopers. They don't seem to have been successful yet though, so if you hop to it you might get to see them before they head off elsewhere. Mute Swans and Whopper Swans look quite different, so spotting who-is-who is fairly easy. As a quick guide, the Mute Swans have an Orange bill, whereas the Whooper's bill is Yellow with a Black tip. The way the birds hold their neck is also different, with the Mute Swan having the very graceful, and typical, S-shaped neck, whereas the Whooper holds its neck much more upright and straight.
One more thing - both the Mute Swans AND the Whooper Swans will bark loudly at each other in an attempt to frighten each other away - so don't be fooled by the Mute Swan's name and think that the only noisy ones are the Whoopers! ;-)
While you are at the Loch, take time to scan around the muddy edges. We have been treated to visits by a Redshank for the last few days. Grahame has now "put the plug back in" at the screen end of the Loch to allow the water level to rise again, so the mud will not stay exposed for much longer, but hopefully long enough for a few visitors to catch sight of the odd wading bird. If you do spy anything that we haven't mentioned, please feel free to use the "Comment" facility at the end of the blog to let us know :-)
Now that the year is gradually slipping towards winter, we have started filling up the seed and peanut feeders again. They are attracting a good amount of use already and have encouraged a few old friends to come back out into the open, such as the great spotted woodpecker. For those visitors who are new to the reserve, or for those who might have forgotten since summer, the peanut feeders are located on the dead tree to the left of the screen as you stand facing the Loch, and the seed feeders are on a dedicated stand to your right as you walk down the slope towards the spillway.
One last thing to draw to your attention is that the cadets from 859 Air Cadet Sqdn (Dalgety Bay) will be donning their clumpy boots, working gloves and hard hats, and grabbing their branch lopers all over again to help with the willow scrub clearing in the Snipe Bog! Work re-commences on 23 November 2008, so we'd like to say a big shout out to the Cadets for offering their help again this year! Thanks guys - we are looking forward to getting stuck in! :-)
Hope to see you down at the reserve whenever you take the notion. Take care all! Janie