Tuesday, 9 June 2015

A bit of a Wildlife weekend

On Friday night we wrapped up and headed off to a local estate where David is working with the ranger there to develop a programme of walks for people who are keen to learn about and see bats. This is the third meeting and having gone to the first, I tagged along on this one to see how it was going. Though a bit cold, it was no where near as cold as the previous meeting a month earlier when there were very few bats out and about. Friday night was much better on the bat count which was great for the people on the walk. After a coffee and intro talk by David and Cathy we walked past the ruined Penicuik House and down to the river, armed with bat monitoring equipment and torches. 

Sadly burnt down in the late 1800's, the shell of this lovely building was made safe a few years ago
and it is now possible to go inside and walk around

Looking back to Penicuik House from the avenue

Once down at the river there was plenty wild flowers for me to photograph, though it was getting a bit dark. I managed to get a few photos of Eupatorium cannabinum which was growing in large patches along the river bank. People split up in to small groups with monitors, some stayed along the river bank watching for Daubentons bats which like to skim over the water scooping up insects to eat. The rest of us went further on following the path along the river watching for what ever else was out. These were mainly Common and Soprano Pipistrelles, and later when David assessed the results on the monitors, a Brown long eared bat. In the end there were five species recorded, so a good result and everyone saw plenty bats flying above them feeding. 

Eupatorium cannabinum

Eupatorium cannabinum close up

We also saw newts in a puddle in the track

Low Pond on the estate just before midnight

After about 45 minutes we returned back along the way we had come, picking up the two groups who had stayed at the river, we all walked along to Low Pond on the estate where we saw a Daubentons bat feeding just above the water. There was still a good bit of light in the sky considering it was just before midnight at this point. On the walk back to the house we also recorded a Natterers bat flying backwards and forwards along a tree line. Once back at the ranger's office we sorted out the equipment before heading home.

Hungry mouths wanting fed

On Saturday we headed to the nursery to do more work. The weather wasn't too good, wet and windy showers blowing through with odd glimpses of blue sky. David carried on stripping pallets and building tables and I started tidying and assessing stock plants. All day I could hear tiny tweety as only baby birds do and I finally tracked them down to a nest on a crate at the far end of the bench. Four tiny mouths waiting to be filled, it will be interesting to see what kind of bird they are. 

Feed us now

We were up bright and early on Sunday, ok maybe not so bright and off to Roslin Glen just south of Edinburgh to collect some mammal traps for the Lothian and Borders mammal group. Several times through the year they do a mammal trapping session using humane traps with food and bedding in them to survey how small mammal populations are doing, usually voles and mice. Over the years this has allowed a good picture of population counts to be built up. On the Saturday  morning the traps are checked, occupants recorded and re released and then again on the Sunday morning when the traps are collected in. It was good to go along and see what happens and I got to take some wood mice out of traps and handle them before letting them go on their way. 

There was plenty Ajuga growing in the woodland on the way to the trapping area

One of two bank voles in the traps

This cheeky wood mouse ran around the tree he was put on once released from the trap

Wood mouse looking cute

There was also lots of wild garlic growing in amongst ferns and the Ajuga

Wild Garlic in the woods

After we finished up with the traps, we took them back to The Wildlife Information Centre and then went to B&Q for bits and pieces for the nursery tables and then for a look around Drum Antiques Centre. Quite a few nice things that would suit several projects I have in mind. We then headed home for lunch before cutting the grass and then I hoed and weeded the front beds. So all in all it ended up being a busy, good and very nature orientated weekend and very interesting too. I hope you all had a great weekend too.

I found this nest lying under one of the big conifers at the side of the drive, its perfectly round and made of sheep
wool and lichens, perfect nature and recycling


  1. What a beautiful little nest, a work of art! I love the mouse photos too - so sweet!
    Cathy x

  2. Hi Cathy, thanks, the nest was amazingly small and perfect :)