Posted by: llendorin | August 7, 2011

Cancellation of Guided Walk

Unfortunately, due to the heavy rains experienced over the last 18hrs or so, the decision has been taken to cancel the guided walk scheduled for 2pm until 4pm today.  We apologise for any convenience caused by this late cancellation.


Janie and Grahame

Posted by: 4getmenotflower | November 9, 2010

No Access to Car Park – 9 and 10 november 2010

Regular visitors to the Reserve may have noticed that there are some drainage issues on the right hand bend that leads from the access road to the car park.  We are delighted to blog that this area is being addressed on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th November!  Unfortunately as there will be heavy plant and machinery involved, we have had to close the access to the car park for the full 2 days that the works are ongoing.

It is hoped that this wee bit of inconvenience will result in many years of flood-free visiting experiences in the future, so we hope you will bear with us until completion 🙂

Thank you 🙂

Posted by: 4getmenotflower | August 31, 2010

Wet and Slappy? We’re going Batty!

Hey blog-watchers!

I thought I’d give you a quick update on the most recent event held at Cullaloe – the Bat Walk!  This took place on Saturday night, which as you may remember was quite windy and a bit cold.  However, that didn’t stop 12 people braving the elements to come out and see who or what might be lurking in the shadows near the loch!

The event began with a bit of background about the types of bats that can be found in Fife, of which there are 5 main species.  These are the Common Pipistrelle, the Soprano Pipistrelle, the Brown Long-Eared Bat, the Daubentons Bat and the Natterers Bat (although the best place to see this last one is the Ice House at Tentsmuir.  I also brought along fabric silouhettes of the largest (Kalong – also called the flying fox) and smallest (Bumblebee) bats in the world!  The difference is massive, given that the Kalong has a near 2m wing-span, as opposed to the 15cm wing-span of the Bumblebee bat!

Once everyone had a bit of background knowledge tucked away, we started towards the screen area – which is where Grahame and I have regularly found bats in the past.  Along the way we discussed the various types of roosts the different types of bats use and the ways they hunt and catch their prey.  I am embarrassed to say that there was one mildly “whoopsie” moment, when I mistakenly told everyone that bats were not mammals and had more in common with humans than mammals!  I had meant to say bats were not RODENTS!!  Luckily, Grahame immediately picked me up on it, and I got it straighted out! 😉

When we reached the screen, everyone who had them set their detectors to 50khz, which is a good starting point for hearing the both Pipistrelle species and Daubentons bats, all of which have been found at Cullaloe in the past.  A soprano pip was quickly picked up and the visitors had their first taste of batty sound!  I should just say that both types of pip can be picked up at 50khz – although the common pip uses a frequenzy of around 45khz and the soprano is clearer at 55khz.

The pipistrelle bat makes a sound very much like the noise you get if you bring your open palms sharply down on your thighs one at a time – a bit wet and slappy sounding (thanks to Anne Youngman at the Bat Conservation Trust for that brilliant description! :-)).  This makes it easy to identify when heard alongside the daubentons’ sound, which is more like a geiger counter!

Unfortunately, the wind did seem to take a bit of a toll on the bat numbers, and although we did hear bats in two locations, they all appeared to be sporano pips and there weren’t very many of them.  It was disappointing that no daubentons were heard, despite Tim having set up a moth trap in the spillway to attract higher numbers to an easy feed!

So, after an hour or so of listening intently for bats, our weary but happy group made their way back down to the car park – but not before I was unfortunate enough to get a “gift” of some sap from one of the Scots Pines! 😦  I felt this big “plop” on my head and discovered I was very sticky indeed!  It did smell nice, but it took a fair bit of washing to get the sugary substance out of my hair!  I have to admit though – when it happened, I couldn’t help but be relieved that some roosting bird hadn’t just decided to give their own assessment of my presentation skills! 😉

All in all, the event went very well.  the small turn-out of bats was a little disappointing, but the big turn-out of visitors was very encouraging indeed!  Big thank you’s and well done’s to them all! 🙂  Grahame and I finally feel that our hard work is starting to pay off this year!

And finally – one of the visitors asked how long Pipistrelle bats live and I didn’t know the answer.  I can let you know now that the estimated lifespan is around 16 years!  Not bad, eh?

Happy bat hunting if you decide to give it a go yourself!

Take care, Janie

Posted by: llendorin | May 16, 2010

National Moth Night 2010 – The Results!

Who needs TV shows like Britain’s Got Talent when you can go out and see real beauty in the great outdoors?!

