Birds and bees and toads….

The bank holiday weekend started slowly weather wise with the weather slowly improving from Good Friday onwards.

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Bank Holiday Monday was a fine clear morning once the fog had cleared. The temperature topped 16 degrees. All the car parks were full and hundreds of people enjoyed a trip to Loch Leven NNR.

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At one point early in the morning, the south side of the loch was covered in fog and the north side was clear. You can just see Benarty sticking out the top with the Castle Island in front.

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To the west the fog lingered. This photo was taken around lunch time. The Ochils just in view with a bank of fog in front. Funny how different the weather can be just a few miles away.

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The frogs laid their spawn a few weeks ago and I have even found some tadpoles already. Now its time for the toads. There was a good toad chorus from the reed beds at Carsehall.

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After disturbing the toad from the picture above, he swam down to the depths to escape, only to disturb another toad down below. The slow motion ‘handbags’ was quite entertaining with the toad on the right holding his ground, making him the apparent winner.

P1120070There are definitely more bees around which is good news for our insect surveyors who started again this Monday. I’ve spotted 4 species already. This Buff-tailed Bumbeebee was looking quite groggy when I picked her up the other day. There is little for them to feed on right now. If you look closely, you can see the side of the thorax is covered in parasites. I do not know whether these passengers are a burden to her.

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My first Common Carder was more lively than the Buff-tail above. This was the best photo I could manage! Butterbur is one of the few plants in flower right now. I’m not sure how much sustinence was gained form it.

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Burleigh Sands was alive with birdsong. Goldcrests, Blackbirds, Great tits and Treecreepers were all singing yesterday morning. The most unexpected song was from the Starling. I don’t often hear them singing away from the villages around the loch. I wonder where this pictured bird intends to nest?!

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In this picture you can see the male bird collecting lichen for lining its nest. We’ll keep an eye on this birds progress this nesting season.

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Here is a picture of a Grey Partridge. This species is struggling within its British range mainly to changes in agriculture. I used to see groups of 20 or more around the loch. Now I just see singles and occasional pairs. I snapped this bird near Carsehall.

Long may this weather continue. The first Osprey of the year was at Burleigh on Saturday evening. Are the floodgates of migrant birds just about to open? Chiffchaffs are now singing around the reserve. Listen out for their distictive song of which they are named after.

 Edit – The second bee photographed is in fact a Solitary Bee. Thanks to Dick A for re-identifying.

About @jeremysquire

Naturalist living in Kinross-shire originally from Gloucestershire. Twitter @Jeremysquire
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One Response to Birds and bees and toads….

  1. Dick Alderson says:

    Great photographs Jeremy, they capture the beauty of this unusual weather very well,
    I think however that you will find that your “First Common Carder” is in fact a solitary bee, most probably of the genus Andrena. They construct tunnel nests in sandy paths and banks which are stocked with pollen and nectar in separate chambers in which a single egg will be laid. There are a lot of species, mostly recorded from the south of England, but some also range up into Scotland. We also saw one during Monday’s counting, near to the sand martin bank, so they may find that a very suitable nesting area. For more information see the BWARS site.
    Dick

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