This week at Loch Leven.

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One day the weather is fantastic and next it is dismal. This is what it’s been like the last week at Loch Leven National Nature Reserve.

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The local Greylag Geese are feeding on potatoes along the trail at Orwell. When closely scrutinizing birds for leg and neck rings I spotted this bird with bright orange legs. Greylags normally have pink legs. The leg colour does vary a little and I’ve only noticed birds with such pronounced orange legs infrequently. I’ve not got a straight answer from anyone why leg colour varies so much but you occasionally see Whooper Swans with yellow feet too.

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On Monday there were a couple of Little Egrets dropped into Carsehall feeding in the ditches.

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Nice to see the gang of Goosander in the harbor catching fry and invertebrates in there.

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There are plenty of farmland birds along the trail at the moment. Linnets (top) and Reed Bunting (bottom) are in good numbers in the game crop along the south shore.

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There are still plenty sightings  of Wawings from the Kinross and Milnathort area. They can sometimes be difficult to find but usually can be seen with a bit of patients they can be spotted. Here is a chart of some of the resent sightings. Many thanks to Connor Mckinnie for the photograph and getting in touch with sightings. Numbers hit three figures this week.

Date Site Number
01-Dec Wester Balgedie 4
01-Dec Gallowhill Rd 70
01-Dec Ault Mart Rd, Milnathort 35
02-Dec Wilson Court 100
03-Dec Gallowhill Rd 20
04-Dec Montgomery St, Kinross 50
04-Dec Southerland Drive 75
05-Dec Stirling Rd, Milnathort 20
06-Dec Gallowhill Rd 12

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And finally we had our annual Christmas meal round at The Well in Scotlandwell. They did us proud and a good time was had by all.

 

 

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Check the cool wax

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At Loch Leven NNR HQ we’ve been getting lots of positive feedback from the public about the Waxwing info we’ve been putting on here. The numbers are still growing. This weekend I hit three figures with well over 100 feeding on a single tree in Wilson Court in Kinross.

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Today I nipped out on my lunch break in the electric van to get some photos in actual daylight as last weeks weather was not conducive to decent photography.

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I think the Waxwings are enjoying this weather more than last week.

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Today I could find a minimum of 75 to the west of Southerland Drive feeding in the Rowans behind the houses or occasionally dropping into the gardens.

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There is still plenty of berries all around Kinross and Milnathort.

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Unfortunately the decent light didn’t stay for long as the sun began to go down at 2pm!

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There have ben sightings reported to me from all round. On Sunday they started off along Gallowhill Rd to Lathro, then to the south end of Milnathort, then to near supermarket, down to the south of Kinross and back to Gallowhill Rd. Also 4 were seen at Loch Leven Larder on Saturday. Watch this space for further sightings.

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Waxwings and how to see them around Kinross and Milnathort

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Numbers of Waxwings around Loch Leven are now over 60 and many folk have been along to see our local flock.

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Below is a table of some of the sightings and a the blue dots on the map show where birds have been seen.

Date Site Number
02-Nov Pier 1
03-Nov Levenmouth 7
04-Nov Pier 4
18-Nov Gallowhill Rd 12
22-Nov Gallowhill Rd 22
23-Nov Kinross house 2
26-Nov Gallowhill Rd 53
27-Nov Gallowhill Rd 64
29-Nov Milnathort 50

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There is also the odd redwing hanging around joining the safety of being in a flock with the Waxwings.

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I’ll keep folk updated with sightings on the blog so it gives folk a chance to catch up with these attractive winter migrants.

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The rain cleared long enough for me to pop out and have a look at the loch at the Pier. It’s the first time we’ve seen the Lomonds in the last 48 hours.

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We welcomed colleagues from Tayside and Forth on their annual volunteer day. The weather was too poor to go out and remove gorse so we decided to make duck nest boxes instead. These will go up shortly so they get weathered and ready for next breeding season.

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I was sent north for a training course at Creag Meagaidh NNR. Though the views were not as good as they can be it was still nice to have a different backdrop.

Many thanks to local birdwatcher John Nadin for the photos of the Waxwings.

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More Waxwings

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A total of 64 have been seen along Gallowhill Rd in Kinross this afternoon.
Nervously feeding in a garden on Rowans

Still waiting to see them in decent light to get photos.

They were also feeding on Ash Keys. I’ve never seen this before.
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‘I love my Waxies’ – Waxwing updates, Kinross.

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The numbers of Waxwings are increasing in the Loch Leven and Kinross area.  This is a typical view of Waxwings, perched up above the trees they are feeding in.

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I got a chance to get some photos in between the showers this morning.

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There were a total of 22 birds today on Gallowhill Rd between Lathro and the Wimpy estate.

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The Waxwings face plenty of competition. Other birds eating the Rowan berries include, Jackdaws, Magpies, Carrion Crows, Blackbirds, Starlings, winter thrushes and these Bullfinches.

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Waxwings have landed!

At last Waxwings have finally landed in the Loch Leven/Kinross area. We’ve had various flyovers in the last couple of weeks teasing us.