Well, last night was National Moth Night, and I’d like to say the event went off without a hitch, but hey, nobody’s perfect. There was a slight mix-up with the start time and unfortunately a couple of different times were published through different sources. Once this was sorted and the majority of people arrived, it went smoothly.

We had 5 different moth traps out during the event, and we caught over 100 moths of 20 species (we think – we’ll get to that, though!)

As you can see from the photos below, we had a decent number of people at the event, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves – and that’s the only criteria Janie and I judge the events on. If people enjoy it, we’ve done what we’re supposed to!

I’m sure Janie would be able to explain most of this better than I could, so I’m going to give in and get to the important part. The results!

In terms of bats, it wasn’t a particularly eventful night, with only 2 Soprano Pipistrelles spotted. Moths, on the other hand, featured quite heavily for the night!

The moth list was as follows:

  • 8 Brown Silver-Line
  • 2 Cream Wave
  • 13 Water Carpet
  • 19 Flame Carpet
  • 19 Common Quaker
  • 9 Early Thorn
  • 1 Chestnut
  • 3 Common Pug
  • 3 Scalloped Hazel
  • 16 Hebrew Character
  • 4 Pebble Prominent
  • 14 Clouded Drab
  • 1 Lesser Swallow Prominent
  • 1 Buff Ermine
  • 2 White Ermine
  • 1 V Pug
  • 1 Grey Pug
  • 1 Larch Pug
  • 1 Powdered Quaker
  • 1 Herald

That equates to 120 moths, over 20 species – maybe!

The reason I say maybe is that there has been some concern raised about the Larch Pug identification. Luckily, the person who made the ID has taken photos, so the Country Recorder and him will be discussing this. If the record is accepted as a real Larch Pug, it’ll be the first ever record for Fife! No promises, though. The Pug group of moths are notoriously difficult to correctly identify – I don’t even try!

Attached are some photos of some of the moths we captured. Don’t worry, though – since then, they’ve all been released back at Cullaloe!

If you came along, I hope you had a good time. If you didn’t – I hope this lets you see that moths aren’t just dull, brown creatures with little interest!

Posted by: llendorin | May 1, 2010

Preparing for the events of 2010

Well, it’s that time of year again, where we start running events on the reserve. This year we’re running six very different events, and I’d like to use this blog post as an opportunity to explain how we go about making preparations for them.

We have two events happening in the next two weeks or so, and it’s these events that we’ve been focusing heavily on.

The first event is for International Dawn Chorus Day, and we’re hosting it from 6am – 8am this Sunday, 2nd May.

The main preparation for this event has simply been to visit the reserve as frequently as possible. As our summer migrants are still arriving, the bird song is constantly changing right now, with new species arriving every day. Will we have all the species we’d expect for Sunday? Well, even we don’t know that yet. We’re still waiting on the last few species to arrive.

Some of the migrant species you may expect to see and hear during the event are: Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Blackcap and Grasshopper Warbler.

Of course, the migrant species are not all that’s on offer! Some of the most beautiful bird song is made by our resident species, such as the Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush or Dunnock, and we will also be listening out for these species. Who knows, we might even get our Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming in the pine trees!

Please do come along on Sunday morning. I know it’s an early start, but I’m sure it’ll be well worth it.

Now, the other event we’ve got planned over the next few weeks is National Moth Night. This one has (and still does) require significantly more preparation on our part. As moth species can change from one week to the next, we’re having to keep almost constant watch to see what species are about. In fact, we were there just last night, checking what could be found!

The event requires the use of light traps to attract and then capture the moths (for identification, then release), so we’ve needed to purchase the trap and a variety of other bits and pieces for the event. We’ve been supported by SNH in this, and for this we are grateful.

As this is a national survey, we’d also like our visitors to get involved, so we’ve been working on small ID sheets, detailing some of the species we’re likely to find. This sheet seems to be changing on an almost daily basis, with species appearing and disappearing regularly! Some species you may find at National Moth Night are (all the photos are of moths captured at Cullaloe itself!):

Water Carpet

Water Carpet

This species also has a dark (or melanic) form, which can also be found at Cullaloe:

Water Carpet - Dark Form

Common Quaker

Common Quaker

Twin-Spotted Quaker

Twin-Spotted Quaker

Hebrew Character

Hebrew Character

Clouded Drab

Clouded Drab

We thoroughly expect new species to appear in the next two weeks, so some of the above may not be there on the night. We’re also experimenting with sites for the moth trap. Trying to find the places which attract the most moths, but also remain easily accessible to visitors in the dark!

