Viola Stirling’s Nature Diary: 20th – 22nd April 1922

As Viola grows older, she makes fewer entries in her dairy and there are larger gaps between entries. This probably reflects a busier life with school work and friendships taking up her time. Here, she notes sightings of creatures that herald the spring, in late April 1922.

Viola has noted bats around Gargunnock in previous diary entries both seeing them, and catching them to practice her taxidermy skills on. Here she notes the sighting of the first bat of the year at Gartinstarry. This is likely to either be a Pipistrelle bat or a long-eared bat.

Bats do hibernate in the winter, spending their time in their winter roosts. You can read more about the habits of British bats here.

The arrival of swallows in Scotland traditionally signals the beginning of summer. Here, Viola spots the first swallow in April. The sight of the first swallow perching on a power cable is usually a very welcome one and the bird is easily recognised by its distinctive shape and colouring.

Swallows make a remarkable and perilous journey to Scotland every year from southern Africa, passing across the Sahara Desert, Morocco, eastern Spain, the Pyrenees, France and then England. They breed here, building their distinctive earthen nests in outbuildings, raise their chicks, and then make the return journey in the autumn. You can read more about birds that migrate to Scotland here.

Viola has written about finding frog and toad spawn in her diary previously, this time she describes the frogs appearing in the pond at Gartinstarry. Frogs breed in the spring and become generally more active.

Viola likes to hunt rabbits but is evidently not imune to the charms of young ones as she notes their appearance in April. Like many creatures, rabbits tend to begin breeding in the spring when there is plentiful food and the weather is warmer.

Viola sees another woodcock, she had written about sighting this bird very recently in her diary.

April 21st Gartinstarry. 9.00 pm

Saw first bat this year.

April 20th Gargunnock

Saw first swallow.

April 22nd Gartinstarry 9.30 pm

Saw several young rabbits. First this year.

Also 2 woodcock, & frogs in pond.