Autumns approach

We are rapidly descending into Autumn, sorry summer lovers….on this date in 2019 I had my first flock of Pink-footed Geese flying high over Montrose. We will soon be graced by their presence in the next fortnight! Our resident population of Greylag Geese have been feeding in the freshly cut stubble fields around the loch.

Alert Greylag Geese, feeding 10m from the trail
Flying back to the loch to roost after having a feed

I spotted something unusual while I was scanning the Greylag flock for rings that looked rather out of place….

A Ruddy Shelduck!

We have had two Ruddy Shelduck and a Cape Shelduck on the loch the last few months, this Ruddy Shelduck has been associating with the Greylags and decided to follow them to the stubble fields! The Ruddy and Cape Shelduck have more than likely come from a captive population – these birds are popular amongst wildfowl collectors and will have escaped captivity and our now mingling with wild birds. Cape Shelduck are from South Africa and Ruddy Shelduck are from Asia – there is now a naturalised population of breeding Ruddy Shelduck in Europe that have stemmed from escapee birds.

We are seeing large numbers of Sand Martin and Swallow over the Loch. These are young birds and adults feeding up and preparing for their migration south to Africa. Worth taking a walk down to the loch in the evening and taking in these wonderful sights as they will soon be gone! I saw a Swift on the 29th August, and I have got a feeling that will be my last one!

Clouds of Sand Martin

Butterflies are becoming scarcer on the wing, but one species you can rely on to show well throughout Autumn is the Red Admiral, I had this stunning individual feeding up on the Knapweed this week.

Stunning Speciman!

Now that we are into the Autumn months, our local access guidance has changed and we now request there is no water-borne access on the loch. This is to protect the large number of wintering wildfowl that use the loch throughout the winter. This week we completed our fort-nightly WeBS counts and recorded 15,000 birds on the loch!

Loch Leven National Nature Reserve is internationally important for it’s populations of wintering wildfowl. It is designated as one of the most important wetlands on earth. Having such large numbers of birds on the loch (up to 80,000 at peak) is a massive privilege. We need to conserve these large numbers by minimising disturbance – these wintering birds are very susceptible to disturbance and this is why we prevent access on the water throughout the winter months.

Check the raft of ducks and swans in the background – a bird counters view.

On the above section alone in this weeks count we had; 8500 Tufted Duck, 2000 Coot, 2000 Teal, 350 Pochard, 400 Mute Swan and much more. Disturbance to this number of birds would be extremely detrimental!

We thank you for your continued co-operation and responsible access at Loch Leven, together we can help conserve the populations of threatened and vulnerable wetland birds and wildlife!

About SimonR

I am a keen naturalist/wildlife conservationist from North-East Scotland. I work at Loch Leven National Nature Reserve as a Reserve Officer and have a deep interest in conservation and wildlife management in Scotland. Keen Birder, naturalist and practical habitat management enthusiast.
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1 Response to Autumns approach

  1. Anne says:

    This is an interesting read.

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