Tuesday, 25 March 2008

New Arrivals

The migrants from abroad have not yet arrived on the reserve, but there are several reports of them arriving in the south of England now, so it shouldn't be more than a week or two till they are here.
We have, however had some new bird species arrive on the reserve in the past week or so. There has been a pair of Bullfinches on the reserve, which I've seen a couple of times. I've also had sightings of Pied Wagtail. The most interesting addition was the arrival of a Little Grebe to the reserve today. They have been reported as breeding on the reserve for quite a few years, but did not appear to be last year. Hopefully this new arrival will be followed by a partner and we'll get a successful breeding year for them!
Although in saying that, the pair of Mute Swans have now returned to the loch, so once they become territorial, they may scare off some of the smaller birds that might nest on the loch. I guess time will tell on that front.
Some of you may have already noticed that there is a mound of clay and rubble on the reserve at the car park right now. I know it isn't the prettiest sight in the world, but it shouldn't be there for all that long and hopefully it will be put to good use by SWT, either at Cullaloe or on the other reserves in the area. Cullaloe was chosen as the place to store this as it has what is probably the best access for large vehicles of all the reserves in the area.
In an additional note, i saw a mammal species today which i have not seen on the reserve before. There was a Stoat roaming around the car park this morning, which was really good to see!

Friday, 14 March 2008

Showing signs of spring

I'm away for the weekend, and i suspect as a result i'll miss some interesting arrivals to the reserve.
I went down today and the daffodils have started to bloom. I also saw my first red-tailed Bumblebee of the year. A sure sign that Spring is edging ever closer! I suspect it won't be long now till we hear the familiar 'chiff chaff, chiff chaff' of the first warbler arrivals to the reserve.
Our male mute swan has returned to the reserve as well. Here's hoping he's soon joined by a female and we get another successful year.
The most interesting sighting today was just as i was about to get into the car and drive off. I heard a very loud croaking noise and when i looked up, there was the familiar diamond tail of a Raven! They're not particularly common in this area, so it was good to see. I only saw ravens once last year at Cullaloe, so if i see it again, i'll have improved on the record!Anyway, i'm now off on a trip to Ayr for the weekend for College. If anyone is planning on visiting the reserve this weekend, please feel free to let me know what i miss!
On that note, if you see something that isn't on the species list, I'd be grateful if you could let me know so i can add it to the list.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

The Flying Flock

The weather has been pretty awful the past few days, so I've not had much chance to get to the reserve. Last time i was there was on Thursday, which was simply a quite trip to top up the seed feeders.
Mind you, i did get my first Sparrowhawk sighting of the year then, so I'm certainly not complaining! The Species list continues to grow. I don't think it will be too long now till we start seeing and hearing the first arrivals of the spring and summer migrants.

Since i haven't been on the reserve much and can't update you on what is happening just now, i figured I'd use the opportunity to explain what the flying flock is and why they are on the reserve.
I mentioned in my last post that some sheep have arrived from the flying flock and are grazing one of the meadows on the reserve. The flying flock is SWTs own flock of sheep. They travel around various sites both in Fife and in other predominantly lowland areas. I think in total the SWT have over 300 sheep now, although only 25 of these are currently resident at Cullaloe.
The purpose of the flying flock is to provide practical management for some reserves in the form of grazing. By regularly grazing certain areas, they can actually help preserve the variety of plant species in the area. They can help prevent areas from becoming overgrown and dominated by particularly invasive species.
Currently at Cullaloe, they only graze one meadow, but there are plans to have them start grazing a second meadow on the reserve. We don't have them at Cullaloe all year round. That would result in the meadows being over grazed and little growing there. It is done at specific times of the year to preserve plant species.

So there you have it. I probably could have written for hours about the flying flock, but i figured it would be best to give just a small indication of why they were there.

Hopefully the weather will improve so that i can give a good report of things happening on the reserve next time!