Wildlife Watch: Booming Biodiversity at Bowhill

By Andy Beverley

Bowhill’s Countryside Ranger

Wildlife Watch Bowhill

Bowhill means many things to many people, but as the Countryside Ranger on the estate, I cannot help but be constantly inspired by the abundant biodiversity created through centuries of sustainable land management.

As we move into summer, there is so much to see and Bowhill’s first Bioblitz kick started our recording and monitoring program for the year, whilst providing visitors with an opportunity to join in on the look-out for wildlife!

There were two well attended walks on the day, hosted by the Central Borders Red Squirrel Network and Scottish Badgers. Lots of signs of activity were found, with many chewed cones (squirrels will strip cones to get at the high energy seeds) and a squirrel drey, plus a very large badger sett with lots of signs of activity, including snuffle holes (where badgers search for food like beetles) and bundles of dried grass (which badgers use for bedding).

The badger sett has been monitored by the local Scottish Badgers branch for some time and Lisa McLeish has provide some great footage of a Sow (the Mum) with three cubs, who all seem to be doing really well.

The local branch of the Scottish Ornithology Club (SOC) came out in force for the Bioblitz, carrying out three breeding bird surveys along the Lochs, Lady’s and Bell of the Woods waymarked trails. A total of 47 species and 518 individual birds were recorded on the day, including many red listed vulnerable species such as Cuckoo, Greenfinch and Spotted Flycatcher.

The birds of Bowhill always amaze and captivate our visitors, with the Upper Loch being host to an array of different species. Keep an eye out for the Little Grebe nesting on Lilly pads or if you are lucky enough, wee fledglings following their parents around!

Other activities on the day included a Bird of Prey trail, set up by the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project and a fascinating stall showcasing various mushrooms from the Scottish Borders Fungus Group. Lisa McLeish from Go Wild also had a selection of moths from the estate for everyone to look at.

On the Wing:

Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines) recorded by Lucy McTaggart

Orange Tip (Anthocharis Cardamines) recorded by Lucy McTaggart

Lisa’s Moth Trapping (setting up lights over night to attract moths) turned out some great results and there are another two volunteers undertaking observational surveys at Bowhill.

Along with Lucy (a regular visitor), Malcolm the Local Recorder for Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) has been undertaking some monitoring along the Yarrow Water.

Clouded Magpie Butterfly (Abraxas sylvata) recorded by Malcolm Lindsay

Clouded Magpie (Abraxas Sylvata) recorded by Malcolm Lindsay

Daytime finds have shown many butterflies are now flying, but Malcolm’s nighttime surveying has discovered only the second recorded instance of the Clouded Magpie in Selkirkshire and a first for Bowhill.

The Clouded Magpie has markings that mimic bird droppings, a clever adaption to help it avoid predation

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)

Damselflies and Dragonflies

Summer is also a great time of year to spot Damselflies and Dragonflies. The smaller Damselfly is often thought of as a Dragonfly, so a few easy ways to recognise the difference between the two (other than size) is wing and eye positions. A damselfly will rest with its wings along its back and has eyes at the side of its head, whilst the Dragonfly will rest with its wings out to the side and its eyes are very large, taking up most of its head.

If you are looking to spot some of these amazing flying invertebrates, keep an eye out around the Lochs or along the Lady’s Walk.

If you see any interesting species when visiting, please do let us know. You can either record you sighting using the iNaturalist app, or email bowhillranger@buccleuch.com

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