How great is that? Another whole year of brilliant fun at Loch Leven, but unfortunately only 6 more months of me being here! I’ll make them count, don’t worry.
I started my first day of the New Year well with a brilliant sunrise over the loch, all the ducks slowly waking up, Pink-footed Geese making their way off the loch and on to the neighboring fields, small songbirds warming up their pipes…
Being as chilly as it was on Thursday, some of the birds were looking for food from me! There’s a Robin at Burleigh Sands that has become very bold and was hopping around my feet expectantly waiting for food. To be honest, I had fed this Robin before but it was being particularly brazen this time. So, I answered it’s demands and fed him the sesame seeds off the top of my roll straight out of my hand.
Robins would have once followed large animals about, such as Wild Boar, looking for any worms that these animals dig up. So this is effectively what this one was doing here.
The weather was so chilly in fact, that I had a feeling one particular natural phenomenon would have occurred on the reserve, so I kept an eye on any dead twigs and branches that were by the path… And I did in fact find what I was looking for!
I’ve posted a picture of this on the NNR Facebook page before, this is hair ice. It’s caused by the correct climatic conditions and the presence of a fungus in the dead wood. If you want to know more then here’s a good article explaining it all.
Despite the very definitely wintery weather, some wildlife appears to be preparing for Spring! The first sign of this was a pair of Blue Tits that were prospecting for nest sites around the Boathouse, here seen looking into a crack in a vent. This would probably be a good nesting place as it’s likely that warm air comes through here.
There are a few trees that are getting their first leaves on show already, such as this Hawthorn by Mary’s Gate. But otherwise, Loch Leven was very much a wintery scene with Redwing feeding in the leaf litter and frost on the grass around Burleigh.
However, the cold weather wasn’t stopping the Badgers from remaining active. You can see signs of their feeding around the trail at Levenmouth. If you look at the edges of the path you may notice that the soil has been turfed over and dug in. This is probably because the Badgers find the path a lot easier to walk on than walking through the bushes, just the same as you and I, so the easiest bit of soil to get to for worms is right next to the path.
I also found a sett that had some recent activity, with fresh paw prints on a nice big sandy spoil heap.
Lastly, I think I’ve found the reason that the crows and magpies in the carpark sometimes make a really loud racket. It’s happened a few times and we’ve never found out why they were being so noisy, but it happened yesterday and the culprit was very easy to spot.
They played a bit of hide and seek around the tree trunk for a while, and you can see the squirrel was just trying to get up the tree with its pine cone! The crows will mob the squirrel because squirrels will raid nests if they get the opportunity.
Anyway, it was nice getting to see Red Squirrel just outside the office. I’ll leave you with the sunset from yesterday afternoon. Otherwise, Happy New Year and I look forwards to sharing my experiences at Loch Leven National Nature Reserve with you for the coming 6 months!