To add an extra element of interest, we’ve obtain some Bat Detectors for use during the event, through the SNH funding. If there are moths about, there are almost certainly bats about. We’re hoping we’ll be able to explain how this predator/prey interaction works and how moths are not as defenceless as you may think, when it comes to bat attacks!

We hope that anyone reading this will be inspired enough to come along to either of these events. Please also take a look at the events page (tab at the top of this page).  If these events aren’t for you – maybe one of the ones later in the year will be?

Grahame, Reserve Warden

Posted by: 4getmenotflower | March 22, 2010

CuSI Cullaloe!

This week, Grahame and I are putting the call out for members of the public who are out and about at Cullaloe, to help us out with a bit of investigating! 🙂  We are asked every year to keep a log of the swans who visit and take up residence at the Loch, but this year is proving a bit harder than usual!

As there has been a fair bit of cold weather (frostbitten toes anyone?) the Loch stayed frozen for a slightly longer amount of time than usual.  This, along with similar incidencies taking place up and down the country has made it much harder for paired up swans to chose their nesting sites.

As a result of this choosing lottery, we have been visited by at least 2 different pairs of swans so far this year!  And perhaps a third are there now!

As we like to know who our swans are and where they came from, we are asking for help from eagle-eyed visitors in finding out whether the swans we have visiting and considering staying are ringed or not.

So, we have begun our own CSI investigation, called CuSI Cullaloe! 🙂  This stands for Can u See It? 😉  If you should happen along to Cullaloe and you see swans on the Loch, do your best to see if there are tags on their legs.  These may be metal coloured or multi-coloured.  They may have numbers or letters on them, or both!  Anything that you can tell us would be helpful.  All we ask is that you try not to get yourself wet, stuck in mud, or disturb the swans unnecessarily!  If you have a pair of binoculars, these will be very helpful in your quest to be a successful CuSI investigator!

If you are confident of letting us know whether it is the male or female that is ringed, please do so.  The male is refered to as the “Cob” and he has a large bulb shaped lump that is on the join between his fore-head and beak.  The female also has this lump but it is much smaller.  The female swan is refered to as the “Pen”.

Last year’s swans successfully raised 7 cygnets.  This year, we hope to be able to ring the cygnets so we can track their progress in the future.  But for the moment, we would just like to know who mum and dad are! 🙂

Good luck and happy hunting! 🙂

Posted by: 4getmenotflower | February 13, 2010

Well, hello there!

This is our new home… what do you think? 🙂  We are enjoying the more roomy feel and the great scenery!

Today hasn’t just been about Cullaloe online though!  Oh no!  Grahame and I have also been down to the reserve to do a bit of sticking!  You may notice that some of the trees, particularly around the area of the screen, have silver sticking plasters on them.  Please, please, please don’t remove these!  We have been asked to mark certain trees for our manager, to help with up-coming work on the reserve.  Its nothing drastic – don’t worry! Its just a visible marker for our colleagues, the Conservation Team 🙂

Spring was definitely in the air today though!  Blackbirds, Robins and Chaffinches were all in fine voice as the pairing up challenge has begun for this year!  Grahame even managed to persuade a Great Spotted Woodpecker to drum with him on the pine trees for a little while! 😉  Grahame got a good beat going, but couldn’t quite manage the tempo and deeper timbre of the Woodpecker.  Mind you, Woody has had more practice! 😉

Anyway!  Off to mark more trees!

Posted by: cullaloelnr | December 8, 2009

That makes me see red, no wait, it’s amber. Oh, it’s green!

Hey folks,

Just a quick update to advise that there are roadworks going on just now, directly outside the reserve, with traffic lights at either end. Apparently, the road works will be going on for the next 4 weeks.

The reserve is still open and accessible, but please do take care when leaving. Currently, we can only see one set of traffic lights, and can’t tell which side is green.

In other news, we closed the valve to let the water level rise on the loch last week, and it has risen already! The spillway is now in full flow!
As a downside, the loch seems a bit quiet in terms of wildfowl just now, but to compensate, the feeders are getting lots of attention just now!

Posted by: cullaloelnr | November 26, 2009

Anyone for Swimming?!

Dear Blog-watchers, it is that time of year again when the wellies and mactintoshes come out and everyone looks a little like Paddington Bear as they make their way around Fife 😉 And at Cullaloe, it is no different!

