Monday 29 October 2012

Rowan Berry Bonanza

This year may be a poor one for apples, pears and other tree fruit, but not for the rowans. The trees are red with fruit, and adding to the spectacular autumn colour show we have this year. The early frosts have given our trees dramatic colours and because we haven't had too many windy days, the leaves are lingering on the trees.

Glen Tilt looking glorious. Notice the bright red rowan tree.

Back to the rowan... the berry bonanza is great news for many birds. Visitors such as redwings and fieldfares are well known for stopping on migration to feast on the berries. But it's not just the birds that enjoy the feast. Clues on the ground show us that some mammals have been enjoying them too! But what mammal is nimble enough to climb up to where the berries are ? Only squirrels or pine martens. The red squirrels are busy enjoying the harvest of beech nuts and hazelnuts just now, and also the size of the dropping indicates something bigger. Pine martens also enjoy blaeberries earlier in the year, and leave purple trails behind!
Clusters of rowan berries
Pine marten dropping in Glen Tilt

Friday 19 October 2012

High Flying Painted Lady Travels Well

We may not have been seeing many butterflies around Atholl for a good few weeks now but they are still managing to make the press (if not the major headlines). There are several stories in the news today covering the publication of a scientific study that has discovered exactly what happens to Painted Lady butterflies (Vanessa cardui) over the winter.

Painted lady (Vanessa cardui). Image rights: Butterfly Conservation

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Grey Squirrel Alert!

Several grey squirrels have recently been sighted in the area north of Dunkeld, an area which has previously been free of grey squirrels. Information on the movements of invasive grey squirrels is important for the protection of Scotland's native red squirrels. Grey squirrels carry a virus, parapox, which is devastating to populations of red squirrels, while the greys remain relatively unaffected as immune carriers of the virus.

If you have seen a grey squirrel in the area mentioned in the poster below please report it to redsquirrel.project at

Click on the image below for a larger A4  version which you can print out.