My last day…

 

This blog post is unfortunately going to be a hello… and goodbye. The reason for the lack of posts over the past few weeks is that I was in Shetland for 3 weeks and then when I returned it was summer, and everything got quite busy! Also, Jeremy said his computer didn’t let him upload his post… (excuses excuses…)

And it’s goodbye because this is my second last day, tomorrow being the last, of being the student placement at Loch Leven. After this I’ve got a few adventures planned over the summer and then I will return to Scotland’s Rural College (Aberdeen campus) to finish my degree in Countryside Management. After that… we’ll see where life takes me.

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Loch Leven from Benarty Hill

Instead of reminiscing over my entire year at Loch Leven, I’ll just stick to a normal blog post which, in a way, will reflect on my time at the loch as a normal day is what each day has been… sort of.

On Monday we had our Wetland Bird Survey to get done, and the birds are starting to change their ways already. The breeding season is coming to an end and duck broods are making their way around the edges of the loch with their parents leading the way. Non-breeding Greylag Geese are flying about quite a lot, from fields to loch to fields to loch. We’ve also seen a bit of wader passage as the post breeders make their way down through Scotland after breeding in Scandinavia and Iceland.

We’ve also got the Ospreys back to being pretty easy to see. If you pop along to Burleigh Sands and have a look out from there, there can be as many as three birds all fishing at once. These numbers will build as birds from further afield and also this year’s youngsters join in with the Loch Leven fishing.

I actually took that photo on the evening of our Burleigh botany walk, which was a very nice evening! We sauntered about for a couple of hours just admiring and identifying the flowers that were out on the grassland, by the path and around the ponds. It always helps when the weather’s nice! One of the highlights of the walk was the Common Spotted-orchid which is pictured below.

By shear coincidence, our next event is the Osprey walk which will be held on the 17th August from 6-8pm.

Speaking of orchids, after being in Shetland for a few weeks I had missed out on a few things, but one thing I really didn’t want to miss out on was the Lesser Butterfly Orchids. Fortunately I just caught them before they started looking rubbish!

With all of these beautiful plants out it’s unfortunate that there’s one plant in particular that really causes us a bit of bother. This plant is Himalayan Balsam. I suspect it’s been discussed on this blog before, but if you wish to find out more about why we dislike it so much then see here.

In order to control the spread of this non-native, invasive plant, we head out with our volunteers armed to the teeth with brushcutters, weed slashers and good old fashioned leather gloves. The brushcutter comes in handy for large areas that have been completely overwhelmed by balsam. In areas where there are fewer plants we tend to just pull them out of the ground, but in order to stop the pulled plants from growing again once we put them on the ground we either hang them in branches or put them on the path and stamp on them.

So, sorry about the mess, but it’s for the good of the wildlife that we all enjoy around the loch!

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Young Roe Deer helping with balsam-bashing

I had quite a nice first day back with the volunteers last week as we were treating them to a trip to the Isle of May. I know the Isle of May definitely isn’t Loch Leven, but I’ll just post a few pics from that day anyway… (check out the Isle of May NNR blog)

Insect life appears to have picked up a lot over the 3 weeks I was away, with loads of Ringlet butterflies in the grassland, damselflies hunting about around ponds and at the lochside, and bumblebees keeping themselves busy. We haven’t had any dragonflies at the loch yet (as far as I know) but I’ve included a pic of a Golden-ringed Dragonfly from a wee trip to Perthshire, just because it’s a stunner!

Well… I guess I should wrap it up there. But before leaving you with my last blog post for Loch Leven NNR, I’d just like to say a huge thank you to a lot of people, including..:

  • Jeremy, Neil and Lesley, the Loch Leven team who have kept me busy and learning throughout my time here, as well as Therese who was here for the first 5 months of my placement.
  • All of the volunteers; Wednesday vols, insect surveyors, and groups who have come for just a day or two. It’s been great working with you all and I suspect I’ll still be working with you as I’ll return to the loch from time to time. (And special mention to Dave as he washed my car yesterday as a farewell present)
  • Everybody I’ve worked with within SNH, from other reserve staff to the people behind the scenes in the various offices across Scotland to the people who’ve worked in the office with me in Kinross.
  • Everybody I’ve worked with outside of SNH; RSPB, Historic Scotland, CEH, Kinross Estate, and many other organisations!
  • The other student placements from Tentsmuir, Stirling, Dumfries, St Cyrus, Creag Meagaidh and Beinn Eighe. It’s been a brilliant year with you guys and I’m sure we’ll all keep in touch!
  • All of the visitors to Loch Leven who made my year interesting, rewarding and more than worthwhile!

Click here for a big compilation of photos I’ve taken of Loch Leven.

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Slightly squint horizon…

Thank you goes to you as well, the reader, for reading my blog posts. Hopefully my inconsistency in posting hasn’t been an issue. I’ll maybe manage to convince Jeremy to let me guest blog after I’ve left as I’m going to become a Wednesday volunteer.

Of course, it’s not just people that made my time here great, the wildlife is absolutely spectacular at Loch Leven. I know I said I wouldn’t reminisce… but it’s difficult not to after having worked at this incredible place. Below are a few of my favourite bits from my year with SNH at Loch Leven National Nature Reserve.

That doesn’t sum it all up but I’ll leave it there anyway. All that’s left to do now is say cheers one more time. So without further ado, cheers!

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