Monday, 4 July 2016

Secret squirrrels

The Safari and Wifey had a rare Sunday out together and we decided to have a trip out to the Southside to the pinewoods where there is a population of Red Squirrels. The dunes are packed full of exotic flora and fauna, endemic Dune Helleborines, rare Natterjack Toads, even rarer Sand Lizards and bedazzling Dark Green Fritillary butterflies along with a whole host of other more common and familiar species. Not that we saw any of the rarities but to be fair we didn't have long enough to do much of the enormous site. We concentrated on the seried rows of planted Scots Pine trees where the Red Squirrels are most frequently seen.
The trees are densely packed in places and their canopy casts enough shade to prevent any other species growing in the generally poor sand spoil.
The  bark has some superb shapes and textures on the larger trees

Walking up from the car park we saw a family peering into the woods with their binoculars, seeing our bins they beckoned us over but the Red Squirrel they were watching on the ground climbed up the back of a tree and into the canopy never to be seen again before we reached them and that was the nearest we got to one all afternoon.
We sat and waited, walked round and watched, had an ice cream and waited again all to no avail. We saw plenty of Magpies and Woodpigeons, a Jay which we would never have considered seeing when we worked here in the early 80s and heard a Nuthatch another species we wouldn't have dreamed of here all those years ago.
We walked round one last time without seeing any Red Squirrels but did see some arty tangled exposed roots where the sand had been blown from around them by the strong winds over the years.
From there we went on a family visit and while we were at our ancestral home watching through the sitting room window we saw a male Blackbird coming and going with beakfuls of small worms for a family of nestlings while a couple of Swifts scythed through the air at speed between the rooftops. Somethings haven't changed since the early 80s then.
This morning we had an early site visit near the nature reserve. We parked up and was immediately struck at how peaceful it was. There was barely any human noise just birdsong. Blackcaps, Sedge Warblers, Whitethroats, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Robins, Wrens and a Song Thrush all singing away.
Whitethroat in full song - but look above it...reddening Hawthorn berries...Arrrggghhhh
The warming morning sun was bringing the insects out. Speckled Woods were the most common  butterflies but the best sighting was our first Small Skipper of the year.
Our first Brown Hawker dragonfly was on the wing too but wouldn't settle for a pic, LR also spotted a 'blue' dragonfly, probably an Emperor but we totally missed it. He then found us a 'blue' damselfly.
It's a Common Blue Damselfly but one with a bit of a difference. The usual 'blob on a stalk' mark on segment 2 isn't quite right, it's not a blob and there isn't a stalk!
While discussing what we came to see a Chiffchaff was spotted talking food down into a dense clump of grass to feed its young.
Also nearby on a rather blowy leaf was a cracking Scorpion Fly.
It didn't sit there long which was a shame as we would have liked a closer crisper pic, this is a pretty heavy crop.
Nowt on the sea during our very brief rain stopped play Patch 2 visit.
Where to next? Hopefully Patch 2 will be more interesting and less wet tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know who's ripening in your outback.

No comments: