Scottish Tree of the Year – it’s the final countdown!

There are only days left now to register your vote for “Lady’s Tree” in the Scottish Tree of the Year 2014.

The competition, organised by the Woodland Trust, aims to highlight the incredible stories behind some of Scotland’s most iconic trees – none more so we would argue than the tree which has been home to our famous female osprey for nearly a quarter of a century!

See Sarah’s previous blog if you want to know all the reasons why “Lady’s Tree” deserves your vote.

Online voting closes this Sunday, 26th October so if you haven’t cast your vote yet then do so now by going to - Please note, one vote is allowed per email address.

The result of Scottish Tree of the Year 2014 will be announced on Thursday 30th October at an award reception in the Scottish Parliament. The winner will not only receive the Scottish Tree of the Year trophy but will also be put forward as Scotland’s entry into the European Tree of the Year competition for 2015.

So what are you waiting for? Get voting!



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Secret World of Fungi

Looking for a fun day out for all the family during October half-term?…

Coming up this weekend we have a fungi-filled weekend of activities which should appeal to any budding mycologists out there.

We will have information displays in the visitor centre to help you identify mushrooms and toadstools in your local area, as well as fungi-themed quizzes, colouring sheets and craft activities to keep the children entertained.

So why not come along and get your “inking” caps on?


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Osprey Withdrawals? Who to watch this winter

Its been a very mixed year for ospreys in the UK and not without a few surprises- such as the one male, two nests saga at FCS /RSPB Aberfoyle- and tragedy- such as the loss of the well known female and her chicks at Tweed Valley Project main nest. This of course highlights that you can never take ospreys for granted and that there is always something new to learn about their behaviour and conservation.

However, overall the summer weather was kind and there has been a bumper crop of chicks fledged across the UK. It is especially exciting to see increasing numbers in England and Wales, with ospreys spreading out to recolonize more of their historical range- may it continue! An excellent guest Blog on the Dyfi Osprey site : highlights some key issues about ospreys in the UK and how we need keep an eye on the big picture for this species as a whole- they are not out of the woods entirely yet and there is a great deal we all can and should be doing to help them.

So as we were not lucky enough to have chicks hatched at Loch of the Lowes this year and we therefore have no satellite tracking data to keep us nail-biting, we thought you might be sharing our osprey withdrawal symptoms. Many of our sister projects and colleagues in osprey conservation have tracked birds this year, and who knows what fascinating insights and new information we might all learn this winter.

So here’s a summary of who to watch over the winter:

Roy Dennis’ Highland Foundation for Wildlife has four birds being tracked: adult females Beatrice  and Green J wintering in Spain, adult male Blue XD is Senegal, and our favourite  Rothiemurchus (born 2005 and a regular visitor to Lowes) in Senegal.

Keilder Osprey Project tagged two chicks this year: “7H” who is in Morocco, and “UV” who is in Portugal- will they move on or stay?

Aberfoyle Ospreys tagged two chicks, Lonaig who is also in Portugal and Murrin who is awol currently.

Tweed Valley Osprey Project has tagged a young bird called “FK8″ in the Scottish Borders- not much news yet of this bird who seemed to hang around late this autumn.

The Lake District Osprey Project has two birds currently tracked: “14″ from 2013 who is still in Equatorial Guinea, and “8A” from 2014 who is in Mauritania after a successful first migration.

Rutland Water Ospreys is still tracking “30( 05)” on her third successful migration – interestingly along almost exactly the same route each time.

RSPB Loch Garten has three birds tracking: Breagha from 2013 in Senegal, and this years two chicks Seasca ( awol over the Bay of Biscay) Millicent who has settled in Senegal/Mauritania border area near the town of Richard Toll- very close to our Blue YD’s wintering grounds.

So, how many of these birds will survive the winter? What interesting exploits will they get up to? Will any be seen and photographed there? Will we get any other reports of ringed UK birds sent in- even our missing birds Blue YD and Blue 44? Let’s hope so!


Posted in Diary 2014 |


We have been shortlisted for Scotland’s Tree of the year

As of 8th September voting has commenced for Scottish Tree of the Year! You have from now until 26th October to make that vote count. So what are you waiting for, tell all your friends and family and get voting! (NB One vote per individual email address will be accepted.)

LOL Tree JClose

Scots Pine Tree – Copywrite SWT (J.Close)

Why Vote for this Scots Pine tree?

The Scots pine is native to the Highlands of Scotland and is the largest and longest-lived tree in the Caledonian Forest. Its conservation status is recovering with regeneration now starting to occur, especially in areas fenced off from browsing deer.

It forms the foundations for a variety of species that depend upon it in many ways. Playing host to Stump Lichens and Scottish Wood Ants that live on and under the bark, a shelter for deer, shade for flowers, home and food for red squirrel and in pride of place up top, our majestic Ospreys that nest in its level branches.This particular Scots pine at Loch of Lowes is over 60 feet tall and was chosen by our famous Osprey affectionately known as ‘Lady’, as her home. 

