Better late than never as the old saying goes. Here's our blog on the wildlife to look out for across Scotland in April.
What to see in Scotland this month IV
Personally I don’t think there are many good reasons to get up and out of the house before dawn. If someone mentions it, my first reaction is usually to shudder at the mere thought.
Black grouse, Andy Hay
As you can probably tell I’m not really a morning person, however there is one wildlife spectacle that is capable of convincing me otherwise (even if just for that one day) - the possibility of seeing a black grouse lek.
At sunrise, black grouse males will gather at communal ‘lekking’ grounds to strut their stuff, fight, display, and basically do anything they can to try and grab the attention of a female. The whole proud performance is accompanied by a low soothing note known as ‘rookooing’ - a sound that can carry more than ¼ mile!
Black grouse males, Andy Hay
Each male has his own territory to defend meaning fights can often break out between rival birds, and the closer a male stands to the centre of the lek, the higher his status. These displays happen during most months of the year but April is the peak time, and although these beautifully charismatic birds are always wonderful to see, managing to catch a lek is truly special. RSPB Scotland is running several black grouse events this year, so check them out if you’re interested.
Now, when it comes to impressive aerial acrobatics, the blue tit might not be the first species to spring to mind but the return of some warm weather seems to inspire them. The males perform a sort of floating display with the male parachuting towards a low perch from a height to try and capture the attention of potential mates. Look out for this behaviour next time you’re out on a spring walk!
Blue tit, Ray Kennedy
From mid-April large white butterflies will be flitting around our gardens once again, with the females looking for suitable plants on which to lay her eggs. These butterflies are widespread and will turn up in all manner of green spaces including parks, gardens, meadows, and hedgerows including on Orkney and Shetland. Large whites have a very powerful flight and are capable of migrating over considerable distances.
And, one final garden visitor to keep our eyes peeled for this month is a nice simple one to recognise - the hedgehog!
Hedgehog, Eleanor Bentall
These prickly little creatures will start turning up again at this time of year after a long winter of hibernation, wandering into gardens and waddling around parks in search of a good meal. Hedgehogs are drawn in by lawns and flowerbeds where they can find beetles, slugs, and earthworms, making them a firm favourite with many a keen gardener looking for an efficient way to rid their veggie patches of common pests.
When threatened, hedgehogs will roll themselves into a sharp little ball to deter predators; a single hedgehog can have as many as 16,000 spines making up this impressive coat of armour.
Happy wildlife watching everyone and we’ll be back with a new ‘what to see’ blog in May!