As 2016 comes to an end, here are the highlights of the year
These two months saw us busily preparing activities for the events for the coming season.
In March we had two events, ‘Spring equinox – family fun’ day on the 19th and 20th and a successful beginner ID course about bird-watching taken by Scott Paterson.
There was great excitement on the 18th which saw the arrival of our female osprey (LF15). She set about cleaning and arranging the nest, and then the male (LM12) arrived on the 25th!
During this month we had two family fun days, ‘Awesome Ospreys’ and ‘Happy Hopping’, both well attended.
Also n April, LF15 laid her three eggs on the 12th, 15th and 18th. Both LM12 and LF15 took it in turns to incubate the eggs.
A dawn chorus walk was led by the ranger, and Alan Stewart came over to Lowes to talk about his long and distinguished career on the front line of tackling wildlife persecution.
This month we saw our three osprey chicks for the first time. First egg hatched on the 18th, second on the 20th and last one on the 23rd.
It wasn’t just the ospreys who were busy, the great crested grebes, built a nest among the water lilies within clear view from the hides.
Great Crested Grebe on the nest at Loch of the Lowes @ Chris Cachia Zammit
In June we held two family fun days ; ‘Nuts about Squirrels’, for the activity, Ken Neil from Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrel, was talking about red squirrels…. and Wildlife at Midsummer, both activities were jam packed with children quizzes and trails.
This month, the topics ran from pollinators to wildcats. We were visited by Sandy the Squirrel for our ‘Nuts about the squirrel’ family day. Hebe Carus, from Scottish Wildcat Action group, gave a very interesting talk about Scotland’s most endangered mammal and what’s being done to save them from extinction. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Beatrix Potter’s birth, Lindsey Gibb read the famous stories with lively enthusiasm.
The chicks started to fledge this month. First one (KP0) fledged on the 11th, KP1 on the 12th and after more ‘helicoptering’ KP2 fledged on the 16th.
On the loch, young great crested grebes were spotted with their parents protecting them.
Newly ringed chicks © Keith Brockie
Garry at Perth Museum
On a blazing hot day in August we set up a stall at Birnam Highland Games and had great fun with games like ‘Pin the tail on the squirrel’ and ‘build your nest’.
On another day Perth Museum ‘Go Wild’ activity with loads of colouring in, quizzes and games. This month, the ospreys started to depart on their migration. The first bird to leave was the female LF15, on the 13th, followed by the three chicks (KP0: 22th, KP1: 25th and KP2: 29th). After making sure that all the chicks left, the male set off (on the 30th) on his migration.
September marked the end of the osprey season, with thousands of visitors coming through the visitor centre doors, greeted by our friendly volunteers.
For October, we joined with the Birnam Arts Centre to hold a very interesting and well attended talk by Charlie Philips about the UK’s only resident population of bottlenose dolphins. We also had a visit by Robert Law, from Mills Observatory in Dundee, talking about the night sky, followed by star-gazing on the reserve.
More and more wintering birds, mainly pink footed geese and greylags, were seen on the loch. A goldcrest was spotted peeking into the visitor center window, wondering why we are amazed!
Red Squirrel at Loch of the Lowes © Chris Cachia Zammit
We took a stall at Perth Market welcoming people and telling them as much as possible about Loch of the Lowes.
Rosanna Cunningham came to the centre for a meeting with Charlotte the Perthshire Ranger and Scottish Wildlife Trust CEO Jonny Hughes. Shortly afterwards we were delighted to receive the outcome of nearly 20 years of hard work – beavers are officially welcomed back as a native species.
November brought a good number of red squirrels into the feeding station, all collecting peanuts (and rob others) and stash them into their hidey holes under the leaves. These hidey holes make easy pickings for carrion crows and jays who keep an eye where the squirrels are hiding them.
We attended the famous Santa Day market down in Dunkeld. Sandy the Squirrel joined us for this activity and received loads of cuddles from children.
December started off with a male smew on the loch. The weather was mild, and this gave a great opportunity for birds and squirrels to stock up on food.
We would like to thank all the members, volunteers and visitors for their great support and now we’re looking forward to 2017!
Chris Cachia Zammit