Off Canvas

Abernyte Nature Watch

A very strange event occurred in a garden in Abernyte just after the last Inchture newsletter came out. I had written about the possibility of hearing a long-eared owl in Abernyte, but saying that we had never actually heard one. Well, Irene was out in her garden and looking down at the ground just beside her pond when what should she see but a Long-eared owl, freshly dead. And what’s more, it had a ring on its leg.

John and Irene sent the owl off for a post-mortem, and sent in the ring number to the British Trust for Ornithology. The information that it had been ringed near Scone in November of 2017 was speedily obtained. We were lucky to see it, with its very beautiful plumage, often described as being like a Persian carpet. So it certainly is worth looking out for the unexpected. You never know what might turn up, and so it seems that Long-eared owls might be around the Abernyte area more often than you think.

Now for some signs of Spring as posted on Abernyte Naturewatch forum:

A Green Woodpecker was heard calling from Kirkton Hill, on the morning of 11th February. Despite minus 2 degrees that night, it was warm in the sun.

The bees were out in February, Tricia photographed honey bees in her garden, and on 13th February a honeybee was working on the snow drops in the garden at Infield. And then more bees emerged. Barry saw a bumblebee at Flawcraigs on Thursday (14th February) as well as honeybees. Honeybees in our garden - hopefully filling someone’s hive with pollen for their brood - seemed interested in the double Snowdrops, which surprised me, as double flowers are often lacking in pollen and nectar. On examination, the double snowdrops did seem to have stamens and the bees were collecting pollen from them. More species of bumblebees, Tree Bumblebees (first seen in Abernyte last year) and Red-tailed Bumblebees were out in gardens on 31st March.

And some of the more traditional signs of Spring – the migrant birds. Linda at Newton had a returning House Martin on 5th April at 18:21 hours. Great news. Nicholas had also seen Sand Martins at the coast: they are always the first of the hirundines to arrive. Then a real harbinger of Spring: the first Swallow of the spring was seen by Tim at East Newton on evening of 19/4/2019. Despite going to Yorkshire and back, I didn’t manage to see any swallows until 29th April. They have been few and far between in Abernyte to date.

Diana at Hillhouse is always alert and listening to the songs of birds, and heard her first Willow Warbler of 2019 on 18th April. She has also heard the Curlew there, sadly heard less often than in earlier decades, and has seen several Hares about. I was also told that two Chiffchaffs had been singing in the woods at Fingask on the morning of 28th March. Chiff-chaff heard in 
Abernyte, on the Glebe, on Sunday 7th April.

Several members of the congregation saw their first butterfly in Abernyte Church on 24th March 2019 and, as it was a warm day and it was flying around the Church, it was released into the great outdoors. It was a Small Tortoiseshell. There was also a Peacock butterfly in our garden on 28th March.

Several butterflies had been seen much earlier in Kinnaird, during the warm period in February. These included Red Admiral, which seems to have overwintered there – maybe a reflection of the rather warm winter that we had. With the warming climate, it seems that several species, that did not survive here in the past ,are making their way North. In Abernyte we saw our first Orange Tip butterflies of the Spring in our garden on Easter Sunday, 21st April.

Hedgehogs are also out after their winter hibernation. We saw one on the road on the Kinnaird Brae, when returning from Perth about 10 pm on night of 2nd April 2019 and, at the end of April, we spotted some “hoggy” droppings in the garden. These are narrow and very black so easily recognisable and a clue that hedgehogs are about.

There have also been bats, seen flying out since at least the last week in April.

We weren’t the only ones to have had Redpolls in our garden this Spring. So did Johnny and Julie at Kirkton Craig who posted on the 3rd March – “I’m not sure if Kirkton Craig has always attracted lots of our feathery friends or if Julie has just gone a bit crazy with the feeding stations but we have had lots of interesting visitors so far this year.”

Apart from the usual variety of tits in the garden, some of which are now checking out the official, numbered nest boxes, we have a pair of greater spotted woodpeckers. The male has been ringed but the female doesn’t appear to be so. They have both been busy unzipping the bark on the rowan tree where we’ve hung a cone loaded with peanut butter.

There is also a delicate little tree creeper that hops up a variety of trees in the garden and flies back down to the base of the tree only to repeat the process over and over.

On two occasions I’ve seen a grey wagtail on the roof of the house pecking out bugs from between the tiles. I can’t really work out why he/she is here since there is no running water nearby which the grey wagtail is associated with. The only other place I’ve seen these birds is at the fish ladder in Pitlochry.

Yesterday saw a new visitor to the garden feeding station with the arrival of a single redpoll feeding alongside a gaggle of siskins. I think it was female as my bird book says the female doesn’t have a red blush to the chest”.

Thanks to all who have been sending in wildlife sightings or posting them on the website. Don’t forget that you can put on postings by logging in to the Abernyte website and going to the Naturewatch forum.

Have a wild and wonderful Spring!