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There looks to be a mini invasion of these north European birds at the moment. Numbers have been growing throughout the country in the last couple of weeks.

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For folk wishing to see the Waxwings they are currently in the Gallowhill Rd area of Kinross. There are at least 12 birds (Last influx we saw nearly 200!). Worth hanging around the road and listening for their calls as birds flyover from Lathro towards Argyle Rd.

Familiarise yourself with them call here.

Many thanks to Simon for letting me use his photo and David Alston for alerting me to these birds so I could spread the news.

More pictures of the Kinross birds here.

We’ll keep you updated with local sightings and pictures on here.

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Autumn awakening

This week began with a morning goose count as part of the National Icelandic breeding Grey Goose Count (IGC) surveys. Fortunately at the moment these early starts aren’t too unsociable with dawn breaking around 7am. By the end of the morning along with colleagues from the RSPB we had collectively counted 9,181 Pinkfeet and 434 Greylag on the reserve, not a record breaker but we have had steady numbers through the autumn so far which is always great to see. I enjoyed watching these Whooper swans as they flew past my count point. Whooper swans are also visitors from Iceland like the Pink-feet geese they come here to shelter the worst of the Icelandic winter before they return there to breed in Spring.

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Alongside the goose count there was also an important Wetland bird survey to be done. Always busy at this time of year all the usual suspects where present in abundance – Tufted duck, Teal, Pintail, Coot, Little grebe and many more. Note in the picture of Greylag geese below the band of ‘dots’ behind which are a tiny proportion of the Tufted Duck found in their thousands across the whole site.

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There are always a few more unusual species present on the loch which while not rare as such can be a bit harder to track down. One of these is the Slavonian grebe, which with a small breeding population of around 30 pairs in Scotland is  now a red listed species of conservation concern. In summer the species is one of our most attractive water birds with golden ear tufts and in winter whilst not so striking it is still a beautiful bird with distinctive red eyes shining out from its black and white plumage. For me its always a species I love to see and there were two off Burleigh sands this week. Apologies the pictures aren’t going to win any awards!!

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On Wednesday and Thursday this week we had volunteers out on the reserve helping us to clear some gorse from Carsehall Bog. Carsehall bog is a location which always gets botanists excited, we graze it every year with cattle and there are many plant species here which thrive in the wet boggy holes which make getting around the site so difficult for us humans. One of the most iconic is the Lesser Butterfly Orchid (pictured below) which we survey every year. Gorse is a species which had taken over some areas of the site and shaded out many of the flowering plants so over the years we have been working with contractors and volunteers to get it back under control. We don’t aim to remove it all as it is a great habitat in its own right but just to prevent it from taking over the whole area.

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On Wednesday our regular team were out in the worst of a day of torrential rain working with bow saws and loppers to clear gorse and then drag it across a particularly wet ditch to fire site. Well done for braving the weather again folks!

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The next day we welcomed Haggis Adventures back for one of their community give back days where their staff volunteer to do some voluntary work. These folk are usually driving around Scotland in big yellow buses but they really put their back’s into working for us and got a mountain of work done. This is the third time they’ve helped us and they’ll be back again – big thanks to you all. Although they did get the best of the weather – check out the contrast in the sky below………

 

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A big bonfire under blue skies for Haggis Adventures

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Above – before

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And after…..

Well that’s all for now folks – have a good weekend…….

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Another unnamed blog

With winter stalling, Loch Leven NNR has been enjoying temperatures of up to 13 degrees this week with the wind coming in from southern Europe.

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The Loch Leven NNR Volunteers got a day away for a change cutting the grass around the car park at Flanders Moss. They braved all weathers and completed the task.

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No reappearance of the Bearded Tits. I did check a couple of times when I was out on my rounds. The little bit of rain that we had bought the water level up a touch and might have flooded where they have been feeding. With our phragmites reed beds being so small there is fewer opportunities for them to feed around here.

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The Redpoll picture that I posted on Sunday was of a Lesser Redpoll. Here is a poor picture of a Mealy Redpoll. This is the Scandinavian Redpoll and a migrant to the UK. These birds are bigger, paler and less stripy than regular Lesser Redpolls. It was part of a 200 strong flock of Redpolls that was feeding in the Birch trees on Monday and Tuesday at Levenmouth.

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Spot the Tree Sparrows. There is a flock of nearly one hundred over at Orwell. They must have had a successful breeding season. This species has disappeared from much of its range throughout the UK but appears to be doing very well locally.

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The flock has not gone unnoticed by the local Sparrowhawk. The sound of one hundred Tree Sparrows alarming at the sound of one of these predators is quite something. He missed catching anything this time but he’ll have a good memory and I’m sure he’ll return.

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Flowering plants are thin on the ground right now but you’ll still find plenty of Yarrow out at the moment. The plant can be used as a herbal remedy to ease rheumatism.

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I spotted another 8 Waxwing flying over Sandport this morning. There are more being reported throughout Scotland. Keep and eye out. Anywhere there are Rowan berries or Rosehips. Hopefully I’ll be able to photograph some over the weekend.

