Habitat management and surreality

Due to lacking any internet connection in the office on Friday I couldn’t post up the 2nd of the week’s blog posts. However, I’ve made the effort to come in today so you don’t all miss out on what’s been happening over the course of the week!


Going all the way back to Tuesday, we had 35 Waxwings from the office, again in the tall Poplars at the back of the car park. Otherwise:

  • 8, Muirs, 7 December
  • 22, Sutherland Drive, 8 December
  • 5, Kirkgate Park, 10 December
  • 150 over Burleigh Sands, 10 December

Photo: Jeremy Squire


Jeremy also had a pretty good day’s birding on Monday: 1 Little Egret, 6 Long-tailed Ducks, 2 Shelduck, Smew, 3 Greenshank and the White-tailed Eagle.

On Tuesday Jeremy was being shown how to use what I’m calling the mechanical elephant (a Softrak) which we will be using to cut grass and chip wood on the reserve in the coming year. It’ll be a great help to us when it comes to next autumn! We’re in the process of removing all the bales from the grasslands around the reserve at the moment, with Burleigh being cleared by Jeremy yesterday.


Photo: Jeremy Squire

Wednesday with the volunteers was a highly productive day! We were back down near Carsehall just along from where the Loch Leven’s Larder path joins the heritage trail, where we’d been last week cutting down the willows. This week Neil was present and knew exactly what he wanted and had brought his chainsaw with him!

We worked throughout the day cutting down the willow trees along the side of the path and laid them in a nice long line to hopefully create a nice, brash hedge. This is a great habitat for all sorts of bugs and beasties which will then go on to fuel the rest of the food chain, all the way up to Buzzards and Red Foxes.

The stumps that we have left will grow new stems which will need attention once they get to a certain size and we’ll be continuing to create this brash hedge all the way along this length of the path!

On Thursday, between other little jobs around the reserve, I made a wee diversion to the Black Woods near the Levenmouth Hide in order to remove a branch that was hanging from a bit of bark over the path. The branch is gone now and so are a few others that looked like they might cause problems in the future. How did I remove branches that hung 6+ metres above the path? See this post on the NNR Facebook page to find out!


Cutting down the branch gave me an insight into what lives up there in the branches. Obviously I don’t mean Red Squirrels and songbirds as I can see them without knocking the branches out from beneath their feet. I’m talking about the mosses and lichens that thrive on the damp branches and brilliant air quality that we have at Loch Leven NNR.

Here’s a selection of the ones I photographed. I’ve tried identifying them all but I’m a bit rusty, haven’t worked on my moss and lichen ID since last winter!

To finish off, a somewhat surreal moment as I step out the office to see a Mute Swan taking a stroll across the car park. To add to the surreality (that’s a word now) of it, Jeremy comes out the office, picks up the swan and wanders across to the harbor and puts it back.

Speaking of swans, we’ve read 3 rings recently. One was on that carpark crusader: light green SFH. There’s one in the harbor regularly: orange 3DDX, and I spotted one from the Factory Hide: green IPD. We’ll get the details of those swans at some point!

In the meantime, here’s Jeremy holding a remarkably laidback swan.



This is orange 3DDX, regularly in the harbor bullying all the other swans


We made the news! The BBC have covered the discovery of Cytherissa lacustris (the wee ostracods that Prof. David Horne did a guest blog about a few weeks back) in Loch Leven. See here to read the article and see here to read David’s guest blog.


Dave taking samples


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