July 11th   Leave a comment

There are a lot of butterflies about. At West Braes (and pretty much everywhere around Crail with a bit of meadow) there are ringlets over every patch of long grass. Smallish, dark chocolaty brown and with a neat cream border around the wing. The other common butterflies there at the moment are meadow browns. These are larger, less uniform and orangey brown. Ringlets do well after wet summers so perhaps that is why we have so many about this year, and by the way this summer is shaping up, why we might not have so many next year.

Male ringlet butterfly at West Braes today

Male ringlet butterfly at West Braes today

Thoughts of why we have so many ringlets this year prompted me to look at my weather station records. Last year seemed like a wet summer and indeed looking at the records we had nearly 100mm of rain here last year in June, with significant rainfall (more than 2mm) on half of the days in June. This June we had only 32mm which is pretty typical for Crail and actually very dry. If you extrapolate that up to a year’s worth, that’s equivalent to parts of Africa adjacent to the Sahara that we consider pretty arid. Temperature wise, June last year had an average temperature of just 11 degrees, two degrees cooler than this June. So mid-summer last year was a cool washout, but this year is much more typical. The sunny dry days we are having are what we should expect living in Crail.

I also saw another of my returning redshanks out at West Braes this afternoon. A group of 7 were roosting on a rock offshore at high tide away from the very disturbed beaches today. Most were on one leg which is very frustrating when you need to see both to get the full combination and so their individual identification. Some were sitting down on the rocks with their legs completely tucked underneath them which is even worse. It took a lot of patient watching and waiting before one or another shuffled a bit and changed position or the leg they were standing on and I could see all their rings. The new bird today is a harbour regular back for its 5th winter and was one of the first birds back last year, also in mid-July.

The black-headed gulls are now coming back as well after their breeding season inland. Most still have their summer brown (not really black at all) heads, but they will lose them soon. Like the redshanks, they are all adults, and the first juveniles will follow shortly.

Black-headed gull - back on the coast again after breeding on a freshwater loch inland

Black-headed gull – back on the coast again after breeding on a freshwater loch inland

Posted July 11, 2013 by wildcrail in Sightings

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