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Wildlife Blog Aug 2017

Ragwort botanical drawing

Sunday August 27th 2017

An early morning with no wind and no rain, so an enjoyable time to wander round the hill, albeit the ground was wet from overnight dew and recent rain, and there was total cloud cover.   It is all looking slightly bedraggled and very green – brambles, ground elder, nettles and the foliage of Rosebay willowherb – with only the bright yellow flowers of Ragwort, the red berries on the Rowan trees and the purple flowers of the Willowherb itself providing any other splashes of colour.

Autumn is not a time with a lot of obvious activity on the hill, at least from the hill’s bird population as individuals undergo their annual feather moult and there is little, if any territorial display or singing.   Our summer visitors are thinking of leaving, and migration is well underway along the estuaries and coasts, so this is the season when odd rarities can turn up anywhere including, for example a Quail which spent a few days in a barley field between Dunblane and Doune earlier this month.

At night Tawny Owls are again beginning to call, but on the hill there was virtually no song at all to be heard.   Some 40 or so Rooks however were back in the trees up at the colony, many of them bringing twigs to ‘rebuild’ summer nests, not that these will be used this season.   This behaviour just reflects a reaction to the changing Autumn day length (roughly now equivalent to the Spring day length) when hormone levels rise in the Rooks stimulating a brief bout of ‘nesting’ behaviour.   Other species were far more occupied feeding and preparing for winter.

The most vocal birds were several family parties of Great tits, which have clearly had a good breeding season, given their numbers.   The loud call of a Jay was easily recognisable, though this is an unusual record for the hill, but not too unexpected as Jays wander wide across the countryside at this time of year, looking for nuts and other food.   Rabbits and Grey Squirrels were also feeding actively, but there was no sign of any of the Roe deer this visit.

Click here to see the bird report for August 2017.   Links to all Chris’ blogs, and a note about his survey method, can be found here.

Chris Spray

Image: Wikipedia.   Carl Axel Magnus Lindman – Bilder ur Nordens Flora no. 20.   Public Domain.

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