Kinross Show 2018

On the banks of Loch Leven NNR the Kinross Show is held on the fields at the RSPB. We were once again involved with our stand. Sadly no water feature this year but maybe next year!

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We did crafts for the kids (and adults) including Amee’s popular Nature Plates and the badge maker put in its annual appearance. We had limited viewing from the front of the stand but we did a little bit of bird watching from with the scope along the back of Benarty crags. No sign of the Peregrine Falcon today.

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Celia (left) drew an owl on one of the nature plates.

I was quite pleased with my effort with the Nature Plate.

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I also got to the most satisfying job of arranging the fury animals again. Many thanks to all the people who came to see us. See you next year!

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Citizen Science event at Loch Leven NNR

Loch Leven NNR is a hub for a whole spectrum of different scientific monitoring much of this carried out by scientists using the latest in high tech monitoring gadgetry. However these scientists are now looking for some assistance to monitor other sites around the country and anyone can help in this great new citizen science project. Interested and want to know more? Details of how to get involved and the Loch Leven training session are on the poster below.

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Loch Leven NNR this week

I’ve been away for a week from Loch Leven NNR but not a lot has changed since I’ve been away. There are still ducks to count and Balsam to sort.

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Good news. The grass is a lot greener on St Serfs. Not that the sheep are bothered. They looks like they’ve been getting lots to eat anyway.

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I set the moth trap just once this week and the best moth did not even enter the trap . We catch these Scalloped Oak moths every year and they stand out from the crop of brown moths we usually get at this time of year.

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Spot the Red Admiral sat on the log. The underwing is exceptionally good camouflage.

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This lovely fresh big queen Red Tailed Bumble Bee is feeding up on the Woundwort before going to hibernate.

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The parents of these Shelduck juveniles has done well to rear this six at Loch Leven. Shelduck normally get hammered by the gulls here.

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Between Monday and Friday Loch Leven has seen a small influx of Teal to the site. Numbers will steadily rise now to five figures.

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These Great Crested Grebes have hatched 3 chicks. They are doing well. Another brood of big Tufted Ducks have evaded the Gulls, Pike, Foxes, Herons and Crows.

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This Swallow nest contains 4 youngsters. The Swallows failed once this year but seem to have put that trouble behind them and this bunch will be on the wing next week.

 

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Events at Loch Leven

Loch Leven NNR

We are hosting many Free events this summer! Check out our program leaflet below on the upcoming events, booking is essential either via email: lochleven_nnr@nature.scot or  telephone: 01738 458 609.

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Please make sure to wear appropriate clothing to each event. Every event is family friendly just make sure anyone under the age of 18 is accompanied by a responsible adult.

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Summer continues

We’re outside as much as we can at Loch Leven NNR at this time of year. We’re either counting broods or removing Himalayan Balsam.

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There are many broods of Tufted Ducks around Loch Leven at the moment. This bumper brood are off the Pier.

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There’s lots of lovely Common Spotted Orchids around the reserve. Some are growing where we’ve cut the verges around the trail.

This is another Common Spotted Orchid. This shows how variable they are.

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We are spending a lot of time getting rid of non native plants like Balsam. We find other plants too which are garden escapes like Creeping Jenny and Purple Toadflax.

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With the midsummer passed, we are getting the early signs of Autumn. 6 Black-tailed Godwits are flying over the molting herd of Mute Swans. Teal and Coot are beginning to appear post breeding.

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Sedge Warblers are singing around the reserve.

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This Black-headed Gull has a ring on it that I think says TUYE. I look forward to finding out where it was from.

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There are few of Painted Ladies around the reserve now. This one may well have migrated from the continent. Later on we will see fresh locally bred Painted Ladies.

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I was delighted to see my first Tree Bumblebee at Loch Leven. This recent colonist was only recorded for the first time last year at Loch Leven. I have only found dead ones.

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Visitors beware….

Loch Leven NNR

The water quality has improved a lot over the years at Loch Leven NNR but due to the long hot summer we are experiencing an algal bloom around site. These signs go up nearly every year around the loch and there is no need to panic but please observe what the signs say. This includes water users too.

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Drought

We’ve finally had a little bit of rain around Loch Leven NNR and boy we’ve needed it!

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The grass is very scorched at St Serfs. I was even discussing with our graziers that we take the sheep off St Serfs.

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Saying that they are in good condition. Though the grass is very dry on the south side of St Serfs there is plenty of green grass in the wetter parts of the island. The sheep split up into smaller groups and spend most of the day in the shade but I’m finding droppings all over the island. During the last prolonged dry spell I found the sheep eating the willow trees.

