Our work here
9 July 2013
The RSPB Lochwinnoch nature reserve is part of the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park. It forms part of the one of the largest wetlands in south-west Scotland, and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
The reserve includes two shallow lochs (Barr Loch and Aird Meadow Loch), together with their surrounding water meadows, marshes and woodlands.
The RSPB manages all these habitats for the benefit of their wildlife and the local community.
Wetlands and woodlands
The reserve has a rich wetland biodiversity. Plants include uncommon species such as tufted loosestrife, creeping yellow cress and butterfly orchids. Birds include breeding water rails, grasshopper warblers, reed buntings, and wintering whooper swans.
Recent work has enhanced the reserve with new wetland habitats for all these species, and also brought the wildlife spectacle closer to the visitor centre.
We have also managed the surrounding woodlands for conservation and visitor interest. These new improvements have brought a number of species to the reserve, including wood warbler, whitethroat, osprey and yellow wagtail.
Lochwinnoch is perfectly situated for visitors, lying close to the major population centre of greater Glasgow, and with easy access by public transport and the National Cycle Network.
We aim to increase visitor numbers to 40,000 per year by maintaining and improving our facilities. These currently include a shop, a ground viewing area and an observation tower, with trails, picnic tables, a wildlife garden and a pond-dipping area outside.
Plans are underway to carry out refurbishment of the visitor building to improve the visitor experience.
The reserve is also a Living Classroom, providing outdoor learning for schools. We aim to develop this further and to get more local people involved.
What we've been doing
Recently we have had major habitat works completed around the reserve. This ambitious redevelopment has been a great success in making Lochwinnoch a better place for both wildlife and people.
The £220,000 project won 100 per cent funding from Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd and gained planning consent from the local council and further consents from Scottish National Heritage and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
The project has started the process of restoring much of the reserve's wetland system to how it would have been over 100 years ago, before agricultural pressures led to dramatic changes in this landscape.
Part of the work has involved re-connecting the Millbank to the Barr Loch, which is the first part of returning the reserve's water and wetlands to a more natural state (in line with the Water Framework Directive).
On the Aird Meadow, 9,000 tons of earth have been shifted to the northern side of the loch to create new habitats, and new channels have been cut in front of our visitor centre.
By bringing the water closer, we've given visitors fantastic views of the wildlife, even without binoculars. At the same time, it's created an extensive new feeding area for a wide range of birds such as lapwings, common sandpipers, snipe and oystercatchers. We've also seen an otter swimming up the new channel.
This is just one of the exciting new improvements at the reserve. We have future plans for a new, improved visitor centre, ultimately creating a perfect home for Scotland's nature.
Please contact us if you would like to find out more about the project, or pop into the visitor centre and chat to our staff.
We want to hear what you think
Nature never stands still at Lochwinnoch, and neither do we and the work mentioned above is only the beginning of a programme of various improvements which we hope to progress over the next few years.
But before we make a start, we need to find out a bit more about our audience. That's you!
You might see them in the reserve visitor centre carrying out questionnaires, or they might stop you in the street if you live in the local area. You might even be asked to attend a focus group.
If you do see them, please have a chat and tell them your opinions, as we want as many people as possible to take part. If you have any questions at all, please contact the reserve.
How you can help
Join the RSPB and support our work.
For more information