We’ve all gone batty at Loch of the Lowes – Final Instalment. 29th August

Monday night was National Bat Night, and we had a wonderful evening learning all about bats here at Loch of the Lowes. After an informative presentation from one of our Visitor Centre team, the weather was on our side and gave us the perfect opportunity to take our visitors out to try their hand at bat detecting. Thankfully our bats did not disappoint, and multiple soprano pipistrelles put on an aerial display for us, allowing everyone to practice what we had just been taught. Several daubentons bats could also be seen skimming along the surface of our Loch, testing everyone’s identification skills as they flew alongside the pipistrelles! Here are some of the interesting bat facts that our visitors learnt:

- bats account for more than a quarter of UK mammal species.

- our daubentons bat can fly up to 15mph.

- flying foxes are the largest bat species in the world, with wingspans up to 2 metres. The bumblebee bats are the world’s smallest mammal, weighing only 2 grams.

- there are 2 major groups of bats, the megabats and the microbats. BUT some megabats are small and some microbats are big!

An example of a decorated bat box from our event

An example of a decorated bat box from our event

As we move towards September bats begin to disperse for the start of the mating season, and they also turn their attention to building up fat reserves for the coming winter. It is still an excellent time to see bats in the evening, so whether you are experienced or not, I encourage you to get outside and enjoy watching these wonderful animals before they disappear into hibernation for the winter.

If you are interested in learning more about bats and would like to actively participate in their conservation why not join your local bat group, details of which can be found on the Bat Conservation Trust website www.bats.org.uk. There are also opportunities to contribute to the National Bat Monitoring Programme for people with all ranges of abilities, from complete novices to the more experienced with their own bat detector.

Charlotte Fleming, Volunteer Assistant Ranger.

Posted in Diary 2014 |

We’ve all gone batty at Loch of the Lowes – Part 2! 25th August

Here at Lowes we have been busy surveying our buildings for bat roosts, and also monitoring our bat boxes which are located around the reserve. So far we have found several Soprano pipistrelle roosts, and are delighted to see that some of our bat boxes are also currently in use!

Different bat species will use different structures in which to roost. Soprano and common pipistrelles are crevice dwellers, and are most commonly found roosting in buildings, either underneath tiles, in the wall head, or in between cavity walls. Brown long-eared bats will also roost in buildings but they are attic dwellers and need a large, open attic space to carry out a warm up flight before leaving to feed. Other species such as the Daubenton’s bat prefer roosting in cracks in masonry and due to their feeding habits above water, are commonly found in old stone bridges over canals. Crevices in old trees make perfect roosts for our more rare species including the Noctule and Natterers’ bat, so keep an eye out when you’re next on an evening woodland walk!

Brown Long Eared bat found roosting in an attic in the Scottish Borders

Brown Long Eared bat found roosting in an attic in the Scottish Borders

All British bats and their roosts are legally protected due to the dramatic population declines seen in the last century. Like many other native species, the removal of trees and hedgerows for construction, and the intensification of agricultural practices have had a massive impact of their numbers by destroying many of their roosting and feeding sites. Whilst conservation groups such as the Bat Conservation Trust are working hard to reverse this trend, there are many simple ways in which you can help bats in your local area too. Gardens, no matter what size, can be a wonderful place for wildlife. Here are a few simple ideas to encourage more bats into your garden –

- aim to plant a mixture of flowering plants, shrubs and trees to encourage a diversity of insects, which in turn should attract different bat species.

- make a compost heap or log pile using recycled kitchen and garden waste – this will create an ideal habitat for a  range of insects.

- put up a bat box. There is a variety of designs available – some can be a great project to make at home, others can be bought on a range of budgets. Designs and instructions for making your own bat box can be found at www.bats.org.uk.

Tonight is National Bat Night, and if you would like to join us and find out more about these fantastic animals we still have spaces on our celebratory bat walk event. There will be an illustrated talk, a range of craft activities suitable for children of all ages, and a guided walk where you can try your hand at bat detecting. Booking for this event is essential, so please call 01350 727 337 to book or for any further information.

bat event pic

Charlotte Fleming, Volunteer Assistant Ranger.

Posted in Diary 2014 |

Wildlife Diary 22nd August

There is a real taste of autumn in the air here in the highlands despite it still being August. The nights are decidedly chilly and  the sound of geese arriving is filling the air. They local Canada goose population has started congregating on the lochs (today’s count 180) and they will soon be joined by other wildfowl arriving from the north. Loch of the Lowes will host many artic breeding species such as Tufted and Goldeneye ducks and Pinkfoot and Greylag geese for the winter.

Canada Goose by kind permission of Ray Leinster - copyright.

Canada Goose by kind permission of Ray Leinster – copyright.

I was asked last week why I described our ospreys as having left on “Autumn” migration, when it’s still summer. Many of our migratory species actually begin to move on migration  as soon as the summer business of rearing a family is over, and spend more than half the year in their non breeding areas. Perhaps rather than wintering grounds, we should refer to these destinations as the “off duty zones”.

The last confirmed sighting of our male osprey was last Saturday the 16th on flat top tree. Since then there have been no appearances by the birds at the nest, though there have been visiting birds dropping into the loch and sitting on some of the further perches- including one today on Skeleton tree.