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Red Squirrels are being seen daily. The track that runs along the north side of the Golf Course is popular with one lucky person spotting three together. They are trying to establish winter territories right now so scuffles are frequent.

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I’m still persisting with the moth trap. I can’t quite pack it away for the winter yet. I generally don’t have the patients with micro moths but as this one did not escape I took a couple of pictures and got it IDed. It is a Exapate congelatella. The macro moth at the bottom is my third Dark Sword Grass of the Autumn. A lovely pale one.

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The Polaris has been putting a shift in moving the bales. We’ve still got bales to pick up from around the reserve.

 

 

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Squirrels, Jays and Bearded Tits

Yet again there is lots of Wildlife to see at Loch Leven NNR.

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It’s been a remarkable year for Red Squirrels around Loch Leven. They are easy to find in the surrounding woodlands right now

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I think this squirrel is trying to hide!

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Sometimes they can be quite curious. We spend time removing Grey Squirrels which compete for food and carry the deadly squirrel pox virus. The work us and others have done locally is really paying off. It took me nearly 10 years to see my first here and now I see them almost daily.

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Levenmouth Woods is lovely right now and full of birds.

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After looking at Redwings last week, I managed to capture a shot of a Fieldfare also. There are many about. They are still pouring into the UK from Scandinavia. Listen out for their chacking call.

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This week we recorded the second instance of Bearded Tits at Loch Leven. At least three could be heard making their distinct ‘ping’ calls from the reedbeds in the east. Sadly I could not get a decent look or a photo. I will be listening out this wek and try and capture a shot. Read here about the last time they were recorded here at the loch.

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It’s not the greatest photo but this Long-tailed Duck was seen at Findatie with the Tufted Ducks. After a few years of not seeing them on the loch they have returned to being a regular winter feature with the other winter refuge species.

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I dropped into see the bird ringers to see what they had been catching for research purposes. To my delight they’d caught a Jay. It’s not often you get a chance to see this shy species close up. They had also trapped a Redpoll as well as many other common birds. All birds were ringed and released unharmed.

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This huge Birch Bracket fungus was growing on a dead limb at Levenmouth. It’s the same size as my size 9 wellingtons.

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I’m still plugging away with the Mothrap. I think we started off the year with a Satellite (top).  Also A few Spruce Carpets (middle) and many NovemberMoths. (bottom)

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The water clarity is wonderful right now. Look carefully in the middle of the picture is a Duck Mussel. You can see the shapes of their track is the sand. This one is stuck on the edge in shallow water and easy food for the otters.

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The giveaway clue there are lots of geese about.

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There are still over 10000 geese using the reserve. Here they are flying in from the south east.

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Many thanks to all who turned up for my morning goose walk. There were many geese on show. We didn’t quite get the big lift of birds I was hoping but it was pleasant watching the birds leave the loch heading out to the fields to feed.

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I think I was tired as I didn’t manage a single straight horizon all morning on the goose walk!

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The first Waxwing was reported on Friday flying around The Pier and on Sunday lunchtime I saw 4 fly over Kinross. Hopefully they’ll be some to photograph this week,. We will keep you up to date on here.

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It’s gone cold

Winter has arrived at Loch Leven NNR as it has through much of the UK.

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There has been some wonderful early morning scenes around the loch.

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There is less scope for plant hunting at the moment but there are still some nice plants to be found in the agricultural fields. Field Pansies, Scentless Mayweed and Corn Marigold are in flower. There is a fine golden swathe going through the fields at Orwell right now. The Marigold is an interesting plant as it’s not a true native of the UK and probably arrived from the continent when grain started to be grown in ancient times. It used to be far more abundant but modern day agriculture is less sympathetic to it.

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We’re finishing the path edges for this year. We had two mowers out last week with the volunteers.

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Unfortunately we still find a lot of litter around the trail. We pick up quite a lot. This coffee cup was just down from Loch Levens Larder. Slugs have started to eat the paper part of the cup but there is still plastic in the lid which will take years to disappear. Please dispose of your litter responsibly and try and carry a reusable cup.

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I’ve still managed a bit of moth trapping. Two new for this year are Scarce Umber and Turnip. We also caught our first Dark Sword Grass of the year. This species is a migrant.

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The light from the trap also attracted this Diving Beetle to a tray with rain water in it. I tentatively identified it as Colymbetes fuscus.

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It was great to be able to welcome a wonderful group of Syrian young people to Loch Leven last Sunday for an opportunity to enjoy the great countryside Scotland has to offer, glad to know they enjoyed it, we certainly did. Hopefully they’ll be able to return in the future with friends or family. Thanks for the help from Anna at RSPB and Jo from PKC.

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There is still a huge raft of Tufted Ducks of Burleigh. In with these birds are Scaup and Slavonian Grebes. The Tufted duck on the lower picture is watching a Kestrel fly over.

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In the last week or so there has been a huge influx from continental Europe of Redwings a smaller numbers of Fieldfares.  This Redwing was tucking into Holly berries at the Kirkgate.

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We are keeping our eyes and ears open for Waxwings around Kinross. They are fond of Rowan berries. We’ll keep you updated if we see any.

 

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