Today is the anniversary of a tragic accident at the Mull of Galloway, which directly involved the building which is now the RSPB visitor centre. On the 8th June 1944, a Beaufighter aircraft was en route from Prestwick to an airfield on the Solway but encountered poor weather and crashed into first the Lighthouse boundary wall, followed by our visitor centre roof (an equipment store at that time). The Beaufighter then crashed into the sea, killing not only the pilot and engineer but also a member of the lighthouse team who was in the equipment store.
We are at the time of year when we usually have one or two avian casualties at the visitor centre; fledglings, especially young swallows that aren't very experienced flyers sometimes collide with the visitor centre walls or windows. There are a number of young families on the reserve just now - you can tell due to the level of alarm calls echoing around the heath. Pipits, pied wagtails, wheatears and stonechats in particular have raised their first broods and are trying to protect these vulnerable 'new kids on the block'. Yesterday was a foggy, rainy day (perhaps similar to the conditions experienced by the Beaufighter crew 70 years ago) in complete contrast to today which is bright and breezy. You could hear the alarm calls from the wheatear parents though and I saw one or two youngsters hopping and flitting uncertainly near the lighthouse walls.
The two cliff cams were especially helpful for the intrepid visitors yesterday. A walking group from North Wales (they make them hardy there!) called in and were enthralled by the close views of nesting seabirds. Some of the kittiwakes now have eggs, some are building their nests and we watched a pair bringing in material every few minutes. Kittiwakes tend to use quantities of mud and vegetation in their nest building and some years there can be a delay if the conditions are too dry. I doubt that is an issue after yesterday's downpour!
The shag family that we have taken a close interest in are growing rapidly and are now three weeks old. They won't fledge for another month or so: there's plenty of time for you to come and have a look for yourselves and admire these handsome birds. We are getting a few more reports of puffins seen out on the sea below the foghorn but these are in very small numbers, a maximum of three being seen at any given time.
As the sun has come out again today, so we should get more sightings of our smaller creatures. The hogweed is flourishing and is the food source of choice for the rosechafer beetles so keep an eye out for that iridescent green/bronze glinting at you - try the plants either side of the steps down to the foghorn and by the south facing drystane wall. A visitor reported seeing a burnet moth this morning and we have also had cinnabars and small tortoiseshell butterflies in recent days. And, as usual there are vast quantities of snails all over the visitor centre and lighthouse boundary walls!
Thank you so much Jone for keeping us informed.. I feel as if I'm still there when I can read the updates you so regularly post. It's great to hear about the birds and I love seeing the flowers at this time of year. Was great meeting you.
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