The Last few weeks:
As spring has been springing the wildlife at Threave has been gathering momentum and the birds have been singing, flowers blooming and species arriving. As ever with the natural world however, things are never predictable and the wildlife never follows the script exactly. The balmy weather towards the end of March was soon forgotten as the April showers and some cool northern and easterly winds dominated April so far. So far May has not been a whole lot better but that all makes for an interesting year of unpredictable wildlife.
The male Osprey (ringed: Black 80) arrived back on the 28th March and quickly got to work cleaning and adding to the nest. On the evening of the 4th April the arrival of a female osprey at the nest got everyone excited. However, the female that landed appears to have been just a passing bird as they were seen together the next morning but after that the male remained alone on the nest. That was until, on the 11th May there was a sighting of a female osprey on the nest with the male. Many more sightings came in over that weekend, and at one point there was even three ospreys sighted around the nest! So far we have not been able to confirm whether or not the female is the same as last year but we have our fingers crossed that we get some chicks this summer.
Along with the ospreys many of our other summer visitors have arrived after their long migrations. The arrival of the birds along with the blossoming of trees and the emergence of flowers, have been a welcoming sign that summer is on its way. Around the reserve and gardens some of the earlier species to arrive were chiffchaff on 22nd March, willow warbler on 8th April, blackcap on 11th April, swallows on 13th April and house martins on 15th April. Down along the river Dee and Blackpark Marsh the sound of grasshopper and sedge warbler now fills the air and swift can be seen in their masterful flight.
Down at Rockcliffe we had a lovely day putting on the ‘Spring has Sprung’ event which included information on a variety of species associated with spring, some invertebrates and amphibians dipped from a local pond, and members of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club who undertook some bird ringing. The ringing was a great way for people to see birds up close and appreciate how handsome and dainty birds are. We had plenty of birds to ring from the more common such as chaffinch and blue tit, to the less common such as redpoll and treecreeper. There have also been some fantastic sightings of stoat, badger and red squirrel. The red squirrel showing signs that she has young as there was skin showing on her front from where she had been suckling her young (kittens). Some of the passage migrants through Rockcliffe have included bar-tailed godwit, sandwich tern and whimbrel. There is currently a fantastic display of bluebells, stitchwort and pink purslane, and with the summer now well and truly on its way we can look forward to also enjoying the lovely wildflower meadows at Rockcliffe.
Around the Threave wetland reserve over the past few weeks we have been lucky enough to have seen barn owl hunting over the fields, snipe drumming over the marsh, red squirrel commuting along the mature hedgerows, roe deer grazing on little wood hill, lapwing displaying in front of stepping stones hide, curlew calling from blackmarsh hide, red kites soaring above castle island, kingfisher darting along the Dee and reed bunting singing on top of hawthorn along the path to the castle. Around the gardens there has been nuthatch nesting, swallows swooping around the countryside centre, a heron nesting along the drive, an impressive rookery alive with noise and bats that appear to be stationary above the ponds (our new bat sculptures). A quick trip to the Kelton Hill Woods hide to fill the bird feeders rewarded me with red squirrel, roe deer, greater spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, robin and willow warbler. All this in just 3 minutes.
This is just a small insight into the wildlife which has been seen since the start of spring so keep checking back for updates on how they all get on over the rest of the year.