Amphibious cycling!

The water level has shown no sign of receding as yet. The spill way is in action at the Sluices, and the River Leven looks as high as I have ever seen it.


The spill way on the right allows water to flow directly from the loch if the level is too high.

Getting around the Heritage Trail is a challenge, and I would advise against attempting it unless you are prepared to get wet. It certainly made for challenging conditions to cycle through, as Tom and I discovered when we took our temporary Reserve Manager Therese out for a cycle round the loch yesterday.


Therese and me enjoying the ride! Photos by Tom


Slow and steady, but we didn’t want to stop at some sections!

Therese retains her post at St Cyrus NNR, and is offering support and assistance in Neil’s absence, ahead of back-fill being arranged longer term. Her first experience of the Heritage Trail was certainly eventful: knee deep floods, extensive stretches of submerged path and wind, rain, hail, snow and darkness made for an exciting journey!


Surprising that only this small tree was down over the path after the strong winds the last few days

A single tree was down over the path, which was less than expected. If any blockages are noticed around the trail do please let us know at the reserve office so that we’re able to keep the path safe and accessible where possible.


This sign seems more appropriate than ever with the level of the loch over the edge of the harbour at the moment.


Deeper than usual too!


A stunning rainbow shining over the loch this week.

A flock of 20 Red-breasted Mergansers have been lingering since the water level rose, in addition to the high numbers of Goosander currently on the loch. Often more closely associated with marine habitats, small numbers can occasionally be seen on fresh water, and they really stand out when seen amongst Goosanders with their impressive crest, red breast and pointed red bill.


3 male Red-breasted Mergansers displaying to a single female on the right.  Persistence is apparently the key…


There were 20 Red-breasted Mergansers seen from Burleigh hide on Tuesday. Look out for them amongst the closely related and more common Goosanders.



A peak count of 358 Goosander in October this season was impressive, and there’s certainly lots around still, with over 150 lingering near the Pier at present.

Also spotted earlier this week were a small flock of 21 Barnacle Geese amongst the Greylags over at Cavelstone Farm. More common on the west coast, a few pairs have bred at Loch Leven in recent years and appear to remain here throughout the winter. Our usually abundant Pink-footed Geese seem to have made a sharp exit, presumably on their way south to Lancashire or Norfolk. I’m sure it won’t be long before we see numbers rise again as they head back to their breeding grounds in Iceland.


If this were a game of ‘Guess the NNR’ you’d probably go with Caerlaverock…


20 Barnacle Geese are hanging about with the Greylags at the moment. The small breeding population at Loch Leven can be seen throughout the year.


One of the few Pink-footed Geese still at Loch Leven, in amongst the Greylags and Barnacles.

The high water presents us with other problems, including damage to the boardwalk.  Tom and I were out this morning fixing one of the boards by the office.


Tom fixing the boardwalk.

A few other images captured this week to give you a flavour of life around Loch Leven during this wet and wild spell…


The Levenmouth hide is raised up, but the boardwalk emerges from the surrounding water.


One of the coos out at RSPB


Loch Leven Castle catching the dusk sunlight


A Mute Swan wondering where the harbour has gone.


A Kestrel can be seen patrolling Kirkgate Point most evenings


Look out for lingering winter thrushes like this Redwing in the graveyard this week.

About Craig.Nisbet

Reserve Officer Loch Leven National Nature Reserve Scottish Natural Heritage
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One Response to Amphibious cycling!

  1. Dick Alderson says:

    Fantastic photos. Jeremy was predicting at the lunch last week that this El Nino year would bring a high loch level.

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