May in the Cairngorms

A busy month of new life, birds in full song and colour surrounding our countryside. May has been dry and with warm weather the past few days, the colours from the fresh tree leaves, wildflowers, and emerging insects have been lovely to admire.

Tongues on Fire fungi

Our guide Sally showed in a recent live Facebook video, the incredible and unusual looking Tongues of Fire fungus. These unusual-looking fungi grow on Juniper, which is abundant in the Cairngorms National Park. At the beginning of May, you could find it on some juniper bushes as it stood out in the green foliage.

Bird’s foot Trefoil, Milkwort, Greater Stitchwort and Yellow Pimpernel

Spring is a great time to start identifying wildflowers that begin to appear in different environments, with Roy showing us a lot of riverside plants on his live videos. Using a wildflower guidebook or the ‘Seek’ app on mobiles, you can identify flowers on your own patch. These are just a few of what I have found this month, with every flower a different colour and interesting to look at close-up. The broom shrubs burst with this vibrant yellow, creating a gorgeous pathway to walk through.

Path of Broom
Tiny Orange tip Butterfly egg

You will need to get down onto your stomachs to find this tiny egg! The Lady’s smock flower or Cuckoo flower as its commonly known due to its appearance when the cuckoos arrive back here is home for one butterfly egg. The Orange tip butterfly will lay a single egg once a year on the stem of the cuckoo flower, which is smaller than a pinhead. The caterpillars will feed on other Orange tip eggs, so typically you will only find one egg per flower stem to avoid this cannibalism.

Orange tip Butterfly (Male)
Wood Warbler

May saw the return of all our Summer migrant birds, meaning an abundance of bird song and activity in the local woodlands and our gardens. The early Willow Warblers have been joined by Swallow, Swift, Spotted Flycatchers and Pied Flycatcher. A favourite bird is the Wood Warbler, with its yellow bib and bright white chest, most notable for its spinning coil song that echoes through birch woodlands.

Purple Thorn, Lesser Ssallow Prominent and Pale-shouldered Brocade

On calm nights with no rain, it is a great chance to put out a moth trap to discover what comes out during the night. They are relatively easy to make or find a second hand one to try out and have a go at identification. With it getting light early, you want to get to the moth trap first thing in the morning so the moths can hide back in foliage away from predators. These are a few of the moths in the garden, but it will depend on where you live as to the species you get. Check out the ‘what’s flying tonight’ website to help you.

Share your wildlife experiences with us at Speyside Wildlife, and join in with our live video feeds on Facebook with #dailybirdsong.