Thursday 9 June 2011

Thursday 9th June

Whilst I was out this morning putting up signs to close off the rifle range for a long range shoot which is taking place today, I just happened to look up from the sign in the Glen Tilt car park and there, sitting in the tree just above me was a Goldcrest. They are beautiful little birds with a bright yellow or orange stipe running along the top of their heads and are the smallest songbirds in UK, along with the Firecrest which only occurs in Southern England.

Whilst working at Loch Ordie yesterday a yellowhammer was spotted singing on a gate post. These birds are very impressive looking with the bright colouration which is a stark contrast to the surrounding landscape. There were also loads of sandpipers flying around the lochs and lapwings in the area.

More wildlife was spotted when out doing a butterfly transect a few days ago up at Glen Fender meadow. As I stopped to identify a butterfly basking on a rock another one appeared and they started fluttering around each other off into the sky. They were small tortoiseshells which can be identified by their bright orange colouration and the blue D shapes which run along the edge of their wings. This species of butterfly have been declining over the past few years which may be down to parasitism by the fly Sturmia bella. These flies lay their eggs on the plants near feeding larvae which then eat the eggs whole. The eggs hatch inside the tortoiseshell larvae and start feasting on its insides leaving the vital organs. Once it has fully grown the fly parasite kills the host then emerges and pupates into its adult fly form to continue the life cycle. This occurs before the tortoiseshell larvae has managed to pupate itself. This fly species also infects other butterflies such as the Peacock and Red Admiral but the life cycle of the small tortoiseshell may be more synchronised to the fly making parasitism higher in this species.
Further along the butterfly transect a mouse was spotted sitting as still as possible so as not to be seen by predators. It was only about half a meter from my feet and looked really cute sitting in the wildflower meadow. There were also loads of curlews calling and flying around, hares hopping about and a roe deer grazing higher up on the slopes so all in all a good day for wildlife watching.


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