So, we haven't quite made the 120 species we were looking for, we did get one more though to make us up to 118 in total (woodcock was the 118 species.) But, I still think 118 is a good number for this year and hope we can do even better in 2012! We have had some excellent additions thanks to our visitors, volunteers, staff and seemingly resident photographers (you know who you are!) and many of these records would not have come about were it not for the passion, enthusiasm and sheer love of birds and wildlife that we have seen over the past 12 months, so thank you!
Highlights for me during November/December have included the family of four otters that we witnessed frolicking on the extremely flooded Aird Meadow on the 29th November. Not only could we see them so very close to the building, for at least an hour they were very visible (although sadly we had very few visitors as the village and road was flooded,) we could hear the mother calling to her cubs, followed by the whole family swimming off together into the distance. I have never seen such a spectacular and intimate view of otter behaviour and felt very lucky to have been a part of it.
December also proved to be a smashing month for hen harriers, with regular sightings over the Aird Meadow and the Barr Loch, at various times of day, giving smashing views and producing some excellent shots from our photographers. The photographs also helped us to recognise that we had seen at least three different male birds over the Aird Meadow, due to the variations in plumage that had been captured by different people throughout the month. This is excellent because, as many of you will already know, hen harriers are suffering a great deal in England, with only four successful breeding pairs this year.
Finally, this week just goes to show that you never know what you'll get on your bird feeder list, as we have had a whooper swan tucking in to all of our left-over fruit and veg at the visitor centre feeders. Normally a resident at Castle Semple Loch, 'Whoopy' has discovered the fruit, veg, seed and fresh grass that our feeding station has to offer and doesn't seem keen to go anywhere else for the time being!
For the most up-to-date information about sightings and interesting goings-on at Lochwinnoch, join our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RSPBLochwinnochNR)
Happy New Year to you all and we hope to see you in 2012!