A busy week and a fond farewell!

This week saw the final badger watching experience taking place and the wildlife on the reserve did not disappoint. Not only did we get a fantastic view of five badgers grooming and playing at the sett, but we were also treated to roe deer grazing in the woods, bats hunting beside the river and even a kingfisher speeding by the river in the last rays of evening sun. Definitely finishing the wildlife watching season with a bang!

On Saturday we also had a Victorian walk with our guide Lady Geraldine Lockhart-Ross, taking in the features on the reserve from the days when poets, artists and the aristocracy would visit the waterfalls and wander the woods of the Bonnington Estate. These days the reserve is accessible for everyone to enjoy, whether just going for a walk along the Clyde or attending one of our events. We also have different groups visiting us and on Friday I was lucky enough to take part in a native tree identification course on the reserve run with the Clyde and Avon Valley Partnership. Despite the rain I was able to learn a lot about the native species present in our woodlands so will be out putting my knowledge and identification skills to the test before autumn sets in and the leaves start to fall.

A beautiful red admiral butterfly from our tree nursery © Alex Kekewich

A beautiful red admiral butterfly from our tree nursery © Alex Kekewich

Even though summer feels like it is drawing to a close there is still plenty of wildlife out on the reserve. While carrying out butterfly surveys I have been lucky enough to see some fantastic Red Admirals and Small tortoiseshells and there are also plenty of bumblebees visiting the late summer flowers and grasshoppers chirruping from the undergrowth.  Even at the end of summer a walk through the reserve is bound to result in a sighting of some interesting and exciting species.

Unfortunately it is also my last week as the Falls of Clyde seasonal ranger. It has been a pleasure working on such a fantastic reserve and I have enjoyed every minute of it, from staying in the caravan over the peregrine breeding season, leading groups on the badger watches and guided walks and of course updating the Falls of Clyde blog! I will definitely be visiting the reserve again, but for now it’s off to pastures new!

Many thanks!

Alex Kekewich – Falls of Clyde Seasonal Ranger

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Raving About Ravens!

On my patrols through the reserve I am always on the look out for any wildlife and there is always plenty to be seen, including plenty of bird species. Birds are some of the most loved and most commonly seen species throughout the towns and countryside. From our resident peregrine falcons and mewing buzzards to the herons and mallards on the river there are always birds flying around the reserve. This week I have been fortunate enough to spot one of my favorite bird species while out in the woods: the common raven (Corvus corax).

The common raven (Corvus corax) © Margaret Holland

The common raven (Corvus corax) © Margaret Holland

These fantastic corvids are the largest in the crow family and have a distinctive ‘cronk’ call that sets them apart from the carrion crows and rooks that are more commonly seen. They have a huge distribution and can be found from North America to the islands of the Pacific and from the Arctic to the Sahara. Ravens are extremely intelligent and curious birds with some of the largest brains of all bird species and amazing problem solving skills that help them survive. In viking mythology ravens were thought to be helpers of Odin, the god of wisdom and ruler over the other Norse gods.

Last year we had a pair of ravens nesting in the gorge down river from the peregrine watch site and though the falcons did not seem to mind their neighbors I would often hear the ravens calling from the tops of the pine trees and spy their black silhouettes against the sky.  I always find it magical to see them soaring overhead, performing amazing aerial acrobatics in their breeding pairs or juveniles playing with each other. These fantastic birds make any walk hugely enjoyable and a sighting of them is truly memorable.

Bye for now and keep an eye on the skies!

Alex Kekewich – Falls of Clyde Seasonal Ranger

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Victorian Guided Tour this Saturday!

This Saturday 30th August at 2pm you can go back in time with our costumed guide, Lady Geraldine Ross. She will guide you through Bonnington estate, now fondly known as the Falls of Clyde wildlife reserve. She will regale you with tales about the famous artists who visited in the 19th Century along with interesting yarns about the medicinal properties of wildflowers to the tasty delights of the plants found here.