It’s part of a conservation success story! For the past 24 years this female osprey has returned to nest in this Scots pine tree on our nature reserve at Loch of the Lowes, Dunkeld, Perthshire. During this time she has laid 71 eggs and fledged 50 chicks. This is truly remarkable and the safety provided by this Scots pine in all weathers has surely played a part in that success.   Our 24hr HD webcam on the tree attracts over 1 million viewers a year in over 160 different countries. So I think this tree and our Osprey deserve to be equally famous.

LOL Osprey family SWT

Osprey Family 11th July 2013, copyright SWT

LOL JClark osprey

copyright John Clark – SWT use only










So, as you can see this Scots pine has been fundamental in the success of our breeding osprey programme here at Loch of the Lowes and with this year being the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s 50th Anniversary, we and I’m sure our veteran osprey would be thrilled if it won Scottish Tree of the Year. The winner will receive the Scottish Tree of the Year trophy and will be entered into the European Tree of the Year competition.

Please vote using this link:

You can also vote in person at Loch of the Lowes visitor centre, please ask at reception.

The Visitor Centre and Shop is open daily from 10:00am-5pm.

A huge thank you to all our supporters from reserve staff and volunteers to visitors, web cam watchers and avid blog readers, we hope you continue to enjoy this wonderful Tree and all the nature on, in and around it!

Sarah Close
Visitor Centre Assistant

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Red Squirrel News this Autumn

We’ve been getting a lot of questions about Red Squirrels this week- mainly ” Where are they all ?”. Don’t worry , they haven’t all disappeared,  the explanation lies in their seasonal habits…..

Red Squirrel- copyright SWT

Red Squirrel- copyright SWT

Adult squirrels are now at the tail end of weaning their last kits of the year , especially if they are lucky enough to have had two litters this year.  Older kits will be dispersing from their natal territory to find a place of their own to forage and sleep -squirrel territories overlap a lot but the young don’t stay with their parents over the winter. This is why it is so common to find young squirrels as the victims on roads this time of year- they are out and about adventuring in the wide new world and don’t have any road sense.

In our woodlands the peak autumn tree seed crop is right now, meaning seeds and fruits are widely available for harvesting by Squirrels and caching for winters scarcer times. There is also an abundant harvest of wild fungi in autumn that squirrels love  and you can even sometimes find mushrooms stashed up trees this time of year with tell-tale  teeth marks on them!

So with this great autumn abundance of wild foods, the squirrels are sensibly focussing their attentions on gathering and storing as much of it as they can before it disappears. They don’t need our garden feeder nut hand-outs so much just now, and they no doubt know they will still be there when the woods are bare.

So don’t worry, your local squirrels haven’t disappeared, they are just busy this autumn!

What to find out more? Well, handily this weekend, to mark National Red Squirrel Week.  we have having a Red Squirrel theme at Loch of the Lowes all weekend- drop to find out more, pick up information about how you can help squirrels, and have some fun with the family. If you need a expert advice, our local Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels Officer Ken Neil will be on hand on Sunday to help.

Red Squirrel family Fun Days, Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th September, 11am-4pm. Craft activities and quizzes for kids, all free with Visitor Centre entry.


Ranger Emma ( soon to be the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrel Project Officer for South West Scotland)

Posted in Diary 2014 |

Times are a Changing at Loch of the Lowes

Autumn is my favourite season at Loch of the Lowes ( well second after osprey hatching time) with its beautiful colours and the daily changes to the light, the landscape and the wildlife arriving and leaving. The woods around the loch are starting to colour up- though not anywhere near the full splendour of a Perthshire October yet- worthy of any artist or photographers skills.

The warblers and flycatchers, swifts  and summer migrants like the ospreys have gone already, flying southwards for the winter. There are still a few hangers on like some swallows and martins, but they are massing to leave soon too.

But to cheer us all up the autumn arrivals are starting to drift in- there were 30 Tufted ducks on the loch this morning, some Goldeneye and greylag geese, as well as Pink footed geese flying over in their characteristic neat V formations with high pitched voices.

Ranger Emma

Sadly, this year I too am joining the autumn exodus and I will be leaving post as Perthshire Ranger in early October. The last three years have been a labour of love for me, and an enormous privilege- not just to work in such beautiful surroundings, but to work alongside so many inspiring and dedicated staff and volunteers, and to meet so many lovely people who share our enthusiasm and love of the wildlife and these special places. I have been supported in my work by amazing teams of volunteers to whom I am eternally grateful and by much public feedback and encouragement- thank you all !

I am going on to pastures new, leaving the Loch of the Lowes and our other local reserves in the capable hands of my colleagues and a part time interim ranger for the winter season. I know you will all understand that with a  skeleton staff over the winter, our blogs will be just weekly and we will do our very best to get back to enquires and questions when we can.

So, before I go, do you have any burning osprey or wildlife questions you want answered? If so, send them to before October the 1st please.

Do you want to meet Ranger Emma before she goes?  Then why not join us for one last guided walk from Dunkeld to Loch of the Lowes this Thursday, 11am-3pm. Explore autumn woodlands and the local wildlife with the ranger , in this glorious sunshine! booking advisable on 01350 727337

Posted in Diary 2014 |