It’s been a busy week. Baling, fungi, squirrels, geese, swans… It’s all happening! You just need to get out on the reserve and have a wander about. Virtually all of my sightings have been from the path.
Throughout the week I’ve been walking and cycling up and down the paths checking whether visitors have been sticking to the local access guidelines, and fortunately almost everybody has. The only thing I was noticing was a slight lack of respect when it comes to dog mess, especially around Burleigh. Please do pick up after your dog, there’s no such thing as the poo fairy!
Speaking of Burleigh, we were baling down there on Wednesday with the volunteers and, besides all the dog mess that we got on the wheels of our baler, we had a great day with a very well behaved baler! After baling at Burleigh, we went on round to Findatie with the trailer and have picked up some of the bales from there. We’ll remove more bales in the coming weeks and will try to make use of them!
Something that we’ve been getting more of on the reserve are the Whooper Swans. There’s now a lot of them that have managed to push through the recent easterly winds and are now happily “whooping” away on the loch. Look out for the swans with the yellow beak, instead of the orange beaked Mute Swans. They are easiest to see from Burleigh Sands.
Other wintering birds have been arriving including lots of winter thrushes, such as Redwings and Fieldfares that only occur here in winter. We’ve also had an increase in the numbers of Song and Mistle Thrushes, so keep an eye out for all of these on the Rowans that are groaning under the weight of their own berries this year.
It’s not only the thrushes that are becoming more obvious. Robins are setting up territories all around the reserve and can be heard “tack”-ing at you as you walk past them along the path. A bird that is a little more shy is the Bullfinch, but this beautiful male showed quite nicely as he fed on the seedheads of some Meadowsweet.
And of course, this wouldn’t be the Loch Leven blog in October if we didn’t have a picture of some Pink-footed Geese! This lot all lifted off the fields by Balgedie where they were feeding, and flew right over me.
You may remember we had a Fungi Foray event a couple of weeks back, well I’ve been keeping an eye out for fungi around the reserve and have found some nice ones. However, the best one I’ve found was so obvious that I didn’t have to look very hard at all!
This is something I’ve always wanted to see. This amazing organism, despite consuming dead matter, isn’t a fungi. It’s also not an animal, despite actively moving around in order to hunt down its prey. On top of all this, it’s one of the most colourful things on the reserve at the moment since the majority of the flowers have died back.
Keep an eye out for it along the path by Grahamstone, it could be anywhere, they can even move through tree trunks!
To finish off I’ll leave you with a wee compilation of photos from the past week. My camera has died unfortunately so the pictures end at Wednesday but it was quite nice just being out there and appreciating everything rather than cursing the autofocus for not picking up on the speck above Kinross House that was in fact a Peregrine Falcon!
Lastly, just a note to say, if any of you saw me coughing a lot at the side of the path, it’s because I was trying to identify a type of mushroom. I knew it was a milkcap because when the cap was broken, a sort of milk came out. One good way of identifying them to species is to taste the milk so I dabbed a bit on my tongue… Nothing. So I continued on, making a mental note that there was no taste, when suddenly my throat was on fire! It was one of the hottest things I’ve ever tasted, and turned out to be Fiery Milkcap. Well named, I must say.
P.S. Please leave the mushroom tasting to people who know what it is they are eating, some can be nastier than just very hot!