Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Butterfly update...

Part of my job as seasonal ranger is to monitor butterflies on the reserve. This is done by carrying out weekly transects. This involves walking a set route around the reserve covering many different habitat types and counting the number of different species encountered. Transects can only be carried out when strict criteria such as minimum temperature and wind speed are met.
Carrying out butterfly transects allow us to monitor butterflies on a local level as well as to contribute nationally. At the end of the year our records are submitted to Butterfly Conservation and though them our records feed into a larger dataset helping to build up a picture of how species are doing nationally. Analyzing the data allows us to see things such as population declines, increases and distribution trends within individual species.

So far this year’s records are indicating that it has generally been a quiet start for many species on the reserve. Cold and wet weather is thought to be the reason for this.

To find out how this year’s weather has affected butterflies nationally visit the Butterfly Conservation website and read this great article.

Fingers crossed that the weather will be nice for our Moth and Butterfly morning on Sunday the 1st July... further information below.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Rumblings in the jungle?

Folk walking along the coast path will have spotted some strange goings on in the undergrowth at Starney Bay yesterday.  In fact, it was so strange that I ended up having shouted conversations with several people explaining what was going on.

Well, what WAS going on, I hear you ask?  Volunteers Ernie, Dave and myself were carrying out a little bracken control.  Being a conservation organisation we don't like to use chemical control where we can avoid it, so we were bashing the bracken using bamboo canes.  Now, this is not just a strange method we have come up with, it is tried and tested.  The idea is to damage the bracken as much as possible so that it has to expend a lot of energy healing rather than growing.  We will aim to bash it twice a year, and after three years it should be gone.  Its the same principle as using a tractor towed roller, or using cattle to trample the bracken.  But, of course, neither of these two methods are going to work on the 45 degree slopes above Starney!

I must admit, it must have looked really rather comical to passers by - like people talking out their aggression on the undergrowth with their walking sticks in a Fawlty Towers kind of way.  Ah well, a double whammy then, conservation work and entertainment all rolled into one!

Here's a couple of photos of Dave (top) and Ernie (bottom) to literally put you in the picture!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Stepping up to the mark...

This week saw the completion of a new flight of steps up the Mire Dam.  Regular visitors will know that it has always been a little tricky negotiating the spillway and then scrambling up the dam itself via some small stone steps.  Hopefully the new steps and the wee bridge over the spillway will make life much easier.  They both look very new and straight and perhaps a little out of place at the moment, but give Mother Nature time and she will soon help them blend in.  We have also replaced the stile at the top, and intend to put in a dog gate too in the future just to finish the whole area off. 

This work is the start of a larger project to improve the access to the Reserve.  Later in the year, when there are less folk about, we will be upgrading the car park and carrying out work on the coast path around Starney Bay.  This work is 50% funded by Scottish Natural Heritage with the other half being covered by the Trust.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Upcoming events...

We are running two new events this summer;

Firstly ‘Jumping Jumplings’ on Saturday 16th June, 8:30-10:00pm.
Every year when Guillemot chicks reach around three weeks old they take a dramatic plunge from their rocky shelf into the ocean below. Join us to watch as the flightless Guillemot chicks try their best to evade the hungry Herring gulls and reach the safety of the sea. The event is at the height of the season so the cliffs will be packed with birds nesting and feeding young. We ‘may’ also be able to pick out one or two Puffins. A car share from the nature reserve car park to the lighthouse will ensure that this event is accessible to all.
Meet at St Abb’s Head Nature Reserve car park (NT 913 674) at 8.30 pm on Saturday the 16th June to car share to the lighthouse. Bring binoculars if you have them, and come suitably clad and shod.

The second event is a ‘Moth and Butterfly morning’ on Sunday 1st July 9:30-11:30am.
We will be discovering the variety of moths at St Abb’s as we open up our live traps (set the previous night). This is an excellent opportunity to see moths close up and in daylight. After opening the traps we will take a leisurely walk around the Mire loch looking out for butterflies, day flying moths and other wildlife. Target species include Small Copper, Common Blue, Dark Green Fritillary and Northern Brown Argus. Experts will be on hand to help you identify.

Meet at St Abb’s Head Nature Reserve car park (NT 913 674) at 9:30am on Sunday the 1st July. Bring binoculars if you have them, and come suitably clad and shod.

Both events are priced at Adults £3, Children (16 and under) £2, Family (2Ad 2Ch) £10. Please note that children must be accompanied, at least one adult to four children.
For further information contact St Abb’s Head Rangers Office on 018970 71443