A bat, a squirrel and a Hen Harrier

I’ve had a busy couple of weeks catching up with some local access guidance monitoring during the ‘tattie’ holidays, and the weather has been very kind to all those families with kids off school for the fortnight.  It’s also meant that I’ve been out and about in all corners of the reserve, which has led me to some fantastic wildlife encounters.

This bat (suspect it's a Daubenton's- known to feed on the water surface here) was first spotted by a member of the public along the River Leven, clinging to the wall.

This bat (suspect it’s a Daubenton’s- known to feed on the water surface here) was first spotted by a member of the public along the River Leven, clinging to the wall.

As we watched, it fell from the wall, and struggled frantically to swim back to safety...

As we watched, it fell from the wall, and struggled frantically to swim back to safety…

It made it, and found a handy crack further down river to cling to, where it remained for the rest of the afternoon.

It made it, and found a handy crack further down river to cling to, where it remained for the rest of the afternoon.

I paid a visit to RSPB Loch Leven last week, and was delighted with views of a Greenshank, Slavonian Grebe and a Peregrine which flew overhead.  In the hide I met a local photographer named Alex Gilfillan, who has been visiting the loch for well over 30 years, and has a vast back catalogue of images he’s collected during his time here.  In conversation, we began discussing Hen Harriers, as we had just conducted the first survey of the winter for this species at Loch Leven last Monday.  It turns out that Alex had great views of them earlier this month, and agreed to allow me to share his images on the blog.  We recorded no harriers during our survey, but one was seen the following day at RSPB, and I spotted one flying over Carsehall on Saturday- my first for Loch Leven!  Alex’s pictures (seen below) are much better than mine though!

Hen Harriers are usually irregular visitors to Loch Leven..

(Image by Alex Gilfillan) Hen Harriers are usually irregular visitors to Loch Leven..

...but there have been multiple sightings so far this Autumn.

(Image by Alex Gilfillan) …but there have been multiple sightings so far this Autumn.

Perhaps a winter roost may be established here, which would of course lead to more sightings of this fantastic raptor.

(Image by Alex Gilfillan) Perhaps a winter roost may be established here, which would of course lead to more sightings of this fantastic raptor. 

Elsewhere at RSPB, once the visitor centre had closed I popped up for a quick look around the picnic area, and as I peered through the squirrel hole you’ll never guess what I saw!

a squirrel through the squirrel hole!

a squirrel through the squirrel hole!

A couple of Red Squirrels have become regular visitors to the feeders in recent weeks.

A couple of Red Squirrels have become regular visitors to the feeders in recent weeks.

They are particularly partial to peanuts, and despite there being squirrel feeders available, they seem intent on foraging the hard way.

They are particularly partial to peanuts, and despite there being squirrel feeders available, they seem intent on foraging the hard way.

Red Squirrel sightings are becoming more regular locally, and this area is particularly interesting as it is shared by the invasive Grey Squirrel.

Red Squirrel sightings are becoming more regular locally, and this area is particularly interesting as it is shared by the invasive Grey Squirrel.

Red Squirrel conservation depends on assistance from the public, and continued efforts to control Grey Squirrel populations, both to prevent displacement through competition, and to ensure that any potential spread of the deadly squirrelpox virus, carried by greys and contracted by reds, is prevented.  Please report any sightings of Red or Grey Squirrels in your area by visiting the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels website.

 

About Craig.Nisbet

Reserve Officer Loch Leven National Nature Reserve Scottish Natural Heritage
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