What is happening at the Falls of Clyde?

This time of year is a bit crazy for the Ranger team here at the Falls of Clyde. That’s partly because the team currently consists of one (that would be me) but next week there will be four of us! This has involved what seems like endless interviewing to get the most suitable people! This year we will have a Seasonal Ranger, Assistant Seasonal Ranger (Community Jobs Scotland) and Assistant Peregrine Ranger (voluntary internship). Whilst we have been recruiting this new team we have also had all hands on deck getting the Peregrine Watch Site set up for our launch event on the 21st March.

Peregrine Chick (c) Chas Moonie

Peregrine Chick (c) Chas Moonie

Although I haven’t seen the peregrines recently, I am not too concerned, as they tend to disappear at this time of year. I like to think they are on holiday, having a break before all the real work begins. Many of you who have followed the story of our peregrines will know that we sent our unhatched egg away to be tested. I finally managed to get the results a couple of weeks ago and sadly they were rather inconclusive. Our female peregrine is perfectly healthy (we wondered if her diet of (primarily) feral pigeons might have led to her taking in some dodgy chemicals) and the egg was infertile. Peregrines tend to lay 3-4 eggs and normally the first one will be infertile. It is quite common for this to happen and as we only had one egg we cannot confirm whether our birds are fertile or not. So, the good news is that if our peregrines manage to lay more than one egg this year, we may get chicks!

If you would like to volunteer at the peregrine watch site please email me at fallsofclyde@scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
Help support our vital work and join us today!

Posted in Birds, Peregrines | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

National Nest Box Week – 14-21 February

The 14th-21st February is National Nest Box Week! If you would like to receive an information pack with advice on nest boxes – making, buying, choosing a location, maintenance and reducing risk from predators then go to the BTO website (bto.org.uk) and on the front page you will see a link to NNBW. National Nest Box Week is all about putting up a nest box in your local area to help increase the number of suitable nesting spaces for birds.

Blackbird Nest (c) Lizzie Wilberforce

Blackbird Nest (c) Lizzie Wilberforce

Anyone can take part and you don’t have to get your box put up straight away. January is the latest I would recommend anyone clean out or maintain an existing nest box as you may find a bird has already taken up residence. Bird Protection Law permits the cleaning out of nests between 1 August and 31 January. Once you have a box up you can take part in the Nest Box Challenge. You can register online and you then record all the details, where it is located, how many eggs, how many chicks, etc. You don’t need a bird nesting in your box to be able to register. Sometimes it’s just as useful to find out what birds aren’t nesting then what birds are!

With all this talk of nest boxes, it really feels as if spring is on its way. Out on the reserve I was delighted to hear the unmistakable repetitive call of a song thrush, I heard the otters on the river a few days ago although wasn’t lucky enough to see them and I saw tiny buds appearing on the trees in our nursery. For me though, the real start to the year is when our seasonal staff appear, which is only a couple of weeks away!

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
Help support our vital work and join us today!

Posted in Birds | Tagged , , , , , , , , , |

See otters at the Falls of Clyde!

Over the past couple of months we have been seeing otters on an almost weekly basis, outside the Falls of Clyde Visitor Centre windows! I have worked for the Scottish Wildlife Trust for just over 4 years and I can safely say I have never seen them as often, here or anywhere else. Otters can be very quiet elusive creatures and I am sure there are times when they pass our windows and we never even notice. Who knows they might be out there right now!

Otter (c) Elliot Smith

Otter (c) Elliot Smith

Often at this time of year they will alert us to their presence with a call that sounds very much like a squeaky wheel on a bike. These are the cubs, calling for their mother to come and give them some food. For the past few years our female otter has managed to raise two cubs. Often they will be on the bank side calling while she is in the water catching a tasty trout for them to eat.

Seeing the signs of otters is far simpler than seeing the animals themselves. Along riverbanks and waterways, look for five-toed footprints (about 6-7cm long) and droppings or ‘spraints’. Otters leave spraints in prominent places, such as fallen trees, weirs and bridges, as ‘scented messages’, helping them to find mates and defend territories. They contain visible fish bones and have a distinctive, pleasant smell, reminiscent of Jasmine tea!

Although it’s not the easiest time of year to spot wildlife, in the past month we have also seen a badger, sparrowhawk, dippers, a raven, a variety of woodland birds and footprints from roe deer and foxes. We have also seen snowdrops and I’m sure over the next few weeks other wildflowers will begin to bloom as well.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
Help support our vital work and join us today!

Posted in Mammals | Tagged , , , , , , , |

Did you know – Moles dig tunnels over 70m in length!

Over the past few weeks I have been noticing a lot of molehills, now whether this is because they are more obvious in the snow or the moles are more active at this time of year, I’m not sure!

Mole (c) Bas Kers

Mole (c) Bas Kers

What I do know is that the best time for worms is autumn and winter and when there are lots of worms around. Moles will bite off their heads and store them in little underground worm larders. Here at the Falls of Clyde, the moles have to compete with our badgers who not only share the same primary food source but they are also a formidable predator to the wee mole.

Moles continuously search for food, running along their network of tunnels, which can often reach lengths of over 70m and can vary in depth from just under the surface to up to 70cm deep. Whilst running through their tunnels and digging news ones, earthworms, beetle larvae, slugs etc. will fall from the walls and be gobbled up by the mole. It’s very clever really; making a trap for them to fall into and being able to hoover them up as you go!

At this time of year you are unlikely to see them, in the colder weather they tend to burrow deeper, so it is odd that I have seen lots of molehills on the reserve. Maybe it is because the badgers are sleeping a lot more, the moles feel safer! The best time to see them is in the summer when the young moles are looking for their own territory. They will come above ground as it is easier to travel longer distances. They will generally do this at night but will sometimes come out during the day.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
Help support our vital work and join us today!

Posted in Mammals | Tagged , , , , , , , |

Falls of Clyde – Wildlife Birthday Parties

Wildlife-Birthday-Parties

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
Help support our vital work and join us today!

Posted in Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |