Pete Cairns 2020VISION Talk @Birnam Arts Centre

I’m excited to tell you that renowned wildlife photographer Pete Cairns will be giving a talk about the 2020VISION project at the Birnam Arts Centre on the evening of Thursday 17th September at 7.30pm.

2020VISION is the most ambitious conservation photography project ever staged in the UK. 20 of the country’s top nature photographers spent two years bringing together a library of spell-binding imagery that reminds us why wild nature matters – to everyone. THE VISION, hosted by photographer Peter Cairns, provides an evening of inspirational imagery, music and personal anecdotes as well as an insight into the ethos behind 2020VISION.

For more info on 2020VISION go to

Based in the heart of the Cairngorms, Peter Cairns is a nature photographer with fifteen years professional experience under his belt. Author of regular features and five books, he was co-founder of the widely acclaimed Tooth & Claw predator project, along with Wild Wonders of Europe. He is a founding director of The Wild Media Foundation, the social enterprise behind the 2020VISION multimedia project and the body behind the Scottish Nature Photography Festival. Peter is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and his latest venture, SCOTLAND: The Big Picture, is a pioneering exploration of Scotland’s potential for rewilding and is due for publication in 2016.

You can find out more about Pete’s work at

Pete has very generously agreed to give the talk for free, with proceeds from the event being split between the Birnams Arts Centre and Scottish Wildlife Trust. Tickets are on sale now from the Birnam Arts Centre Box office, tel: 01350 727674 and Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre (cash only) – Adult £10, Concession (60+/student/disabled) £8, U-16s £5.

Please come along and support this event if you can – it should be a fascinating evening!

Posted in Diary 2015 | Tagged , , , , |

FR3 has left for migration!

We are delighted to announce that after an incredible osprey season at Loch of the Lowes, one of our satellite tagged chicks FR3 has set off on its autumn migration. It left Scottish soil just south of Ross on the south-west coast at 9am on the 18th August, and by 1pm had made it across the Irish Sea to Wales. After spending 2 days in the south of Wales and taking a further 2 days to make its way down the south-west tip of England, FR3 left the UK shortly after 8am on Saturday 22nd.

FR3's progress on its first migration © Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s progress on its first migration © Scottish Wildlife Trust

Navigating safely across the English Channel it was first picked up along Le Léguer, a small coastal river in western France. Our latest data showed the young osprey to be spending time around a small water body surrounded by agricultural land just west of Brittany yesterday evening.

FR3's last known location in France © Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s last known location in France © Scottish Wildlife Trust

Our other satellite tagged chick FR4 and our adult male could still be seen on the reserve yesterday, however there have been no sightings of our untagged chick FR2 for about a week now. The likelihood is that due to its close fledging time with FR3, it too has decided to leave for migration although we have no way of knowing this for sure.

This is a very exciting time and we are looking forward to following the progress of our chicks on their first migration. We will shortly be updating our website so you too can view the latest data as our chicks make their maiden journey south.


Perthshire Ranger.

Posted in Diary 2015 |

Good weather for ducks (and fallow deer apparently!)

After a few days of something more akin to summer weather normal service has been resumed here at Loch of the Lowes. The signs weren’t good from the word go today, with grey clouds gathering over the loch from early morning. By lunchtime the rain had arrived any continued to fall for the rest of the afternoon.

Quite sensibly the remaining members of our osprey family appear to have hunkered down, with very limited sightings today. The male arrived at the nest with a very large fish at around 10.40 this morning, which in the absence of any of the chicks he proceeded to eat undisturbed until about 12.15. After an absence of an hour or so the male returned with another large fish (possibly the same one?), this time accompanied by FR4 who took the fish and has spent the last few hours eating on the nest. Meanwhile the male has been sitting in the silver birch tree directly across from the observation hide, with no sign of FR2 or FR3.

The latest satellite data for FR3 & FR4 shows that they’ve not been on any further adventures away from Loch of the Lowes, travelling no further than neighbouring Craiglush Loch and on a day like this who could blame them!

FR4's movements from 9th-16th August 2015

FR4’s movements from 9th-16th August 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3's movements between 9th & 15th August 2015

FR3’s activity between 9th & 15th August 2015 ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

Some of our wildlife has still been pretty active though with a large flock of tufted ducks paddling about on the loch and Canada Geese making a racket over on Craiglush Loch . Kate our VC intern and a handful of brave visitors were also treated to the sight of 10 fallow deer swimming across the inlet channel from Craiglush (sadly no-one had a camera so you’ll have to use your imaginations). At the feeding station there have been plenty of red squirrels (up to 4 at one time) and lots of young dunnocks. So rain doesn’t always equal no wildlife.

More anon…


Visitor Centre Assistant Manager


Posted in Diary 2015 | Tagged , , , |

Optics Fair at Lowes

This weekend we have our second Optics Fair for 2015. On Sunday between 10am and 4pm we will be joined by Donald from Opticron, who will be on hand to provide expert advice, with a wide selection of binoculars and telescopes available to try and buy.

So if you’re needing a new pair of binoculars or are thinking of splashing out on a scope come along! And remember, Scottish Wildlife Trust members receive a 10% discount on any items purchased.


