Just a quick update on some of the recent sightings on and around the reserve. We've been getting a lot of beautiful bullfinches coming to the feeding stations most days at the moment, Gary, one of our volunteers, had seven just on the edge of the Dubbs Trail!
Yesterday was WeBS count day, so here's what we saw:
3 great crested grebe, 3 grey heron, 17 mute swan, 18 whooper swan (including the yellow colour ringed VXL), 2 greylag goose, 128 wigeon, 1 pair gadwall, 59 teal, 29 mallard, 13 pochard, 72 tufted ducks, 38 goldeneye, 14 goosander, 25 coot, 58 lapwings in the Barr Castle fields, 3 black headed gulls, 1 common gull, 3 herring gull.
2 cormorant, 1 grey heron, 2 mute swan, 10 whooper swan, 2 teal, 26 mallard, 3 pochard, 22 tufted duck, 15 goldeneye, 4 goosander, 8 lapwing and 2 black headed gulls.
Castle Semple Loch:
1 cormorant, 13 mute swan, 47 mallard, 36 tufted ducks, 18 goldeneye, 2 goosander, 1 moorhen, 57 black headed gulls.
1 great crested grebe, 3 mute swan, 6 whooper swan, 3 wigeon, 11 teal, 4 mallard, 10 tufted duck, 18 goldeneye (9 male and 9 female,) 2 oystercatcher, 6 black headed gull, 1 common gull and 2 herring gull.
There has also been a male sparrowhawk that continues to take up residence in the small bush right next to the feeding station. He has sat there for up to 2 and a half hours at a time (!) providing everyone with great views but scaring off everything else! We are continuing to get brambling and several now very brightly coloured lesser redpolls at the feeders, no sign of any mealy redpolls recently.
The snowdrops are out, the daffodils are peeking up through the soil and trees are starting to bud. Spring is definitely on its way! And, with temperatures creeping up, the birds take their cue to start finding a mate and taking up a territory.
Out and about on the reserve this week you can hear many of the birds are already starting to sing; the sweet song of a robin, the trill of a blue tit, and just yesterday we were treated to the beautiful, varied tunes of a song thrush singing right outside the visitor centre. It is usually only the male bird that will sing in this way, marking his territory and trying to attract a passing female.
It’s not just song that attracts a mate though– the great spotted woodpecker does the same job by drumming his bill on hollow wood. As I was out this week filling up the bird feeders on the trail, I could hear a woodpecker drumming in the trees above me.
Out on the water too, some of the ducks are performing their courtship displays. The most spectacular of these being the goldeneye; the male performing acrobatics on the water like in the picture below. Quite a sight!
All these courting birds will soon be needing a place to nest, and as this is National Nestbox week, why not join us on Saturday for our Build a Bird a Home Day? You can make and decorate your own nest box to bring home.
Also this week, is our exciting fundraising Casino Night! The visitor centre will be transformed and we’ll be playing blackjack, roulette, and you can even put a bet on at the races! .
Full details of both events are on the Lochwinnoch webpage, hopefully see you there!
I'm reporting from a rather wet, but at least not windy nature reserve today. We've been kept pretty busy over the past week or so with both good and bad (and just plain ugly!) goings on at the reserve.
We'll do this in reverse order and start with the ugly. Unfortunately we came in on Saturday morning last week to discover that the reserve car had been vandalised and all that was left was a blackened shell. This was a horrible way to start the day as you can imagine. We were so shocked as nothing like that had ever occurred on the reserve before. Needless to say the police were involved and we hope they might be able to help us discover what exactly happened on Friday 28th Jan. If you happen to have seen anything, please do let us know.
Now the bad...this weeks bad has to be the weather. The gales on Wednesday and Thursday meant that we had to cancel our World Wetlands Day walk as it was just too windy to be able to walk anywhere or see anything - I think that is technically called nice weather for ducks?! A shame as this year was the 40th anniversary of the signing of the RAMSAR convention and now the cold weather has gone, there has been quite a lot to see on the Aird Meadow loch, including up to 31 whooper swans, tufted ducks, teal, wigeon, pochard, goosander, cormorants and grey herons. However, the weather seems to have been kind to us with no major trees falling or damage having been done - phew!
And last but by no means least, the good! We've had some great sightings on the reserve this week, including lots and lots of finches. Flocks of a mixture of chaffinches, lesser redpolls, siskins and goldfinches have been keeping us amused at the feeding station as the finch population of Lochwinnoch attempts to eat us out of house and home! We've also had some really nice whooper swan sightings, with family groups including quite a lot of juvenile birds (a good sign that things are going well for them in their Scandinavian breeding grounds). Today there have been 26 whoopers on the Barr Loch! Other wildlife highlights have included 120+ mallards, still brambling hanging around the feeding station, 40+ lapwing seen flying over the reserve, buzzards and sparrowhawks almost every day, 45 Canada geese and a dipper on the River Calder.
Today on the Barr Loch we have seen: 7 great crested grebe, 3 grey heron, 8 mute swan, 26 whooper swan, 41 greylag goose, 101 wigeon, 46 teal, 27 mallard, 112 tufted ducks, 42 goldeneye, 4 goosander, 1 kestrel, 20 coot, 49 lapwings, 2 black headed gull, 1 male great spotted woodpecker, 2 treecreepers and 8 reed buntings.
Also under good, following the windy weather Ciril (the osprey platform expert) came to check our two osprey platforms and get them ready in the hope of attracting birds onto them this year. He told us he'd installed a couple of new perches so fingers crossed for an even better osprey year than last year!
We also started on a new mural in the Wilson Hide, a joint effort between some of the members of our young volunteers group, and masterminded by our new, artistic volunteer, Sarah. They have already made good progress with it and visitors have already commented that it looks really good and brightens the place up, so keep an eye out for it as it progresses. The Young Volunteers Group were also learning all about John Muir for the award that they are undertaking and came up with some really nice quotes from him, one of which I would like to finish off with today:
"In every walk with nature, one receives far more than one seeks..."