As you know, Grahame and I are always keen to promote new developments at the reserve and today I present… the carpark-come-swimming pool! Now, anybody who knows us knows we would love nothing more than hoards of visitors to come along to our reserve – in rain snow, or the occasional sunshine – but on this occasion we have had to close the car park for safety due to flooding. The disabled parking area is still available for use, but the gate down to the carpark proper has been closed for the moment.

Now, we don’t wish to spoil all your fun, so we would still like to see you at the reserve whenever you would like to visit. The soggy birds and plants (and convenor and reserve warden) will still be around 🙂 And you are of course welcome to walk down to the car park to splash about in the big puddle until your heart is content! But please, please take care on the staircase down from the old Dam Wall as it is slippy!

Posted by: cullaloelnr | September 21, 2009

We went Bats for National Moth Night!

When I speak to most people about moths, they are more than happy to tell me that moths are boring, brown and annoying as they flutter around the lights in their house. How very wrong they are!

Most people appreciate butterflies and the variety and colour of them. What they don’t realise is that moths can be just as colourful, but with a wider variety!
There are over 800 different species of macro moth in the UK (Macro moths being those larger than a fingernail, generally) compared to only 50 or so butterflies!

To highlight this, SWT have run a variety of moth nights throughout the summer months at the various reserves in Fife. We’ve had 4 events at Cullaloe, ranging from very productive to hopelessly quiet.

The most recent (and last at Cullaloe for the year) event was held on the evening of 18th September, which was part of National Moth Night, a national celebration of moths and moth trapping.

Throughout the evenings of 18th and 19th September, there were literally hundreds of moth events accessible for the public up and down the UK. It isn’t all fun and games, though. The serious side to the National Moth Nights is that all of these sites were recording the species and numbers of moths present. It’s like a snapshot of the UK, charting the state of moths throughout the country.

Now, onto the event itself!

We set up two traps on the reserve. One was based at the pine trees next to the viewing screen and the other was in the willow scrub to the east of the spillway. The temperature wasn’t too bad – still in double figures when we set up and there was a fair bit of cloud, which would hopefully have stopped it from dropping too low (the lower the temperature, the less likely we are to see moths). It wasn’t long till we saw our first moth – a Canary-Shouldered Thorn. I’m sure you’ll agree – definitely not a dull, boring moth!

We had several moths in pretty quick succession at this point. I could tell you what we got when, but I think it’s easier at this stage just to show you the list of species – if you want to see what each one looks like, click on its name and you’ll be taken to a website with pictures and info on each species

4 x Canary Shouldered Thorn
2 x Small Wainscot
2 x Square-spot Rustic
11 x Autumnal Rustic
18 x Common Marbled Carpet
4 x Pink-barred Sallow
9 x Red-green Carpet
2 x Sallow
6 x Pine Carpet
5 x Spruce Carpet
3 x Grey Pine Carpet
2 x Brimstone
10 x Frosted Orange
5 x Rosy Rustic
1 x July Highflyer
6 x Black Rustic
1 x Small Phoenix
2 x Autumn Green Carpet
1 x Red-line Quaker
1 x Yellow-line Quaker

There were also 3 other species, which we have yet to confirm ID on.

Now, life as a moth isn’t always a safe place. The darkness hides you from some things, but not from everything – Our moth trap in the willow scrub is testament to that!

At about 9pm, after studying the recent captures at the screen, we took a walk to the willow scrub to see what was going on. When we got there we found… nothing! Not a single moth in sight.

Now, we knew this trap was working, the light was plenty bright enough and was in a nice, big clearing… surely the moths should have been here?!

The answer quickly became apparent as a bat flew right past us, quickly followed by another two! As we stared, watching these flying mammals hurtling past us at lightning speeds, we noticed that there was at least two different species of bat, judging from their size.

The smaller ones, we reckon are almost certainly either Common or Soprano Pipistrelles. The larger ones, on the other hand, we are not sure about. We suspect they could be Daubenton’s Bats that have come over from the loch, their usual hunting ground. They could also be other species, such as Natterer’s Bats, which are also found in Fife. Sadly, we did not have a bat detector with us, so were unable to get any sort of confirmation of this.

Still, it’s good to know that we’ve got a healthy population of bats, whatever species they are!

Now, having read all this and you’re now hankering for a bit of moth action – never fear! There is one final moth night planned for this Friday, 25th September at SWT’s Fleecefaulds Meadow reserve. It begins at 7:30pm and is being hosted by Tim Brain, our resident moth expert. There will even be a bat detector present this time!

We’ll be releasing dates for next year’s moth trapping in the next couple of months, so watch this space!

Older Posts »