Posted in Diary 2015 | Tagged , , , |

Osprey update and a first departure

A month has now passed since FR2 and FR3 fledged (three weeks for FR4) and as we approach mid-August they are spending increasing intervals of time away from the nest site.

Both satellite tagged birds have now made short forays away from Loch of the Lowes as can be seen from the latest batch of data.

On the afternoon of the 8th August FR3 travelled a few miles NE from the reserve…

FR3's movements between 5th & 9th August ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR3’s movements between 5th & 9th August ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

And two days earlier FR4 journeyed south for a similar distance…

FR4's movements between 5th & 9th August ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

FR4’s movements between 5th & 9th August ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

Fishing practice will be stepping up as our trio of young ospreys seek to gain full independence in readiness for their forthcoming migration in just a few short weeks. We have had reports that at least one of them has been seen catching a fish – something rarely witnessed prior to their departure. However the male continues to provide supplementary food for the time being.

The female hasn’t been sighted since last Friday morning so it now seems almost certain that she has begun her journey south for warmer, sunnier climes. With this being her first season at Loch of the Lowes we weren’t exactly sure when she would leave, but we know that female ospreys tend to migrate within a few weeks of any chicks fledging so it comes as no great surprise. Fingers crossed she will arrive safely on her wintering grounds and we can look forward to welcoming her back again next spring for another successful breeding season (one of many to come, we hope).


Visitor Centre Assistant Manager

Posted in Diary 2015 | Tagged , , , , |

Osprey season may be coming to an end, but the wildlife is here to stay

At Loch of the Lowes, visitors are drawn in by the promise and allure of the breeding ospreys, but wildlife of all shapes and sizes is here to greet you as soon as you arrive on site. On the path between the car park and visitor centre, interesting invertebrates can often be spotted in the meadow such as the common blue damselfly or the green veined white butterfly, and on closer inspection the edges of the pathway are often used by small frogs, toads and bold squirrels en route. In the woodland adjacent to the path, roe and fallow deer can be see wandering through and stopping to graze, and Lowes is even visited by a few white (leucistic) deer. A not so common passer-by is the weasel, but their playful nature makes them easy to spot bounding through the grass in the woodland. Keeping your eyes peeled as soon as you set foot out of the car will ensure you don’t miss the less conspicuous residents of the reserve.

Toads use our path as well as visitors!

Toads use our path as well as visitors!©R.Bowman

Red squirrels are often unfazed by human presence

Red squirrels are often unfazed by human presence.©R.Bowman

The visitor centre feeding station provides an up-close encounter of some beautiful birds such as the Great spotted woodpecker, Yellowhammer and Siskin among the more common passerines, and if by chance you witness a sudden fleeing from the feeders then you might be lucky enough to see a swooping Sparrowhawk on the hunt. The station also attracts one of our most charismatic residents, the Red squirrel, which can be seen bounding through the tall grass between trees, cracking open nuts provided on wooden walkways or squeezing headfirst into the feeders to ensure nothing has gone to waste. Acrobatic pheasants can also be seen to utilise the aerial food sources, balancing precariously on the much-too-small bird feeders which provides an amusing photo opportunity.

Yellowhammers feeding on Mixed Seed

Yellowhammers frequent the mixed seed feeders.©R.Bowman

A red squirrel making the most of the feeder!

A red squirrel making the most of the feeder!©R.Bowman

From the hides overlooking the loch, the skies may be dominated by the osprey family but they will be soon ready to make their migration southwards to overwinter in Africa. However, the space won’t be left empty as the reserve is often visited by other resident or travelling raptors, such as the buzzard and the red kite. At this time of year the shrieks of fledglings of other species can be well distinguished from that of our ospreys, so keeping an ear as well as an eye open will ensure you don’t miss the other inhabitants. Taking a closer look over the water reveals the diversity of birds that rely on the loch, often requiring patience to keep an eye out for diving species such as the Great crested grebe or Goosander. A keen eye through the telescope or a good pair of binoculars will also ensure you aren’t mistaking a Tufted duck or Goldeneye for a Mallard at a distance.

Canada geese frequent the loch in large numbers

Canada geese take up residence in large numbers.©R.Bowman

The two-story hide open 24/7 is the perfect place to experience the more inconspicuous wildlife to visit the loch after hours, with the local male otter often spotted darting around the reeds when the night sky starts to set in, and small mammals swimming along the shoreline are intriguing to the staff here as they may well be the rare water shrew. Daubenton’s bats fill the skies around the hides as they emerge for feeding on the water surface, and a bit further inland Pipistrelles can be seen flying among the tree tops.

The Loch from the hide in the evening

The Loch from the hide in the evening.©R.Bowman

Whatever the time of day, there is always plenty to be seen at Lowes even if it’s not obvious at first. The key to making the most of the wildlife here is remaining discreet and giving the animals time to settle after the initial disturbance of you entering their environment- the visitor centre and hides make this unobtrusive viewing pleasure easy and if in doubt, volunteers can point you in the right direction. So pay us a visit, and immerse yourself in all that Lowes has to offer!


Assistant Ranger Intern.

Posted in Diary 2015 |