Archive for May 2016

And we may have another rarity …

The beautiful Great Yellow Bumblebee was once numerous in flowery meadows throughout the UK but, as with many other species (including the Corncrake), changes in farming practices over the last 100 years have led to a drastic decline and populations are now confined to the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the far north of Scotland, and parts of Orkney. It is one of the rarest bumblebees, and is a Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Species.

Great_Yellow_Bumblebee_-_Bombus_distinguendus

Here on Easdale we have an abundance of all the things the Great Yellows like best, especially up on the plots: red clover (see illustration above), knapweed (like a puny thistle without the prickles) and vetch (a low growing leguminous plant). The queens choose holes under tussocky grass to make their nests, and we’ve plenty of that as well. They prefer to make their nests a polite distance apart, so it’s unlikely that we’ll have more than one or two colonies; but, as each colony has up to 50 workers, there could be 100 of them zooming about! So take a bit of time to rest in the sunshine amongst some red clover and vetch and listen for the BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

The RSPB is apparently undertaking a survey of Great Yellow Bumblebee numbers, but we couldn’t find a link to it. If you do spot any individuals, contact the Bumblebee Conservation Trust – HERE – who have a very helpful factsheet on their website.

 

 

 

 

We have Corncrakes!

Yes, not one but TWO! They’ve taken up residence in the shrubby bank at the back of the Coalree, and their territories extend in roughly a semicircle down into the Rush’n’Gush.

Corncrakes lurk about in the undergrowth and are very hard to spot, but one islander was actually lucky enough to see one as it legged it across the path into cover at the other side.

Corncrake

The males call mostly at night, between about 11pm and 3am, but ours are pretty shouty during the day as well. This was good news for an RSPB birdwatcher who’d come across to the island to verify our reports, and our resident birds are now officially logged.

The corncrake’s Latin name derives from its call – Crex Crex – and this distinctive call can be heard for almost a mile! Females usually make a bark-bark call, but also use the crex-crex call like the males, so we can hope that we have both a gentleman and a lady in our midst, and that they become very well acquainted!

There’s lots more information about the Corncrake on the RSPB website - HERE - including a video recording of a calling male.

Look what passed by Easdale Island a couple of days ago …

Schooner