I’ve been out and about Loch Leven NNR a lot this week. Counting ducks, removing fallen trees, removing Giant Hogweed and cutting the verges around the trail. This has given me the opportunity to point the camera at the wildlife around the reserve.
Star of the show currently is the Coral-root Orchids. I’ve found 7 so far. These orchids are very scarce plants and so small they are often overlooked.
Other Orchids flowering include these Early Marsh Orchids. These orchids have a very vivid colour and there are around 50 in the colony on the south shore.
Our most common Orchid, the Northern Marsh is beginning to emerge around the reserve. It is particularly numerous around the north shore of the loch.
I was pleased to find some Chickweed Wintergreen flowering at Levenmouth under the pines. This plant is also known as Arctic Earthstar.
There is some Wood Avens in flower at Burleigh near the hide.
The Broad-leaved Dock is a scarce plant around Loch Leven. Known as Monks Rubarb it was first shown to me here by Stephen Longster in the Burleigh car park. That plant has now gone but this one which I first found in 2015 is still going strong.
I like this patch of Yellow-flag Iris growing in an isolated island in the middle of Carsehall. The plant is now flowering in all quarters of the reserve and looks spectacular.
We’ve started to cut the verges around the trail. It’s the second year since we took over from the council. These days road side verges are a hot topic where they are seen as a valuable wildlife resource. We like to treat our verges the same and do it in a nature friendly way. Some of the things we do include mowing round nice plants like Orchids, leaving clumps of clover for the Bees to feed on, only cut narrow strips where the path is wide, only cut one side of the path at the time and have a look for nesting birds before we cut. We fully understand that nettles can ruin a day out for a child but are also important for wildlife so we cut where we see there may be an issue.
Examples of Red Campion colour variation where the flowers are white. This is in the verge at Grahamstone.
We also rescued this fledgling Reed Bunting that was hidden in the verge. I think it thought we were going to feed it. We later saw the adult in attendance.
There are many Small Copper Butterflies around the reserve. Their food plant is Sheep Sorrel. It’s nice to have a look at their underwings for a change.
Caught in the act! These Green Nettle Weevils are all round the loch now. They lay their eggs in the nettles of which there are plenty right now.
It’s not often Craneflies get a mention on the blog. This distictive species is a female Nephrotoma Crocata. I watched it for a while as it layed its eggs in the soft sand. It is not a sting you see at the end of its abdomen, it is the ovipositor. The black and yellow stripes are part of its defense against birds.
I like a Ladybird in the blog. We’ve seen Striped Ladybirds before around the loch but more often wintering in leaf litter or under stones. This one landed on my neck at Carsehall.