Monday, June 28, 2021

πŸ“– St. Cyrus NNR 🌫 14C ~ Wind SE@8mph 28/06/21

Today, a trip to St Cyrus National Nature Reserve which is situated between the village of St Cyrus and the North Sea in the far south of Aberdeenshire. The reserve comprises a narrow strip of land that is 3.5 km long and less than 500 m across at its widest point. The total area is 92 hectares most of which is only a few metres above sea level and bounded by cliffs to the west. It forms the northern third of Montrose Bay, with the River North Esk marking its southern boundary. The reserve was declared in 1962 and is managed by Nature Scotland. 

The view on arrival walking down from the Visitor Centre

The cliffs and dunes provide a nationally important habitat for flowering plants and insects, many of which are at their northern limit in Britain. The reserve is one of the most important botanical sites on the northeast coast of Scotland, supporting over 300 plant species.

The view once the sea haar had arrived

The main target of the visit was to try and locate a very small population of Northern Brown Argus Butterflies that reside in the northernmost part of the reserve. The weather on arrival was decent enough with temperatures around 18C but just a half-hour in and the sea haar arrived reducing both visibility and unfortunately temperature, now just 13C. 

My first Northern Brown Argus since moving north. ~ In Scotland, most individuals are of the race Artaxerxes and have a characteristic white spot in the middle of the forewing (see photo). In northern England, this spot is generally dark brown or black. Similar to Brown Argus but differentiated by orange spots.

In effect, the sea haar can actually be a bonus and in this case, it was a help rather than a hindrance. Nothing worse than chasing butterflies around in full sun trying for the money shot. If I could locate any today they certainly were not going far and in this case, it paid off with two specimens! 

Small Heath ~ Pretty abundant around St. Cyrus it seems


Common Blue

Meadow Brown

Having completed the initial task an enjoyable few hours spent locating lots of Small Heath, plus a few more year firsts with Ringlet, Common Blue and Meadow Brown. Frankly, with such a desperate spring continuing on into the early summer I was beginning to wonder if things would ever improve. I was aware that everything is a little later in appearance up here in Aberdeenshire, but it had become a concern!

Parent Sedge Warbler ready to complete the next feed.

Juvenile Sedge Warbler ready for dinner.

Several parents and juvenile Stonechats were seen today

Wonderful to just sit and have lunch watching the many nesting Fulmars on the cliffs above, the odd Peregrine causing a few eruptions. It was also good to see so many juvenile Stonechats and Sedge Warblers being ably attended to by the parents.

Common Comfrey

Clustered Bellflower

Bloody Crane's Bill

Finally a few additions to the wildflower database.