New blog from Conservation Manager Stuart Benn...

Tales of the Unexpected

Do you ever think about how important the unexpected is to us?

Not someone creeping up behind you and going ‘boo!’ or a brick falling on your head but the pleasant kind of unexpected, the type you really couldn’t have foreseen but which really brightened up your day. How dull life would be without them.

We were looking out into our wee garden the other day – a robin, a couple of blackbirds, the usual sparrows (how people down south would love to think of sparrows as usual in their parks and gardens) when we saw a flash of red in the Berberis – a redstart, a %^&$£*& redstart, in our garden!! As unlikely as it was beautiful – it only stayed a few moments but the memory of it will be with us long after it’s reached its winter home south of the Sahara.

Photo by Desmond Dugan.

Later that day the neighbours came round with a caterpillar that they’d found in their garden – another handsome chap (or lady). Distinctive enough to allow an identification and a quick look through the books showed that it will turn into a moth – a grey dagger, a nice find in the North of Scotland.

And turn it into a moth is exactly what they are going to do. Their wee girl has put it in a muslin bag with a good supply of its favourite leaves and it will perform that little miracle of changing from a caterpillar into a cocoon into a moth. Magic!

I guess the redstart was also a sign of the changing seasons – it was on the move, migrating away from northern Europe before the cold kicks in and the insects disappear. But there’s a bit of life left in summer yet and I had the house doors open to let the warmth waft through when I saw that the breeze had brought in a small tortoiseshell too!

It stayed inside for a good hour before we decided it was better off in the garden, so shoo’d it out – giving nature a home, indeed!

Small tortoiseshell in house