With the cold weather of late April now over, the start of May has seen warmer and (some) sunnier days. As a result flowers are starting to bloom again and the first butterflies of spring have emerged. At the same time many of our over-wintering birds have moved on and summer visitors have arrived.
In the woods beside the River Findhorn in the SW corner of the Reserve many early flowering plants are coming out before the light gets crowded out by the leaf canopy of the woodland. These include the blues of Green Alkanet and Wood Forget-me-not as well as Cow Parsley, Greater Stitchwort and Wood Anemones. Butterflies that can be seen include Green-veined Whites and Speckled Woods.
The saltmarsh is relatively quiet at the moment, but plenty of Scurvy Grass is in flower and a few Ringlet butterflies can be spotted.
In the coastal heathland near the beach car park there is plenty in flower. Most obvious is the Whin or Gorse and the Broom which both provide a bright splash of yellow. Smaller plants include Birds-foot Trefoil, Common Dog Violet, Thrift and Common Storksbill. On sunny days Small Copper butterflies and Dingy Skippers can be seen on the wing. The Skipper is easily overlooked but is a relatively rare butterfly this far north in Britain.
Amongst the birds on the Reserve, many of the wildfowl on the Bay have now departed although there are still good numbers of waders which have stopped off at Findhorn on their way north to breeding grounds. Latest counts included 50 Bar-tailed Godwit, 450 Dunlin, 600+ Ringed Plover and 270+ Knot. Summer arrivals include Swallows, House and Sand Martins, as well as Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Chiffchaff and Willow Warblers. However the star bird is a Grasshopper Warbler which is offering fine views beside the B9011 to Findhorn just north of Kinloss village. If you do go and look for it, then take care with the traffic as it is a very busy road.