The Loch Leven NNR blog has been somewhat inactive over the past few weeks and for that I apologise. There are a whole manner of excuses I could come up with but I won’t bore you with those. Instead, lets marvel at the marvelous wildlife that has been making itself known in recent weeks…
One of the most abundant bits of wildlife around Loch Leven at the moment are these. I suspect that if you’ve visited the reserve recently then you definitely saw them. They are non-biting midges, also called Chironomids, which is good news because the place would be inhospitable if they were bloodsuckers!
I’m going to put up a few signs that explain some things about them around the reserve. Basically, they are of no harm to you or I other than occasionally getting in you eye or ear, but they are a huge help to many of the animals around Loch Leven. Today whilst I was out planning a wee job, some screaming above my head alerted me to the presence of lots of Swifts.
These Swifts have only recently arrived having made their way back from their wintering grounds in southern Africa. They were going crazy with the number of flies that were out, crazy with happiness I should say. It was like watching a cat with some catnip.
Another recent returner to the reserve was the above Large Red Damselfly, which will also enjoy snacking on the abundance of Chironomids that are to be found almost all the way around the Heritage Trail.
There have been plenty of other beautiful insects out and about on the reserve, the butterflies in particular have been enjoying this warm, dry spell. My favourite was the wee Small Copper that was out amongst the Sheep’s Sorel (the red flowers in the picture with the butterfly itself) which is the foodplant of the Small Copper caterpillars.
Bumblebees haven’t bee quite so common but there’s few workers out and about. Whilst I was looking for Green Hairstreak butterflies on the Blaeberry at Levenmouth I was treated to some nice views of a Red Squirrel.
At this time of year the squirrels sometimes struggle a little as the food they stocked up in the Autumn is running out but the acorns, berries and other tree nuts haven’t come out yet. Fortunately the Scots Pines keep them satisfied and you can often hear them nibbling apart the cones, and sometimes you even get cones dropped on the path in front of you.
Non-animal wildlife included some very nice looking things as well. Flowers in particular are becoming more obvious. Here’s this blog post’s compilation…
If you sift through those pictures you’ll find Holy-grass which is a very rare plant. You only really get it in a few localities in southern Scotland, the Hebrides and Orkney. It’s called Holy-grass because the monks used to use it on the floors of churches because it smells quite nice, like vanilla I’ve read.
The last thing I’ll post a picture of is this cute wee Lapwing chick from our friends over at RSPB, taken by me but at RSPB. It’s nice to see them running about in the grass as a parent stays nearby. The chicks of waders, ducks, geese and swans are often precocial meaning that they are capable of fending for themselves as soon as they leave the confines of their egg.
So, we’ve had our bat walk, and we have our History Walk coming up this Sunday, meeting at the Loch Leven’s Larder car park at 1pm with the walk around the east side of the loch lasting until about 4pm. David Munro will be leading and Jeremy will be there as well.
Also coming up is our biggest event of the year…
This will be taking place on Sunday the 28th of May, in a couple of weeks. There will be lots of organisations there holding activities for all of the family, cake, lots of information on all aspects of Loch Leven, and of course we’ll be there!
I hope to see you then, and perhaps I’ll bump into you on the Heritage Trail before then as we wade through the non-biting midges! Also, enjoy the weather whilst it lasts, I think it’s going to get a bit damper next week, which is good news for a lot of the plants which have been struggling a little bit.
P.S. I meant to mention that Loch Leven has many species of non-biting midge, but one in particular is very special as it is only found at Loch Leven. It’s name? It’s name is Cladontanytarsus donmcbeani… not terribly catchy but perhaps we could call it McBean’s Non-biting Midge? These flies are pretty difficult to identify to species level though so I’m afraid I can’t find this one for you. Although, I guess there’s enough of the usual ones out there for you to appreciate without seeing this particular species.