Falls of Clyde Events – May & June

This Saturday 23rd May at 1pm the Falls of Clyde Ranger Team are leading a guided wildlife walk to our Peregrine Watch Site (the walk will last approximately 2hrs). This is part of the Clyde and Avon Valley Landscape Partnership’s FREE Spring Walks Festival. There are a number of walks happening between Friday 22nd to Tuesday 26th May across the Clyde and Avon Valley so there is sure to be one near you!

Luxury Badger (c) Darin Smith

Badger (c) Darin Smith

From strolls around historic towns and majestic estates, to more secluded rambles along precipitous ancient wooded gorges and even an Open Day at an orchard; the walks are a great way to get to know your local landscape and its unique characteristics better. The walks are free but booking is essential at www.cavlp.eventbrite.co.uk or by calling 01555 663 430. Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.

Last weekend we held our first badger watch of the year for a group of our dedicated volunteers. This is the first time we’ve watched the badger sett since last August and we were lucky enough to see 5 badgers! We do a range of badger watches catering for everyone, from Family Badger Watches with a clue trail for children as young as 5 years old to our Luxury Badger Safaris where you are driven to the sett. We also have our normal badger watches for adults and children (8+ years).

The badgers we saw at the weekend were showing a variety of different behaviours including snuffling about in the undergrowth for food, taking out old bedding from their sett and grooming. They graced us with their presence on and off for over 30minutes! There is a tab at the top of the Falls of Clyde blog called ‘Events 2015’ that has all the dates and booking information if you would like to find out more.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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Luxury Badger Safari

Badger watching goes first class! Be escorted by the Ranger in their 4X4 to within 5 minutes of the sett. Enjoy an increased chance of seeing badgers and other nocturnal wildlife. Be pampered with blankets, after watch drinks and a souvenir. Can’t make the date? Contact the Ranger to arrange your own group luxury badger safari on a date that suits you. Numbers limited to 4 people, over 12 years only. Booking essential, cost £25 per person. For more information and to book call 01555 665 262.

Laura Preston – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Ranger
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Falls of Clyde Recent Sightings 12th-18th May


The first flurry of fledgling birds were spread across the reserve with three hungry dipper chicks keeping their parents busy at the Mill Weir (12th) and another set of dipper chicks heard below the Peregrine Watch throughout. Grey wagtails also had fledged young at Bonnington Linn (16th), three song thrush chicks hopped around the boardwalk (15th) and young robins zipped across the road in New Lanark.

On the migrant bird front our first swift record of the year consisted of a single bird flying over Bonnington Pavilion (15th). A common whitethroat was heard singing upstream of Bonnington Weir (12th). There was also an obvious midweek arrival of blackcap with a number of new territories established across the reserve.

scarce prominent

Scarce Prominent was a good catch in the moth trap during the week (C) Adam Jones

Top mammal sighting of the week has to go to five badgers which showed well on our volunteer badger watch (16th), with one individual particularly busy collecting bedding material throughout the watch. The group also enjoyed listening to lots of bat activity along the boardwalk with soprano pipistrelle and daubenton’s bats observed.

Other interesting sightings included, our female peregrine grounding herself with blackbird prey after crashing through the tree canopy along the blue trail (11th), a female mallard with seven freshly hatched ducklings (boardwalk, 15th), 2x jay (Peregrine Watch, 15th), 1x greenfinch (Mid Lodge, 15th), a flyover oystercatcher (Peregrine Watch, 18th), 2x roe deer (Bonnington Pavilion, 15th), 1x American mink (Bonnington Weir, 16th) and 532 globeflower plants near the boardwalk (certainly glad I had my tally counter with me on that occasion!).

Weather Watch

Spotted flycatcher was a no show here on the reserve during the past week; however I did enjoy watching a pair frantically feeding in nearby Douglas. For my final weather watch instalment of the spring I’m afraid it’s another week of less than perfect weather for bird migration. However new migrants should still filter through onto the reserve and visitors should look and listen out for sedge warbler along the River Clyde, upstream from Bonnington Weir.

Adam Jones – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Falls of Clyde Seasonal Ranger

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Intern Diary Week 10 – Peregrines and Badgers

Hello everyone,

This is the weekend before my last so I’ve been trying to make the most of my time. Although it has been very wet and therefore quiet, we had a taste of summer on Saturday with the sunshine coming through. Even our pair got excited about it and was the most active I’ve since them in weeks moving around the place and spending a considerable amount of time away.

Looking at past blog posts written around this time, it seems that last year the peregrines were giving up on their infertile egg and trying to have another go by scraping different ledges for a new nest. This year it seems that they are starting to realize that eggs aren’t going to come. So far they have been spending a lot of time sitting around the nest ledge, the tiercel was still offering all of his catches to the falcon and only eating afterward. During this weekend that seems to have changed. He eats what he brings right away and both of them are returning to their favorite oak perches and spending more time away from the nest. If they tried to lay eggs now it would probably be a waste of valuable energy as it would be very hard to rear chicks strong enough to survive the critical first winter.

The other exciting point of the weekend was my first ever sighting of a badger! With June and the official start of the Badger Watches quickly approaching, our head ranger organized a couple of Badger Watches with our volunteers to make sure everything is working as it should. It was absolutely amazing so I highly recommend it!! You can learn more about it here. During the guided walk our rangers teach a lot of cool facts about badgers, out to identify their tracks, how they live, etc. It turns out I didn’t know much about badgers so it was very educational and it really got my curiosity going.

Badger Watch 2015

Hope to see you soon

Cat Fonseca – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Peregrine Ranger Intern
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Intern Diary Week 9 – Peregrine population status

I apologize for the tardiness of the post as this was supposed to have been published last week. However after writing my draft I completely forgot to post it so here it is.

It was a great weekend here at the Peregrine Watch! With a sunny Saturday and lazy peregrines we had great views of our pair.

They spent most of the time sitting around but kept showing mating behaviour and brought in prey almost every day. Because it was a bit quieter we had time to have great conversations with visitors from all over the world. I love when we can do that as it is my favourite part of working with the public!

Scruffy tiercel (c) Cat Fonseca

Scruffy tiercel (c) Cat Fonseca

Now that our peregrines are showing signs of being done with their contribution to population number increase, I have been doing a bit of reading about Peregrine Falcon populations and their conservation status.
On a global scale, peregrines are classified as Least Concern by the IUCN in the Red List of Threatened Species. This status is due to their vast distribution (in every continent except Antarctica) and large, stable population estimated at 1200000 in 2004. However, because the species is so widespread, a favourable global conservation status doesn’t mean they are doing well in Scotland, so I dug a little deeper.
In the UK there was a major population decline in the 19th and 20th century mainly because of illegal killing and the accumulation of persistent agricultural chemicals (like DDT) in the food chain. A census of peregrine breeding pairs conducted by the BTO, JNCC, RSPB and Raptor Study Groups every 10 years has revealed some good news for the most part: in the late 1990s numbers had increased to pre-DDT levels in the UK and there has been a slow steady increase since. The last figure, obtained in 2002, was of 1400 breeding pairs, 10% more than in 1991. Of these 544 are found in Scotland.
So overall those are good news! Areas like the southwest, southeast, northeast, Orkney and the Western Isles have shown increases to different degrees; unfortunately Argyll and the Highlands are suffering a decrease and there are no peregrines in the Shetland Islands.

What really matters though is that you’ll always be able to see them from one of the best viewpoints in the UK here at the Falls of Clyde :)

Hope to see you soon

Cat Fonseca – Scottish Wildlife Trust, Peregrine Ranger Intern
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