Bat and Moth Night!

The reserve is home to a great deal of insect life that can be seen during both the day and the night. From bees buzzing from flower to flower, butterflies fluttering over the meadow and literally hundreds of different species of moth flying around the woodland. All this insect life is perfect for the bats living on the reserve and provide a ready food source for them to hunt each night.

Moth trapping can find lots of different moth species, such as this beautiful poplar hawkmoth © Amy Lewis

Moth trapping can find lots of different moth species, such as this beautiful poplar hawkmoth © Amy Lewis

On Saturday 2nd August we have an exciting evening event scheduled at Corra Castle, looking at different species of moth and the bats that live in and around the reserve. Using moth trapping we will examine the different moths that can be found and learn more about their behaviors and lifestyle, as well as taking a guided walk to find some of the bat species that can be spotted on the reserve including pipistrelles among the trees and daubenton’s bats flying from their roosts in the chambers of Corra Castle to hunt over the river!

This event will begin at 8.30pm until 10.30pm, meeting at West lodge on the Corehouse side of the reserve. From there we shall walk you to the old court yard beside the castle where all the activities of the evening shall take place. To book places on this event please call our Falls of Clyde office on 01555 665 262. Booking is essential.

Hope to see you there!

Alex Kekewich – Falls of Clyde Seasonal Ranger

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Whispering bats

In a couple of weeks we are having a bat and moth evening at Corra Castle. It’s going to be really great, we will have a moth trap set up and a local expert will be joining us. We’re also going to take a walk down to the river to watch and learn about the daubentons bats that feed there. The reserve is perfect for bats because of all the roosting opportunities, including the castle.

Brown long-eared bat (c) Laura Preston

Brown long-eared bat (c) Laura Preston

One species that is found in Scotland but is rarely seen (or heard on a bat detector) is the brown long-eared. As you can see from the photograph they truly do have long ears. They are also very cute; when they are sleeping their ears are all scrunched up but when they wake up their ears grow really big! Now, these guys are known as ‘whispering bats’ because they echolocate really quietly. This echolocation only reaches about 3-5m from the bat so you have to be really close to them to pick up their sound. The amazing thing about their echolocation is that they sound exactly like a Geiger counter.

They don’t need to echolocate loudly because they fly really close to shrubs and trees; gleaning moths and larger insects off leaves and bark. Their broad wings and tail allow for great manoeuvrability and they can even hover. They will often have a perch which they will come back to after catching their prey. They will eat the meaty bodies of the insect and discard the inedible wings. If you ever see a small pile of insect wings on the ground then you know it might be a perch for this bat. What would be even more amazing to do would be to go back later on and try and see the bat itself!

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger

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Damselflies and Butterflies

Over the past few weeks I have seen plenty of large red and azure damselflies zooming over the surface of the ponds on the reserve. These brightly coloured insects are superb arial hunters and can be seen hunting for prey over the water and you may spot the males defending their territory from intruding competitors or you may even see a pair of damselflies locked together on a lilly pad as the male grasps the females thorax with his long tail during mating.

A large red damselfly resting on a waterlily at our tree nursery pond © Alex Kekewich

A large red damselfly resting on a waterlily at our tree nursery pond © Alex Kekewich

Below the surface damselfly nymphs will hunt the other freshwater inhabitants such as tadpoles. There have also been a few great diving beetle larvae spotted. Strange alien looking invertebrates with fear pincer like jaws that inject their prey before they eat them! If you are visiting the reserve make sure you stop by the tree nursery to have a look at the pond there. As Laura mentioned last week the ermine moth caterpillars that were coating trees along the footpaths in their webs are now starting to emerge from their cocoons and lots of the small white moths can be seen throughout the reserve.

More wildflower species are also out, soaking up the summer sun, with species such as ragged robin, ox eye daisy and common spotted orchid out near the road and power station. Keep an eye out for them as you walk along the footpaths. Elsewhere on the reserve more butterfly species have been emerging in large numbers. The latest species to have been seen include meadow browns, ringlets and even a fritillary, which has yet to be identified! Hopefully it will be spotted again soon so we can get a better look at it, watch this space!

Bye for now!

Alex Kekewich – Falls of Clyde Seasonal Ranger

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Did you know there are 24 species of bumblebee in the UK?

Did you know that there are around 250 species of bee in the UK! They are split into three groups: bumblebees, honeybees and solitary bees. The humble bumblebee is usually larger and is always covered in dense hair. There are 24 species of bumblebee so if you are interested in learning more about insects, these guys would be a nice place to start.

White-tailed bumblebee male (c) Penny Frith

White-tailed bumblebee male (c) Penny Frith

They live in nests which can be above or below ground. You might have them nesting in your garden; under your shed or in a compost heap. If you see swarms of them flying around outside their nest – don’t be alarmed these will be the males waiting for females to come out so that they can mate. Male bumblebees don’t sting so you are perfectly safe. A well established nest can contain up to 400 bees which is tiny in comparison to honeybees which can have a hive up to 50,000.

At this time of year the nest will have produced their first brood of offspring. These will all be ‘worker’ females. These diligent, hardworking little bees will carry out maintenance work and be on guard duty. Their job is to look after the queen and the nest in preparation for the second brood that will hatch out in late summer. This brood will consist of new queens and also males for reproduction. The males are pretty lazy, bumbling about, and they don’t normally return back to their nest. Their function in life is feeding and attempting to mate. Most of them never do!

If you would like to find out more about bumblebees I would recommend you visit the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website at bumblebeeconservation.org. There is also a great book written by Dave Goulson (a leading expert in bumblebees) called A Sting in the Tale which was released last year.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger

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Summer Badger Watches

A definite highlight for me this year has been running the badger watches at the Falls of Clyde and spending time sitting quietly near the sett observing the badgers as they emerge onto the surface to scratch and dig and prepare for a night of foraging. The events this year have been very successful and we still have spaces available on our upcoming badger watches this summer! Since moving the watches to a new sett we have been getting fantastic views of these nocturnal mammals so why not come along and be the next to see them! We are organising badger watching events until the end of August and have three types of badger watching experiences available:

Badgers have been seen regularly during our badger watching events © Elliot Smith

Badgers have been seen regularly during our badger watching events © Elliot Smith

Normal badger watches take place on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month starting at 7.30pm and including a guided walk through the reserve lead by one of our ranger team up to the view point near the sett.

Family badger watches are perfect for families with children of 5 years or older but are open to other visitors to attend. These take place on the second and fourth Saturday of the month and are perfect for children to learn about the badgers and other wildlife of the reserve as they follow the badger trail up to the sett.

Luxury badger watches for up to 4 people, including a bit of pampering and a drive up through the reserve to within 5 minutes of the sett. This can also be combined with a stay in the New Lanark hotel for two nights, which can by booked through the hotel.

We only have spaces for 12 people on the badger watches and family watches so it would be worth booking as soon as possible.

Hope to see you on one of our events soon!

Alex Kekewich – Falls of Clyde Seasonal Ranger

 

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