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A single bit of Birds-foot Trefoil grows amongst the scorched grass

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Plants like Creeping Spearwort and Fat Hen are doing better closer to the water

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The water is still very clear away from the edges of loch along the west shore

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We’ve been watering the hedgerows too

 

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Orchid Hunt

At Loch Leven NNR we are proud of our colony of Lesser Butterfly Orchids.

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Every year with the help of our volunteers and local plant enthusiasts we lined up across Carsehall Bog and counted all the Lesser Butterfly Orchids we could find.

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Unfortunately we left it rather late this year to count the orchids. The good weather has meant that they’re a couple of weeks early. Also the vegetation was very high which meant it was not always easy to see the plants. The final count was 207 down from 328 last year but we’re confident the numbers of orchids are still there. Next year we’ll keep a closer eye on things. Hopefully the orchids will colonise the areas of vegetation cut with the Softtrak too.

 

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Fulmar Hunt

At a place like Loch Leven NNR you’d think it rather unlikely that Fulmars once bred.

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Fulmars are a regular breeder around the British Coastline. They are present on the cliffs for much of the year where pairs of birds have a simple nesting site of a ledge where the pair will lay a single egg in May which hatches in July. Fulmars are great scavengers. I’ve seen them eating fishing discards, dead seabirds and even dead whales. They are also known to eat Zooplankton.

Their stiff shallow wing beats make them perfect ocean wonderers using the up drafts of air to their advantage.

In 1966 Fulmars were found nesting on Benarty Crags and breeding was proven in 1972. Up to 8 birds frequented the crags in the 1980s but numbers dropped and occasional birds were noted in the 1990s with the last record from up there in 2005. My only sighting of Fulmar was in September 2004 when a single bird was pecking Macrophytes around the Kirkgate.

During 2018 and 19 all seabirds in the UK are being counted. I thought I’d have a close look to see if any birds remained up on the crags.

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Kirkcaldy is our nearest sea to Loch Leven. Just about 9 miles from the crags. I wonder which route they took. I’d be flabbergasted to see a Fulmar flying across a field of corn.

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Many places for a Fulmar to breed above Loch Leven

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Benarty Hill known as the sleeping giant where Ravens and Perigrine falcons patrol

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Other nesters include Starlings, Pied Wagtails, Jackdaws and Meadow Pipits. The Red Grouse still call from the heather above ‘Go Bak Go Bak Go Bak.’. I received quizzical looks from the Roe Deer below  before they dashed away down the hill.

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Wonderful views of St Serfs Island and the RSPB Wetlands can be gained from Benarty

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Is it a surprise that Fulmars once chose to make the crags their home? Actually no. There are a few documented inland Fulmar colonies across Scotland. It’s actually more regular in Iceland. On a trip a few years ago I saw a few in the interior of the country where there were crags and ledges.

These wonderful seabirds are not under the same threats as others species like Puffin and Kittiwake of  but the loss of this albeit tiny colony is a little sad. Maybe they’ll return one day?

It is now much easier to access the hills above the RSPB. All made more possible from the path at RSPB centre. See here for details and a map of the paths.

 

 

 

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Busy times

It’s been a busy few weeks at Loch Leven NNR. I’m still catching up with all the blog content.

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We’ve had good numbers of Damselflies around the reserve. This Four-spotted Chaser Dragonfly was seen up the hill recently.

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We’ve been out doing our duck surveys. Without fully looking through the results it appears our nesting duck numbers are up.

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This Tufted Duck sat tight on it’s nest. I even managed to capture a picture.

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This is a decent sized Clutch of Tufted Ducks. Probably because of other females dumping eggs in the nest.

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The Barnacle Geese were hatching on St Serfs

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This Oystercatcher has made a comfortable nest on dried goose droppings.

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This is the same brood of Pied Wagtails from St Serfs taken 5 days apart. They fledged three days after I took the second picture.

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This Magnificent Mute Swan nest was out on St Serfs.

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Shelducks have hatched young.

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Not all the birds are fairing too well. The large gulls chicks on St Serfs are dehydrated in this hot weather. This cannibalistic Herring gulls makes sure nothing goes to waste.

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The sheep are back on St Serfs for the summer.

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Our CEO Francesca Osowska joined us at Kinross for the Tufted Duck surveys. A keen triathlete, Francesca cycled to the Kinross office as part of her #Cyclefornature. 

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We also had a BBQ. Hard to believe that there was also a spot of rain that day.

 

 

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