One of nature’s true marvels has been screaming overhead this week as they reach the final leg of their epic migration, flying more than 3,000 miles, often in less than seven days!
Once known as the Devil’s bird, with their distinctive sickle shaped wings, black plumage and high pitched screams, swifts are true masters of the sky. Only ever touching down to rear their young, they spend their entire lives on the wing.
Swift - Image Credit: Mike Langman (rspb-images.com)
Young swiftlets in preparation for leaving the nest do press ups, lifting themselves up by pushing down on their wings. Once they leave the nest they will not land again for two years, spending all their time airborne, eating in the air, sleeping in the air, even bathing in the air by slowly flying through rain!
Swift numbers have been declining heavily in the UK, dropping by 47% between 1995 and 2014. To find out what you can do to help, click on the link here.
Another migrant which has recently arrived on the reserve is whitethroat. Male whitethroat arrive before the females and start to build a number of nests which they will display near to in order to try and attract a female who will hopefully be suitably impressed by one of his nests and decide to stay. Look out for our whitethroat in the walled garden, the roof of our visitor centre or the dry stone wall behind the willow patch!
Much less of a migrant but an uncommon bird for the Mull of Galloway is robin. One was recently seen on the bird feeders at the back of the visitor centre.
Razorbill, guillemot, and kittiwake numbers are still slowly increasing and we expect to see some egg laying anytime soon. Black guillemot are often spotted on the water below Lagvag and gannet can be seen from any of the viewpoints looking out to sea, whereas fulmar and raven are more often seen nearer to the Gallie Craig.
Fulmar - Photo Credit: Rob Conn
Peregrine has also been sighted from Lagvag and rock pipit are best spotted on the cliff tops near the foghorn.
Meadow pipit are common sightings all around the reserve as are wheatear, swallow and house martin. We have recently installed three house martin nest boxes at the back of our visitor centre and are waiting with our fingers crossed to see if any of them get used.
Meadow pipit - Photo Credit: Rob Conn
The number of shag nests with chicks has been increasing and can be viewed from various points around the Mull. Pop in to the visitor centre to find out from one of our team where best to look for them.
Roe deer are seen most mornings or evenings. Stonechat, linnet and goldfinch are infrequent sightings on the reserve and even rarer are twite with four being recently reported near the Gallie Craig.
Roe deer - Photo Credit: Rob Conn
For those unfamiliar with the Mull of Galloway, the RSPB Visitor Centre is open 7 days a week between 10am and 5pm, the Lighthouse Exhibition Centre is open every day between 10am and 4pm and you can climb the Lighthouse Tower on weekends between 10am and 4pm (Last entry at 3:30pm)
Mull of Galloway Lighthouse - Photo Credit: Rob Conn
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