1 Day Birdwatching Course

It is a beautiful sunny day today without a breath of wind to mask the clear calls of distant buzzards, ‘whistling’ wigeon on the loch and the excited spring chattering from woodland birds. Even the woodpeckers are drumming! It certainly makes a change from all the dark stormy weather we have been having so far this year.

Our thoughts are on the season ahead and the varied programme of events, talks and courses we have planned for Loch of the Lowes.

Next month we are delighted to offer something a little different …

Birdwatching for Beginners

At Loch of the Lowes

Sunday 20th March 2016     10am-4pm

If you have an interest in birds and would like to increase your knowledge and gain confidence, join local birder Scott Paterson as he guides you through the basics.

Adult £45, member £35 (not suitable for under 16s).

Booking essential.

Bring packed lunch and binoculars.

For more information or to book a place, please contact Loch of the Lowes 01350 727337 or email lochofthelowes@scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk

Cherry

 

 

Posted in Diary 2016 |

Osprey Tracking Update – 4th February 2016

FR3

It’s been business as usual over the past week for FR3, who shows no inclination to travel beyond the immediate vicinity of Bulok (The red points and orange lines indicate new activity while the purple lines are historic data).

FR3's activity from 29th January-3rd February 2016 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s activity from 29th January-3rd February 2016 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

My internet searches up till now had failed to provide me with much information about Bulok, except that it is a small town in the Brikama Division of south-western Gambia.

However this morning I came across this video on YouTube, relating to an agricultural and environmental development project that Bulok has apparently benefited from.

The “Participatory Integrated Watershed Management Project” (or PIWAMP for short), ran initially from 2005-2010 (later extended to 2014) and was funded by the Government of the Gambia, the Nigeria Trust Fund and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The project’s aims were to address the challenges of low agricultural productivity and environmental degradation such as: loss of soils through wind and water erosion, declining soil fertility, loss of vegetation cover and increasing vulnerability to drought. By developing community watershed management plans in collaboration with villages, they hoped to increase the income of poor rural communities whilst ensuring better management and development of the natural resources.

The video shows a drainage dyke in Bulok, created by PIWAMP to divert water away from the village and into a tributary of the Gambia river. Prior to the construction of the dyke a road which runs through the village was being badly eroded, villagers homes undercut and adjacent land routinely flooded.

FR4

As much as I would like to be able to give you some positive news about FR4 unfortunately I can’t. We have received no data now for over a month and realistically this isn’t likely to change. Tim Mackrill from the Rutland Osprey Project was kind enough to put us in touch with a ranger contact of his who works in Senegal. The remoteness of FR4’s last location makes mounting a search difficult, but they have said they will do what they can and let us know if they have any information.

We will let you know if and when there is anything to report, good or bad.

Jonathan

 

Posted in Diary 2016 | Tagged , , , , , , |

Fancy working at Loch of the Lowes this summer?

We are looking for an enthusiastic individual to provide a first class wildlife experience for visitors to Loch of the Lowes throughout our busy osprey breeding season.

Assisting in the day-to-day running of the centre’s reception and osprey/wildlife exhibition areas, our Visitor Centre Assistant will also focus on promoting conservation the work of the Scottish Wildlife Trust and wider conservation, increasing support for our work and assisting with the planning and running of our busy events programme.

If you have excellent communication skills, have worked in the retail/tourism/not-for-profit sector, and have an aptitude for enthusing others about nature conservation then we’d love to hear from you.

The post is for 7 months from 1st April to 31st October, working 4 days April-August and 3 days in September/October. The salary is £14,040 pro rata.

For more details including how to apply visit the ‘Jobs’ page on the Scottish Wildlife Trust website.

The closing date for applications is noon on Monday 15th February.

We look forward to receiving your application.

All three chicks successfully ringed © Scottish Wildlife Trust

All three chicks successfully ringed in 2015 © Scottish Wildlife Trust

Posted in Diary 2016 | Tagged , , , |

Winter Weather

If you are planning to come up to the Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre today, please call ahead first (01350 727337) to ensure we are open.

The weather is closing in and reports of heavy snow and strong winds are forecast for this afternoon.