Enjoy an afternoon partaking in a guided walk through the reserve with our Victorian guide Lady Geraldine Lockhart-Ross © Scottish Wildlife Trust

Enjoy an afternoon partaking in a guided walk through the reserve with our Victorian guide Lady Geraldine Lockhart-Ross © Scottish Wildlife Trust

 

The walk is funded by the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape partnership and is FREE for all. Suitable for all the family, this walk lasts two hours and can be booked by phoning our visitor centre on 01555 665 262. You will need to wear sturdy footwear and clothing for the outdoors (fingers crossed you won’t need a waterproof!). It will start at our visitor centre in the village of New Lanark and I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the reserve and its history.

Lady Geraldine is a marvelous guide and previous comments from her walks have always been glowing in praise. Of course Lady Geraldine is rather lacking in technological knowledge so I would try not to bamboozle her with your mobile phone or camera! She has lived here with her family for many years and many of you may have heard of her mother, Lady Mary who is responsible for the installation of steps down to Corra Linn, a well beyond the peregrine watch site and the iron bridge at Bonnington Linn.

Our peregrines are still regularly seen on the reserve along with herons, dippers, kingfishers, badgers, foxes, deer and even a hare near the meadow. Now that August is coming to an end you will also see that the leaves are just beginning to turn from their luscious green into their autumnal shades.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger

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Bats At Craignethan Castle

If you missed our bat and moth night at Corra Castle we will be holding a similar event at Craignethan Castle in the Clyde Valley. This is a brilliant opportunity to not only investigate the castle and find out about its 500 year old history, but to also have a chance to learn more about these amazing night flying mammals and hopefully see them in action!

Craignethan Castle is a fantastic location to spot bats on a clear evening © Historic Scotland

Craignethan Castle is a fantastic location to spot bats on a clear evening © Historic Scotland

Bats flying from a ruined castle may be reminiscent of a horror film but these amazing locations provide a perfect location for many species of these wonderful mammals to roost. If you are nearby in the evening when there is still a bit of light you may be lucky enough to spot pipistrelles or Daubenton’s bats emerging from their hiding places in the stonework to hunt insects in the woods and over rivers or streams. This fantastic wildlife watching event will provide the perfect opportunity to visit this fascinating historical site and also learn more about the current winged occupants of the castle’s dark chambers!

As this is a site owned by Historic Scotland we will be running this event in partnership with them, so members of either Historic Scotland or the Scottish Wildlife Trust get a 10% discount for this event. Tickets are priced at £6 for adults, £4 for children and £5 for concessions. To book places please phone our office on 01555 665 262.

Hope to see you there!

Alex Kekewich – Falls of Clyde Seasonal Ranger

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Bloomin’ Heather

It always amazes me how you can go for a walk in Scotland and after half an hour you feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. I went out walking on Saturday to try and tick off a few more Munros and thankfully although it was very windy, the rain held off. As soon as I stepped foot out of the car I noticed all the heather. Obviously, it is always there, but it really comes into its own at this time of year. The dainty heather flowers have the magical ability to turn the hills of Scotland purple. Even without the sun shining, this scrubby little plant really brightened up the view.

Heather (c) Laura Preston

Heather (c) Laura Preston

Although a nightmare to walk through; it proves to have many medicinal properties and is full of nutrients and anti-oxidants. It contains the anti-inflammatory, quercitin, which can be used in treating inflammation of the gut, rheumatoid arthritis and even cancer. Heather can also be used in herbal tea, which can induce sleepiness and calm the nerves. The flowers and shoots used to be dried and put in bedding for the same effect.

The latin for heather is Calluna vulgaris, vulgaris means common and calluna comes from the Greek, to sweep clean. Traditionally people would have made a type of broom known as a besom with the stems of the heather plant. Heather isn’t only useful to people, it is also the food plant for the aptly named heather beetle and the small emperor moth.

It is not necessary to head to the highlands for the scent of this beautiful flower, we have it here at the Falls of Clyde and it can be found in the surrounding upland areas.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger

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