Taynish: gold dust!

By Caroline Anderson

This blog covers two visits to Taynish over the course of a week.  The first visit was filled with delight as there was a nice selection of damselflies out, and one or two four-spotted chasers.  I was thrilled, as it had been SO cold this May!

Only a handful of butterflies around but managed to capture this Speckled Wood.   After a holiday weekend of hot weather there should be more butterflies for you to spot – lots of Orange Tips and Small Heaths – these are indeed very small but what they lack in stature they make up for in beauty.  You can get an idea of scale from this dandelion clock. 

One interesting discovery I made as I was rummaging about in the bog at the boardwalk, was this Longhorn Moth – I’ve only ever seen one before and it was during the previous week.   It’s a beautiful gold colour with the most extraordinary antennae.

The bluebells are stunning at the moment, and the air is heavy with their scent.  They are also a great attraction for the pollinator insects – though sometimes you just have to look quite hard for them. This is a scorpion fly making the most of the bluebell cover.

Unfortunately, there was a distinct lack of bees during both visits, I think everything is just a bit later in getting going this year because of the recent low temperatures.   But finally on the pink next to the shore there were one or two getting covered in the gold stuff.  

There was also this wee guy making the most of the pollen – absolutely lathered in it! 

Talking of the gold stuff – check this out!  There’s lots of this type of grass in flower just now – and if you give it a shake you can see the pollen flying out – no wonder my nose is running! 

However, despite the lack of bees during my visits, there is hope, thanks to Heather and Gordon!  

Heather and Gordon, who keep Taynish so special for us all, made some bee houses for our Taynish Trail, and these are now being occupied. If you are considering a bee house, please follow this guidance to assure bees’ health.

The red mason solitary bees pictured below were busily going in and out of the hotel and were an absolute joy to watch.  The holes the bees have been using have been marked to make observation less tricky (that’s what the black dots are next to some of the holes) this also makes photographing them much easier too! 

It’s Garden for Wildlife Week so why not give our pollinators a wee helping hand. Good luck and tag @scotpollinators know how you get on by posting pictures on twitter.

All packed up for winter

“I’ll be back”.  It’s one of the most famous and most menacing lines in movie history.  Now, we can’t compare the return of the Terminator to the return of our pollinator trails, but the phrase is fairly appropriate.  This after all is the time of year when we pack up the signs and store them over winter, but come early next spring we dust them down and bring them out again. 

Staff at our reserves have been telling us how popular the information panels we produced for our pollinator trails have been.  Many, many visitors have lingered to take in the information on offer, and there is reason to suspect that it is the more ‘surprising’ panels that provoke most interest.  This was certainly the case of St Cyrus NNR where one of the most popular signs talked about wasps and how beneficial they can be. Busting that myth that wasps are ‘bad guys’ seemed to go down well.

NNR Pollinator Trial signs all included - 29 03 2019 (A2905974) - Copy

So where are our five trails lest you should be thinking come 2020 “I’m going to visit these”?

 

Top Major South America Commodities

Furthest north at the moment is our Forvie set of panels.  These are on a short trail immediately adjacent to the visitor centre to the north of the reserve. Topics covered included ‘What you can do to help pollinators’, a look at hoverflies, the red-tailed bumblebee, hibernation sites and the value to pollinators from mowing the grass less. The length of bees’ tongues gets an honourable mention too. With a lovely visitor centre to escape should the weather turn and superb sand dunes you would be hard pressed to get a more idyllic spot than Forvie to find out more about pollinators.

Image - Forvie Pollinator Trail 3 - July 2019

Having said that the staff who work at Creag Meagaidh would argue vehemently that their site is even better. With mountains, regenerating woodlands and a mosaic of marvellous habitats their’s is a reserve super-rich in diversity. It is also home to one of our pollinator trails and with a determination to provide hedgerows and wildflower meadows they certainly do their bit for pollinators here.

CreagMeagaidh-D3473_jpg_JPEG Image Original Size_m21193

Signs at Creag Meagaidh introduce information about the value of trees for bees, the role of wild roses and the power of flowers.  It’s a lovely mix of subjects that perfectly complements the amazing views this reserve is famed for. Be it the humble bumblebee or the mighty golden eagle this is a reserve that consistently captivates the visitor.

NNR Pollinator Trial signs all included - 29 03 2019 (A2905974) - Copy_Page_2

Moving to the west coast and Taynish NNR offers up a very different experience.  Here oak woodlands, mosses, lichens, saltmarsh and shoreline jostle for attention. For pollinators the reserve offers a little bit of everything. As Caroline Anderson reported regularly in 2019 (complete with her amazing photographs) this is a reserve that pulls its weight when it comes to pollinator provision.

2019 Taynish Pollinator Trail - August - bee on purple loosestrife DSC_15461

Take a walk from the car park down to the mill and you will see pollinator signs revealing fascinating insights into mining bees, clearings and glades for butterflies and the value of some of our climbers.  It’s a lovely reserve, sweet with the smell of salt air, tranquil and yet very much alive with insect interest.

NNR Pollinator Trial signs all included - 29 03 2019 (A2905974) - Copy_Page_3

The same can be said for Flanders Moss in Stirlingshire. The reserve is a sure fire spot to see lizards, and of late harriers have been catching the eye, but for pollinators it’s a bit of a haven too. The car park adjoins a prolific wildflower meadow, sown by local schoolchildren, and the swathe of willows along the path leading onto the boardwalk over ‘the moss’ are an early season bonus for so many pollinators.

Dave Pickett 2

A revealing insight into little-known buzz pollination is popular with visitors, as is a sign devoted to that firm Scottish favourite – heather.  For many children the lure of the viewing platform is a must, and reserve staff use the area at the foot of this panoramic feast to further engage with visitors through posters and factsheets.

2019 Taynish Pollinator Trail - August - red admiral on knapweed DSC_1856

We have pollinator trails at five fabulous reserves and the final piece in the quintet jigsaw is St Cyrus NNR.  Long before we even thought of a pollinator trail, this reserve had a flowery trail – so trails are nothing new to staff here. But with flowers you get pollinators and so the scene was nicely set to talk about our hard pressed pollinating insects.

Clustered Bellflower, St Cyrus NNR, Grampian area. ©Lorne Gill/SNH

The signs here include many of the signs mentioned at our other four reserves, but the ace up the sleeve of the staff at St Cyrus is their children’s activity quiz. Eagle eyed schoolchildren on a day-trip can win a prize by filling in their quiz sheets based on what they read on the signs here.

With prizes up for grabs we are probably back where we began. For surely nothing entices a visitor to utter that famous line of “I’ll be back” than the prospect of a prize … or maybe it’s the lure of the pollinators.  Either way our NNRs are must visit destinations for wildlife and people. And we have certainly saved a space for pollinators.

Photo - Knitted Bees - image for National Knitting Day - June 2019