Sunday June 18th 2017
It was very warm, but with total cloud cover and even threatening to rain when I started out at 7am: however it it stayed dry and with no wind, and proved a pleasant morning’s stroll round the hill.
Undoubtedly, the stars of the day were the Jackdaws – everywhere I looked there were families of young Jackdaws, the young ones chasing their parents through the upper branches of the trees and begging for food. A gathering of some 30-40 were also on the ground in the centre of the Braeport meadow, the adults in each family group working hard finding food in amongst the grasses to satisfy their brood’s demands! The rooks, by comparison have virtually all left the colony now, so it was left to the Jackdaws to provide the sights and sounds of the morning. Indeed, the group on the Braeport meadow were being watched by a very fine buck Roe deer, its coat now a rich russet colour, as also that of a nearby doe which was also watching the Jackdaws’ antics while feeding herself.
Elsewhere, a Sparrowhawk passed over, causing momentary panic amongst the Jackdaws, and there are broods of young Blue tits, Coal tits and others to be seen lurking in the undergrowth. The delicate white flowers of Pignut are coming to an end, but this is a lovely small plant typical of open woodland and ungrazed dry grassland. As its name suggests its roots and tuber underground, the buried ‘nut’ at the base of the plant, was once dug up by pigs to eat. And although we have no pigs on the hill, the plant has its own small dark moth, the Chimney Sweeper Moth and, as these are day-flying, they are present on the hill at this time of year. Chimney sweepers are sooty black all over (hence their name), except for a very small white fringe at the tips of the forewing.
The white of clumps of Elderflowers is also very noticeable right now, amidst what is otherwise largely a green sea of growing plants, brambles and rosebay willowherb in particular. The beech trees have a huge number of nuts on them at present, so we could have a good mast year.
Image: Wikipedia. John Haslam, Dornoch, “Jackdaw – up close and personal”. CC BY 2.0