Wildlife sightings at the reserve have continued to go from strength to strength over the past two weeks, with amazing otter sightings, once in 24 year sightings and the arrival of some of our first autumn and winter migrants.
Firstly, our autumn migrant species have started to arrive/pass through, with the first two whooper swans being seen near the beginning of October on Castle Semple loch, followed by a total of five on the 9th Oct (four on the reserve, the first for the season) then on the 12th October, we had 30 land very briefly on the Aird Meadow, before continuing on their journey. On the 13th and 14th we had our first fieldfares of the year, with 40 seen both days on the Aird Meadow. Our first redwing was also seen on the 13th along the Dubbs Water trail, but the most seen so far this month have been 14 birds on the Aird Meadow today (18th). We are also getting excellent numbers of duck arriving, with around 156 mallards today, up to 80 tufted ducks during the first few weeks of October with pochard, wigeon, teal and goldeneye all arriving in varying quantities.
Next, the fabulous otter sightings on the 8th October. A couple of our visitors were walking along the Dubbs Water trail and suddenly noticed not one, not two, not three but FOUR otters all swimming together! Amidst yells of 'otter!' and frantic scramblings, Mr Andy Stewart managed to get this picture:
Then, as if we hadn't had enough highlights on the reserve, on Sunday 16th Oct, Allan was in the visitor centre and noticed some rather unusual looking sparrows with a very distinctive black cheek spot and brown heads. Yes, you've guessed it, they were tree sparrows. Not only a rarity for this year but actually the first on the reserve since 1987, which our administration assistant commented was the year she was born! A total of four were seen at the feeders. Brilliant!
Other highlights so far in October include:
A pintail on the 15th, a female hen harrier over the Barr Loch on the 13th and 16th, a kingfisher on the River Calder on the 5th, another jay sighting on the 6th, a male gadwall on the 10th and a female on the 18th. An immature/female shoveler on the Aird Meadow on the 18th. A pair of scaup on the 13th, 15th & 18th. A barn owl in the daytime on the 13th. 12 linnet and a single brambling on the 16th. A skylark on the 15th.