Monday, 24 July 2017

Wildlife at the Long Nanny tern site

As the breeding season draws to a close, Ptolemy, McKinnon one of the assistant rangers at the Long Nanny tern site reflects on some of the wildlife highlights of the season.

 As well as terns and plovers, the site attracts an array of other wildlife. I have been lucky enough to see Arctic skua, curlew sandpiper and white-winged black tern on site. Stonechat and reed bunting are resident, adding to the variety of bird species seen here. The terns have been disturbed by the usual suspects such as kestrel and gulls, but three disturbances stand out: little egret, great white egret and short eared owl. Once discovering the cause, watching the Arctic terns chase the innocent bird flying by has left me and the other rangers stunned.
©Ptolemy McKinnon

Botanically, the area is fantastic. On site, pyramidal orchids are currently in flower. They are beautiful plants and add to the wide spectrum of colour summer brings. The salt marsh has provided lovely pink tones with thrift growing there. Bird foot's trefoil, red clover and bloody cranesbill also add to the wonder of the site. Many offer food for insects. Narrow bordered 5-spot and 6-spot burnet moths feed on the ragwort and common blue butterfly on the bird's foot trefoil.
Five-spot burnet moth on a pyramidal orchid ©Ptolemy McKinnon
On sunny days when topping up the sun cream, common lizards can be seen sun bathing along with plenty of insects. Some of the highlights include cinnabar moths, red-tailed bumblebee, drinker moth caterpillars and heather shieldbugs. Even at night, there are interesting insects. Recently, a moth trap on site attracted a fantastic selection despite it being a clear, cold night. The highlights were golden spangle, garden tiger, single-dotted wave and drinker, all great to see, even with bleary eyes.

Drinker moth from moth trapping ©Ptolemy McKinnon

When wanting time away from the site or in particular to get a shower, the walk to the office through Newton Links has produced some great spectacles. There are many common bird species such as linnet and sedge warbler which are a joy to listen to on the way. I have also seen species which I did not see growing up in Perthshire such as wall butterfly and yellow wagtail. The most amazing sight was one warm day earlier this month, as I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a hummingbird hawkmoth hovering around white campion. This was the first time I had ever seen one and this sighting plus the others mentioned has added to the magic of the area.
wall butterfly at Newton Point ©Ptolemy McKinnon

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