Abernyte Naturewatch to November 2011
A rather brief wildlife report this time – after a hopeful start in April and the return of swallows on the 22nd April we looked forward to hear reports of cuckoos but were to be disappointed. Please let us know if you did hear one around, because it would be sad to think a whole season has passed without any being heard. Usually we are told that it has been up at Pitkindie or Glenbran.
We were lucky to have good weather for the wildlife event that took place at Abernyte Church on 5th & 6th August. It was well attended despite it being the day of the Perth Agricultural Show! On that occasion a twilight Bat Walk between the church and the Glebe was enjoyed by quite a few folk who were delighted to hear two different types of Pipistrelle Bats. A moth trap was set on the Glebe. When it was investigated on the Saturday morning we had caught a lot of Large Yellow Underwings along with 17 other species of moths (they were released later). Local entomologists Stuart Gordon, Trefor Woodford and David Lampard were on hand on Saturday morning to help identify bumblebees, moths and all manner of other 6 legged beasts. Some of the children enjoyed surveying wildflowers and made willow butterflies with Alex Hogg from Butterfly Conservation Scotland.
The wet summer weather was good weather for toads and newts. A lot of toads were seen on roads, particularly in the late summer as in previous years. Does anyone know where these spawn- or where they spend the winter come to that? A few Newts were also seen by John and Irene disporting themselves in their pond and on the patio (we think it was the newts Irene disporting themselves in their pond and on the patio (we think it was the newts disporting themselves not John and Irene!). It seems most likely that they are smooth newts although this isn’t certain because palmatae newts are very similar. Barry checked the pH of the pond which was <6.5. This didn’t help much because the palmate newt is more likely to be seen in moorland areas in acid water while the smooth newt is more often seen in garden ponds and from pH 6 to alkaline. However there is an overlap between them. If any more turn up then the way to work out which kind you have is to record the colour and pattern of the underside of the throat, preferably photographically, before they escape!
Returning migrant geese were seen and heard going over Abernyte on 30th September, much later than usual, probably owing to the relatively mild weather and prevailing winds. Once the winds became north-easterly they began to arrive with us. One of the good things about driving to work in the autumn has been seeing large flocks of Pink-footed Geese going up off the Tay each morning. Whilst driving towards Perth on the morning of Saturday 15th October we also saw several much larger skeins of them heading over the Carse - I would guess 3 to 4000 would be a conservative estimate. Flocks of Fieldfares got here earlier, arriving about 18th September. We were also encouraged to discover that Barn Owls are still around in the area and have been seen near Abernyte over the summer and in the last month or so.
Other wildlife events in the area – Trefor caught a Lilac Beauty which is a rather attractive moth not often found in this part of Scotland. Red Admiral butterflies were still around the village in November. Rather strangely a Small White butterfly appeared in our kitchen on 13th November. This was a long time after we would have expected it to have pupated. We suspect perhaps that it had been brought into the house somehow and then decided to hatch out in the warmth.
It remains to see what winter will bring. On looking up dates from last year we found that the first snow of the hard winter of 2010 was on 25th November last year, and the first frost was on 20th October 2010. This year we had 0C on 6th November 2011.