I may well close up early and hope Storm Gertrude blows herself out tonight.

Keep warm and safe everyone!

Cherry

Posted in Diary 2015 | Tagged |

Unexpected news from Senegal!

As many of you will no doubt be aware, staff and volunteers from the Rutland Osprey Project have recently returned from a trip to the Gambia and Senegal. Since 2011 the Rutland team have made an annual visit to West Africa as part of their Osprey Flyways Project – a groundbreaking education project working with schools in the Gambia, based around the incredible story of osprey migration.

During the latter part of this year’s trip staff members Paul Stammers, John Wright and Kayleigh Brookes travelled to Lompoul sur Mer in western Senegal – an area they had visited on a previous visit to locate 30(05), a satellite tagged female bird from Rutland who overwinters there. They were successful in relocating 30(05) amongst many other ospreys, including a bird very well know to us… Blue YD!

For those of you who don’t know or remember the story of Blue YD here’s a quick summary… Blue YD is a 3-year old male bird who was ringed and tagged in July 2012 at one of the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s reserves near Forfar in Angus. He successfully migrated to West Africa that autumn and we were able to follow his movements over the following 18 months. Unfortunately his tag stopped transmitting in May 2014 at which point he was in North Yorkshire, having undertaken his first return migration to the UK.

Despite a number of subsequent possible sightings of a blue ringed, tagged bird in the area, we didn’t know what had happened to him. That is until August 2015 when he was spotted alive and well on the Eden estuary near St Andrews! So when Tim Mackrill from the Rutland Osprey Project contacted us with the news that Blue YD had been sighted on 18th January near Lompoul we were overjoyed.

John Wright has very kindly agreed to us sharing the following account and photos of Blue YD and Lompoul with you.

Lompoul sur Mer ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

Lompoul beach ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

“It is the second visit I have made to Lompoul sur Mer as one of our sat tagged females also winters on the same beach. Both times I have counted around 100 Ospreys along a 30km stretch of beach, consisting of many German and Scottish birds. It is hard work as you have to drive along the tide line in a 4X4 at low tide and run the risk of seriously getting stuck in the sand or engulfed by the sea…

4x4 on the beach at Lompoul ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

4×4 on the beach at Lompoul ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

Many of the Ospreys spend the day perched on drift wood along the beach and then night roost in coastal woodland and scrub. The local people grow vegetables within the coastal woodland and use the shoreline as their road to local markets in nearby villages…

Local vegetables sellers ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

Local vegetables sellers ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

Many Ospreys are quite flighty so I end up reading most colour rings from photos that I take from the (often moving) vehicle.”

Blue YD perched on driftwood ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

Blue YD perched on driftwood on Lompoul beach ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

As you can see Blue YD’s tag is still clearly attached despite no longer transmitting. The tags are held in place by a biodegradable cotton thread which is sown through the two straps that harness the tag to the bird. This thread will eventually break so at some point in the next few years the tag will fall off.

Blue YD in flight ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

Blue YD in flight ©John Wright/Rutland Osprey Project

At three years of age Blue YD will by now have established an annual winter roost site which it appears must be in the Lompoul area. It is wonderful to learn more about the life of a bird that we had followed from a fledgling and shows the value of ringing in allowing us to track the life history of individual birds. Perhaps he will be spotted back near St Andrews this summer, hopefully breeding and helping the continued recovery of the osprey population in Scotland.

Our heartfelt thanks go to John and the rest of the Rutland team for sharing this fantastic news with us.

Jonathan

Posted in Diary 2016 | Tagged , , , |

Osprey Tracking Update – 29th January 2016

There has been no change in FR3’s behaviour over the last couple of weeks with our young osprey remaining within the confines of the bolong (creek) to the north of Bulok in the Gambia.

FR3's activity between 10th & 28th January 2016 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s activity between 10th & 28th January 2016 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

As you can see from the close-up image below, our young ospreys appears to have two main roost sites and is making very localised journeys of no more than 1km from these locations.

FR3's core activity area ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s core activity area ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

 

Posted in Diary 2016 | Tagged , , , , |