Sunday, 9 May 2021

Ballachurry Reserve, Work Party 9th May 2021.

 We usually hold our Work Parties at the Reserve on Saturday mornings but there was a really dire weather forecast for 8th May so we postponed it to Sunday morning. I wondered if this would cut our numbers down, but in fact we had 19 volunteers assemble at 10 o'clock. Would there be enough cake to go round at half time, I wondered? I needn't have worried - there was cake galore! Thanks to all who supplied the refreshments which were much appreciated. 

The task this Sunday morning was to spread more wood chip along the remaining paths  and once more we were very grateful to Chris Preston at for supplying us with this free of charge. It smelt wonderful - clearly a pine tree had been chipped on this occasion.  Some volunteers had been able to bring  additional barrows so this made the task go along all the quicker and the pile had all but gone by 11 o'clock when we broke for refreshments. Really quite amazing! But I wasn't going to let all that (wo)man power disappear so easily, so once we were all suitably rested and revived we spent an hour cutting back along the paths where the vegetation and overhanging branches were causing problems. We also took out some docks which had invaded the meadow near the side of the path. I think recent rain had caused everything to put a spurt on.

father and son team

barrow ready to go

pile diminishing by the minute

off to the gorse boundary with this one

and the compost heap path with this one

and another load on its way later

many barrows make light work

a busy highway

not just wood chip, the vegetation needs trimming too

our hard working Duke of Edinburgh volunteer

our husband and wife team dealing with the latest load

clearly refreshment time - I needed no second bidding

welcome break

our Ballachurry Bake-Off Judges?

cake and conversation

good to be socialising again after weeks of lockdown

smart, improved shutters on the hide made by Peter in his own time.

the log pile growing larger with sticks from the wood chip

doesn't it look neat?

vegetation trimmed back and path finished

the pile has gone and the area will soon green over again

It was a rather cloudy morning, so I didn't notice many insects about. There is a healthy population of earthworms in the meadow though, it would seem. The birdsong was very noticeable and we worked to a  soundtrack of Sedge Warblers, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Chaffinch and the occasional Pheasant. I'm told that 2 Swifts were also seen overhead, which is lovely news.

 A huge thank you to everyone who came along and worked so hard today. You are a great team and the success of the reserve really is down to all your efforts.  Apologies if I didn't manage to say goodbye and thank each of you personally and also if I didn't manage to take your photo this time.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Ballachurry Reserve, 5th May 2021

the hide from the damp meadow

  My first recording visit to the Reserve during the merry, merry month of May! It was a lovely sunny morning but there was a strong North Westerly wind blowing which kept the temperature down and at one point I was glad to sit in the hide to warm up a little. There were baby Moorhen chicks on the pond and a fledgling Blackbird under the willows, so it clearly wasn't winter, even if it felt like it. Here is my report:


SC208694  2 x Buzzard overhead; male and female Blackbirds + fledgling ; 2 Sedge Warbler heard but not seen near reed bed.

 SC209694  2 x Adult Moorhen feeding 3 chicks between them;  Woodpigeon; Whitethroat; Dunnock; Goldfinch; 2 x Shelduck flying over;  Sedge Warbler heard from reed bed but not seen; Mallard drake flew in. Male Chaffinch. Willow Warbler heard but not seen.

SC208695 Robin; Wren;  male Blackcap;  


 SC209694 male Orange-tip butterfly; 

SC208694 male Orange-tip butterfly;

SC210694 Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

SC209694 2 x Gorse Shieldbugs

SC208694 1 unidentified fly on bridge handrail  + Calliphora species

SC210694 both White and Blue Spanish / hybrid bluebells near gate

SC210694 Garlic Mustard in flower ( though had been smothered by dumped poster from Sloc roundabout) 

SC209693 Lawn daisies have quickly pushed back through the wood chip on path

SC209693, SC208694 and elsewhere Lady's Smock ( Cuckoo flower) in full bloom

SC208694 and elsewhere Hemlock Water Dropwort coming into flower

SC209693 lots of honey bees in willow flowers

SC209694 Memorial cherry in flower

SC209694 Sorrel in flower 

SC208694 & SC209694 Apple trees in blossom

SC209695 unidentified bee on dandelion

SC208695 Rowan flowers starting to open.

SC209695  Thyme Leaved Speedwell ( Veronica serpyllifolia) flowering in grass  ( Thanks to Andree Dubbeldam for ID) 

SC208694 Ground Ivy ( Glechoma hederacea) in flower

SC209694 Red Campion ( Silene dioica) in flower

SC209694 Hogweed in flower ( Heracleum sphondylium). Dung Fly on the Hogweed

SC208695 Oak in leaf 

SC209695 Earwig in gorse 

SC209695 7-spot Ladybird

adult Moorhen had 2 demanding chicks to feed

note the little featherless wings which they flutter , begging for food

the chicks are also bald

the one on the left quickly moved in to get its share of the food

the other parent only had one chick to feed

but it was no less demanding

silhouettes of the 2 buzzards overhead  - one appears to be carrying something

they were some distance away from me and appeared like this to the naked eye

I had a nice close view of the Dunnock

it spent some time preening

not far away I spotted a Whitethroat

which was singing from time to time

has it spotted me?

it took me a long time to find the Blackcap which was singing all morning

the Mallard was drinking, notice the water droplets

it flew in while I was watching from the hide

Chaffinch on the gorse boundary

another view of the male Chaffinch

when I returned to the hide later one of the Moorhens....

was enjoying some downtime away from the family!


Ballachurry Reserve isn't just about birds....

Gorse Shieldbug

all part of the food chain - Calliphora species on left and unidentified fly on the bridge handrail

and a bee on a dandelion

an Earwig hidden in the gorse

a rather tattered Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

7-spot Ladybird

apple blossom

cherry blossom on the memorial tree

"Bouquet of Barbed Wire" ?  Revealing my my age here - published 1969!

Red Campion

Lawn daisies unperturbed by the wood chip


oak is out before the ash so we'll only get a splash?

I was trying to photograph the bees in the willow but  they are just too busy to pose!

Rowan nearly in flower

cultivated bluebells by the gate

Ground ivy beneath the willows

Sorrel  flowers in bud

pretty blue flowers in the grass - Thyme Leaved Speedwell

Cuckoo flower is Orange Tip Caterpillar food plant

as is Garlic Mustard ( Green Veined Whites too)

Hemlock Water Dropwort  will soon be covered in moth caterpillars

Marsh Marigolds and Cuckoo flowers together in the damp meadow


And a few views to end with

through the hide shutters

view from hide looking left

view from hide looking right

testimony to recent drought

clouding over - time to go

a last look back towards the hide before leaving

please click on photos to enlarge them