One of the many, many opportunities I get from my placement here with SNH is the opportunity to experience management on different reserve, although I am based at Loch Leven NNR.
Throughout the past week I haven’t spent much time at Loch Leven at all, last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I was at Creag Meagaidh NNR (craig meggy) getting my quadbike training, however I took the opportunity to see the management that is put in place on that reserve.
One thing they have at Creag Meagidh that we don’t have at Loch Leven is Red Deer. Red Deer are our largest land mammal and therefore eat quite a lot. That’s not a problem, but when the deer population reaches high levels, they become unsustainable as the rest of the ecosystem can’t cope with all the munching of young trees and other plants.
At Creag Meagaidh there is a lot of deer control put in place and it is amazing to see the results. There has been huge regeneration of birch woodland in the Coire Ardair, Alder trees regenerating along the burn’s that run into Loch Laggan, and Oaks are even beginning to spread back to areas that they once covered.
Over the weekend I drove up to Corrie Fee NNR to join in with the ‘Clash of the Titans’ walk (watching Red Deer rutting). Corrie Fee faces to same problem of too many deer being present, but this does make it very easy to see them on the slopes and crags above.
We didn’t see any antlers locking, pushing or shoving, but we did observe a couple of stags doing a parallel walk in which they walk alongside each other, sizing one another up. If neither stag backs down then the heads turn and they begin to fight.
Also, looking up all the time has it’s benefits, especially when not one but two Golden Eagles soar over the deer that you are watching! After that experience I’m looking forwards to heading up there again next year when all the endangered arctic plants will be in bloom! But this time of year is as good as any, the deer are roaring, the eagles are soaring and the sun is still shining!
So, what’s happening at Loch Leven?
The geese are still arriving in their hundreds, and Whooper Swans should be arriving in large numbers round about now. Listen out for their loud whooping calls around the loch.
Finch flocks are forming and Goldfinches in particular are very obvious as you cycle or walk around the loch, when they all fly off the thistle heads that they’ve been feeding on. Brambling, a finch that only spends it’s winter in the UK, should be around now. Keep an eye on the RSPB feeders and you might see one!
Summer migrants have almost all departed. A handful of Swallows were still darting about Kirkgate Park and there were a couple of Wheatears on the path around the Gairney. Otherwise, it’s feeling very autumnal and even maybe a bit wintery!