Fantastic News about The Tree of The Year!

We are delighted and excited to tell you that the tree that is home to the female osprey at Loch of the Lowes, affectionately known by many as ‘Lady’, has been shortlisted for Scottish Tree of the Year.

This magnificent Scots Pine is viewed and admired by people from all around the world via the live webcam. Its stunning location beside the Loch of the Lowes, with the dramatic backdrop of Perthshire’s hills, is an iconic Scottish view whether it’s baking in sunshine under deep blue skies, sparkling with frost and snow or shrouded in early morning mist.

When you add to this the incredibly successful conservation story which has played out from the safety of its branches, surely ‘Lady’s Tree‘ is a worthy winner.

Please vote! And please share this wonderful news far and wide. Wouldn’t it be amazing if our famous female’s home was recognised in this way – Scottish Tree of the Year!

It’s easy to vote, just follow this link.

http://bit.ly/TreeoftheYear

If technology is not your thing, don’t despair, you can vote on a paper form by supplying your name and  email address: we have a form at Loch of the Lowes.

Scottish Tree of the Year is an annual search for the nation’s best loved tree, organised by the Woodland Trust and supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. It’s a unique celebration of the cultural and environmental importance of trees.

Voting closes on 26 October. The winner will be announced at the Scottish Parliament on October 30, and will go on to represent Scotland in European Tree of the Year 2015.

Cherry

Posted in Diary 2014 |

Loch of the Lowes on TV

Earlier this season we were visited by a BBC film crew who were making Street Patrol UK, a series highlighting antisocial behaviour in all its forms.

They were at Loch of the Lowes to focus on wildlife crime and here’s a link to the BBC iplayer to see Emma Rawling and several of the fabulous 2014 Osprey Watch team and Lowes volunteers in action.
The Loch of the Lowes section starts at around 20 minutes into the programme.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04gv41w/street-patrol-uk-series-2-episode-4

Hope this link works  - if not you can always watch it through BBC iplayer for the next few days.

Cherry

Posted in Diary 2014 |

Wildlife Diary 3rd August

Whilst there is a real hint of autumn in the air around highland Perthshire, we are bathed this week in lovely sunshine. There are small touches of autumn colour on the lochside trees and the numbers of geese are building daily.

Today we had another visit from a hybrid Barnacle goose who has been living with the local Canada geese population for the last year or so. The small delicate build and the small tapered bill look very barnacle goose like , but the colouration is a real mystery, as it its full parentage.

Hybrid Goose - photo by John Monks

Hybrid Goose – photo by John Monks

Hybrid geese and ducks are actually quite common , though some species hybridise more often than others- such as Canada geese and Mallards. They will court and mate with domestic waterfowl and even sometimes interbreed with other wild species, though the offspring are almost always sterile themselves and cannot breed successfully.

Autumn migration is a time when we often get sightings and questions of unusual birds , so if you see a duck or goose or any bird that looks really odd, it is worth checking out three possibilities:

1) It is a Vagrant- that is a species not usually found in the UK , but lost on route or blown off course by storms- check the “Unusual visitors ” section of any decent bird book. A good example of this would be Snow geese who are usually found in the Americas, but who sometimes turn up in the UK following Greylag, Barnacle or Pinkfoot goose flocks in winter. The above individual does look like a small, grey colour form snow goose, but its bill is the wrong colour and shape.

2) It could be an escaped captive individual or its descendants- this is particularly common in geese and ducks who are often kept in domestic settings. For example a few years ago we had a trio of white headed Bar Headed geese on the loch, who are normally found migrating over the Himalaya, and who on closer inspection were escaped pets- look for leg rings and tame behaviour.

3) It could be a hybrid individual- you can have hours of fun trying to figure out the combinations. A good bird book should have a page of common hybrid  illustrations for ducks and geese, such as Canalags ( Canada x Greylag geese) , Pochard or Scaup x Tufted Duck and so on.

If you see large flocks of autumn birds, it’s always a good idea to take time to scan the flock and see if there any  unusual individuals that stand out- many a rarity has hidden amongst common friends- Good luck with your autumn migration watching!

Ranger Emma

Posted in Diary 2014 |

Digital Landscape Photography Courses

Next month, experienced photographer Ron Walsh is offering bespoke one-to-one digital landscape photography workshops based around Loch of the Lowes. All proceeds from these workshops will go towards our Osprey Satellite Tracking programme.

Dates are available throughout October so if you would like more information then call the Visitor Centre for details on 01350 727337 or email lochofthelowes@scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk
WalshPhotographyLandscapeWorkshops-page-0-compressed

Posted in Diary 2014 | Tagged , , , |

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 |