The Mull of Galloway is strongly affected by the seasons. The passage of time from one month to the next is noticeable in both the flora and fauna. Some changes are subtle, some much more obvious.
One of the most noticeable changes at present is the increased number of linnets and goldfinches. These small seed eating birds are attracted to the large buffet available to them in the form of various plants belonging to the thistle and dock family, including marsh thistle, curled leaved dock and sheep's sorrel, that have gone to seed. Flocks of more than 30 goldfinches and 20 linnets are commonly seen moving around the heathland, feeding from plant to plant.
Male linnet near the RSPB Visitor Centre - Photo credit: Robert Conn
Fledgling wheatears, stonechats, meadow pipits and pied wagtails are common sightings. House martins and swallows can be seen sweeping low over the vegetation, catching insects in the air. House martins and swallows can be distinguished from each other by the very distinctive white patch above the tail on a house martin, whereas swallows have long tail feathers referred to as streamers, and it seems that with swallows, size does matter! Apparently the longer the males streamers, the more attractive he is to females.
Swallow - Photo credit: Robert Conn
More kittiwake chicks have been hatching this week, these can be seen from the RSPB Visitor Centre via our Cliffside camera. Puffin sightings continue to be reported most days but still in small numbers, ranging from 1 to 6 generally. Check with RSPB staff or volunteers for the best places to hopefully spot these delightful clowns of the sea.
Puffins below Lagvag Veiwpoint - Photo credit: Robert Conn
Guillemot, razorbill and herring gull chicks are also present around the Mull of Galloway and fulmars continue to incubate their eggs. Again, for information on where best to see them, speak with one of the RSPB team.
Fulmars - Photo credit: Robert Conn
large numbers of moon jellyfish can be seen from the cliff tops and viewpoints drifting with the currents marking a seasonal rise in the sea temperatures. These translucent jellyfish range in size from 5cm to 40cm and prey on small zooplankton such as fish eggs, larval crabs and shrimps. They are commonly sighted around the UK, mainly between July and August.
This weekend coming (9th & 10th July) The Mull of Galloway Community Trust along with RSPB Mull of Galloway will be hosting various events as part of their Smugglers Festival. for more information and a schedule of events click here.
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