Our woodlands are busy with fallow deer with young calves at foot- the females often choose the quiet woods around the visitor centre to have their calves and keep them safe for the first few weeks, before joining the larger herd come the autumn.

Lastly, a note about our Blogs. Now that the osprey season is over, there is still lots to see and do on our Perthshire reserves, so we will keep the blog up to date twice a  week during autumn. Over the winter ( October to February) we will be on skeleton staffing so this will be just once a week -but don’t worry, if anything extra exciting happens we will let you know. Thanks for all your kind comments about the blog and the incredibly supportive feedback we’ve had about it- its been much appreciated. Don’t forget you can still send your osprey questions to: ospreys@scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk

Ranger Emma

Posted in Diary 2014 |

We’ve all gone batty at Loch of the Lowes: 21st August

Whilst the warm weather may be stirring clouds of midges that spoil waterside picnics for some, for bats it has created an all you can eat buffet! With a single Pipistrelle bat able to consume 3000 midges in one night, the bats here at Lowes have been seen making the most of this plentiful food supply.

Having previously worked in bat consultancy myself, alongside other experienced staff and volunteers we have made it our goal to better our knowledge of the bat species present on our reserve, and boost the profile of these fabulous mammals. A special staff bat training night was held, equipping all with the basic knowledge to conduct our very own bat surveys. We have all been busy putting these skills into practice, patiently watching the buildings and bat boxes for emerging bats and using our detectors to identify the species found.

There are nine species of bat living in Scotland, ranging in size from the Common Pipistrelle weighing in at less than a £1 coin, to our biggest bat the Noctule which is still small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Despite the popular myths of all bats being blood sucking animals, all British bats are insectivorous and catch their prey either by hawking (capture in flight), gleaning (hovering to pluck insects from trees or bushes) or gaffing (grabbing insects from the water surface).  So far we have identified four species here at Lowes, the Common Pipistrelle, Soprano Pipistrelle, Daunbenton’s and an exciting rare Noctule sighting.

bat event pic

If you are lucky enough to have bats in your area, you do not need a detector to be able to enjoy the spectacle of bats in flight. Between March – September, go for a walk around dusk, and if you know where to look you might be surprised by how many bats you find. Common and Soprano Pipistrelles are the most common bats found in urban and rural spaces. They like to roost in cracks in buildings and in gaps under roof tiles, and frequently feed in gardens, parklands and woodlands. Emerging soon after sunset, a walk along a woodland or field path should be rewarded with a view of a frantic, zig-zag flight pattern of a Pipistrelle. However if you live near a slow flowing river or loch, you may catch a glimpse of a Daubenton’s bat, with its distinctive low figure-of-8 flight just centimetres from the surface, perfect for picking insects from the water. This species likes to roost in old masonry structures, and I’ve found canals and lochs with nearby stone bridges excellent spots to watch these bats in action.

Watch this space for more information on what you can do to attract bats into your area. If you would like to find out more about these fascinating mammals, join us on Monday 25th August to celebrate National Bat Night. We will be learning all about bats, with a range of craft activities for children of all ages and a guided walk where you can try your hand at bat detecting. Booking for this event is essential, please call 01350 727 337.

Charlotte Fleming, Volunteer Assistant Ranger.

Posted in Diary 2014 |

10 things to Look Forward To

10 things to look forward to in the coming weeks at Loch of the Lowes this August/September:

  • Migrating ospreys dropping by to visit us and fishing in our lochs- every visitor can help contribute to osprey research by looking for leg rings on these birds.
  • Watching all our fledgling birds learning the ropes : young woodpeckers and woodland birds, , ducks, swans  and more- can you spot the ‘teenagers’?
  • Frantic activity from our Red Squirrels as the shortening days prompt them to start storing food for the lean months ahead.
  • Dawn and Dusk wildlife watching becoming easier as the days shorten- the best time for Otter and Beaver spotting- we’ve had lots of good sightings recently from our lochside hide.
  • The best time of year for Deer watching- our fallow and roe deer have new fawns at foot just now and within weeks the autumn courtship will begin, with the stags roaring in the woods around the loch.
  • National Bat night event August 25th , 7-9pm. Learn all about Bats and try your hand at Bat detecting- small charge, booking essential . Suits all ages.
  • Get creative with our “It’s Our World Weekend” , part of a national project to capture the essence of the countryside – write a poem, paint a picture , take a photo- what does it mean to you? A free event all weekend 30th-31st August.
  • Tremendous Trees guided walk- talk a stroll in the early autumn woods and learn how to ID trees species and some of their fascinating stories and uses. Saturday 20th September  1-3pm. Booking recommended
  • Super Squirrels family fun weekend- learn all about our famous Red Squirrels and our work to protect them. Sat 27th and Sun 28th September. Free with VC entry, fun crafts and quizzes for all the family.
  • Autumn Itself ! Visit to see the colours change in the woods and the autumn migrants arrive on the loch- ducks and geese arriving from breeding grounds further north massively swell our numbers  of waterfowl, and surprises often turn up.
Autumn at Loch of the Lowes- copyright SWT

Autumn at Loch of the Lowes- copyright SWT

So although Osprey season is over, there is still lots to see and do on our Perthshire reserves.

Ranger Emma

Posted in Diary 2014 |

Calling all budding conservationists!

CJS Advert-page-0

Posted in Diary 2014 | Tagged , , , , |