Abernyte Nature Watch: August 2021
It has been nice to start getting back to a somewhat more normal lifestyle again, although old habits die hard and we have not often ventured far afield and still spent a great deal of time exploring and walking in our local area. The season has taken on a decidedly late summerish air, even though it is still warm and what you might call “close”.
The wildlife has carried on as normal of course and the swallows that were only just arriving at the last newsletter are now making movements towards the reedbeds where they often gather and roost before heading southwards for the winter. As many people have commented, there seem to be very few of them this year. Some of them will continue to raise broods into September though, so we are not declaring the end of the summer season yet.
Barry has been doing his usual nest-box checking around the area and found a great many broods of dead Blue Tits in May. This has been a general theme around the UK although at least some broods have been successful. The reason is said to be that the wet weather washed caterpillars off the trees making it hard for Tits to find food for their young.
Other birds seem to have fared better including the Blackbirds, Tree Sparrows and Chaffinches which all seem to have had a good breeding season. There are plenty of juveniles of those species around. Some of the young blackbirds that hatched in Jessie’s garden came up the road to see us afterwards! We know that because they were ringed in the nest. Steph and Mike, and Danielle and Henry, both found ringed birds in their gardens and Barry was very glad to get the ring numbers from them.
One Siskin ringed in Abernyte in January 2019 turned up in Banchory this May. The inhabitants of Abernyte get everywhere!
Tim at East Newton was finding Yellowhammer nests in May but concerned by the lack of hedgehogs – very few seen this year - and he also heard a cuckoo by Rait. The Swifts were nesting at Rait Antique Centre again - we saw a flypast of at least 12 several times whilst having a delightful al-fresco lunch at the Tufted Duck.
And now some entomological observations. Ruth and John at North Pitkindie spotted a Woodwasp Uroceras Gigas in their garden, this is the host of the Sabre Wasp, a large parasitic wasp which parasitized the Wood Wasp. They seek out the holes in wood where the Wood Wasp has its larvae. They then use their very long ovipositor to lay their own eggs.
It has been exciting to follow the spread of the Speckled Wood butterfly along the Carse. It first appeared last year, but this year several people at Kinnaird have been happy to see it in their gardens. It has also been spotted at several places along the Carse & Sidlaws including Kinnoul Hill near Perth.
Barry and Cathy continued to survey for the Northern Brown Argus butterfly which lays its eggs on Rock-rose. Conserving this butterfly not only helps the butterfly, it highlights the importance of the flower rich areas where it lives, which also support lots of other species.
A lot of folk have noticed a lack of butterflies over the last couple of months. The cold wet May brought a rather sudden end to the early butterflies. Then there was the usual gap whilst some of the butterflies are feeding up in the caterpillar stage. However this week we had the Large White, Green-veined White and Peacock butterflies around on the Buddleia so that this is the start of a new generation appearing.
Some of the Peacocks have been emerging from caterpillars on nettles in Norma and Gordon’s garden. Diana saw Peacock butterflies on her Buddleia at the same time.
At Flawcraig, some Small Tortoiseshell butterflies are apparently already hibernating in a shed. Many of the new generation of butterflies just feed up for a short time and then go into hibernation where they will stay until next Spring. A very long sleep!
Some larger wildlife has been seen. This included a Pine Marten near Millhill and other possible sightings near Rossie and Fingask. It is hopeful that new mammals can be colonizing our area and making our lives and the local fauna that much richer. Pine Martens are delightful animals but make sure that your livestock is well protected to avoid problems. Roe Deer have also been seen increasingly around the village, even in the middle of the day.