Visitor Centre Open

I’m pleased to confirm that the visitor centre is now open, and will remain open as usual until 5pm.


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Visitor Centre Closed

Due to unforeseen circumstances the visitor centre will not be opening at 10am this morning. The observation hide is open so you can still come down and enjoy the spectacular autumn colours and waterbirds on the loch.

We will let you know if we are able to open later in the day.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

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Just another manic Monday

Another quiet autumn day at Loch of the Lowes I thought, when I arrived on Monday and looked out of the hide and across the loch. Rain was falling, mist rolling in – dreich indeed. The ‘usual suspects’ greeted me – by totally ignoring my presence – and I settled in to watch the swans, golden eyes, tufted ducks and great-crested grebes dabble and dive in front of the bird hide.

After an hour or so the rain stopped, the mist lifted, and a rainbow arched over the scene. Beautiful.

Just then a flock of birds appeared to the left of the osprey nest and headed straight for a berry-laden tree by the hide. The tree shuddered and trembled as the 50 strong flock landed on its branches and began to devour its riches. A mixed flock of red wing and fieldfare all the way from Scandinavia had just arrived! Seeing them so close up was a real treat. They seemed to be in a frenzy, hardly staying still at all, flitting from cluster to cluster picking off the ripe berries.

Fieldfare (left) and Redwing (right) - Creative Commons/Mickeboy69

Fieldfare (left) and Redwing (right) – Creative Commons/Mickeboy69

And then, just as quickly as they had arrived, they were gone, and another pulse arrived of similar size, followed by another – over 150 birds I reckoned (using my rather rusty bird-counting skills learned years ago from Bill Oddie!). Winter is definitely on its way.

I spent a contented hour or so watching the comings and goings on the loch and in the berry tree when suddenly the peace was shattered by a desperate shriek and rasping throaty call of a bird in distress. I looked across to the silver birch tree opposite the hide – favoured as a perch by our osprey family, and provider of many a branch for nest repairs – and there was a peregrine falcon in full flight dive bombing something hidden from view but perched in the tree.

Round and down again came the peregrine, to the desperate screams of the other bird. The peregrine swooped, flew up and around the headland out of sight, only to reappear and dive at its target once more. This was repeated several times, and each time the cry of the other bird sounded louder and more frantic. The nearest sound to its cries I had ever heard was of a crow being butchered by a hawk, but this was a deeper, more throaty sound, what on earth was it? Of one thing I was sure: if it came off its perch it was a goner!

Peregrine ©Pete Trimming/ Creative Commons

Peregrine ©Pete Trimming/Creative Commons

Suddenly another bird appeared over the tree line – a buzzard – and in an instant, it was all over. The beleaguered bird had been a buzzard and its desperate cries had attracted its mate who had flown in to help. The peregrine sized up the opposition and decided to call it a day, and flew off to another favourite perch of our adult male osprey, where it made itself comfortable and stayed all day, preening its feathers, getting ready for its next assault.

The buzzards disappeared over the tree tops – probably having got the message from the falcon – stay out of this area, it is mine……..until March that is, when the ospreys return and may have something to say about that!

Alwyn Ferguson – Volunteer Guide in the Hide

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Hunter’s Moon and upcoming Stargazing Event

There will be a fabulous full moon tonight, a Hunter’s Moon.

It will rise 20 minutes earlier than a usual moonrise and appear to be glowing orange. This is the first full moon after the autumnal equinox but because it appears on the horizon unusually soon after sunset, the daylight seems to last longer. In the olden days this allowed farmers and hunters longer to carry out their work, hence its name.

Next Sunday, 23rd October, we are holding our first ever Stargazing Event at Loch of the Lowes. This is a dark sky area and we have fingers crossed for a clear sky. However, don’t despair if it is cloudy, astronomer Robert Law will present a fascinating talk instead.

Please note – Booking is required for this event so if you would like to come along please call 01350 727337.

We look forward to seeing you then!

Please see below:



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Guest blog by Lari Don – Hares and riddles, toads and trickery, crows and curses

Writing about magical animals can lead to a lot of research into real animals.

I’ve often written about imaginary animals – dragons, phoenixes, centaurs, selkies – which gave me the freedom to make up physical attributes and unusual behaviours.

But recently I’ve been writing a trilogy in which many of characters shapeshift into real Scottish animals.

In the Spellchasers trilogy, my main character Molly is cursed to become a hare at inconvenient times, my main baddie Corbie often flies off as a crow, and there’s a character who’s trapped as a toad for the whole of the first book.

Common toad ©Anne Burgess/Creative Commons

Common toad ©Anne Burgess/Creative Commons

I decided that even though these creatures were clearly magical, I wanted them to act, move and have the same physical powers as real wild animals.

So I did a fair amount of research before I started writing. Initially I researched the folklore of these animals. But I also researched scientific facts about the real wild animals, particularly the speed and movement of hares. (My hare gets chased a lot, so I needed to know how she would react to danger, and how fast she could go.)

But I clearly didn’t do enough research. Because when I was tidying the final draft of the first book of the trilogy, I made a list of things to double-check – would a hare beat a racehorse, how big is a crow’s egg, how wide is a hare’s field of vision, how do toads move? – and realised I’d made a few simple (and simply wrong!) assumptions.

For example, hares have almost 360 degree vision, with narrow blind spots at the front and back. Discovering that at the last minute meant redrafting quite a few chase scenes, because my heroine was now very hard to sneak up on!

Brown hares ©Rob Burke/Creative Commons

Brown hares ©Rob Burke/Creative Commons

And toad don’t hop, toads crawl. Which took me by surprise. And meant a change of verb and often a change of layout in almost every scene.

So I really enjoyed writing about real animals, but I also found it much fiddlier and more rigorous than writing about imaginary ones. (With dragons, no one can say you got the science wrong!)

However, I hope that by giving our native wildlife starring roles in my magical adventures, I will inspire young readers to find out about the animals living around us, and inspire young writers to create stories of their own about our fascinating Scottish wildlife.
Lari Don’s most recent novel Spellchasers: the Beginner’s Guide to Curses is out now, published by Floris Books.
More info about Lari’s books can be found on and Lari can often be found on twitter @LariDonWriter

Lari will be at Loch of Lowes visitor centre on Sunday 23rd October from 3.30– 4.30pm, chatting about the Spellchasers trilogy and about being inspired by Scottish wildlife.

lari-don-spellchasersMore details of the event which is suitable for 8 – 12 year olds can be found at

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Autumn colours and recent arrivals

Loch of the Lowes has taken on a very autumnal feel over the past few weeks with signs of the changing season increasingly evident. With the leaves on the trees gradually losing their green chlorophyll, they are transforming into a vibrant kaleidoscope of golds, yellows, reds and burnt oranges. Eventually falling to the ground, children (and adults!) can then delight in swishing through them whilst out walking and hear them crunch under their feet.  Perthshire, with its large and impressive woodlands is a magical place at this time of year for this very reason.

Lowes in autumn ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

Lowes in autumn ©Scottish Wildlife Trust

Any summer migrants have long since departed and we are starting to see some of our winter visitors arriving. On the loch numbers of goldeneye have been slowly increasing, with sightings of wigeon and teal also reported. We haven’t seen any whooper swans yet – they tend to appear later in the year. Large flocks of pink-footed geese have been passing by on their way south – for a real goose spectacle head to Montrose Basin where 85,632 were counted last October!   

Common goldeneye (Creative Commons)

Common goldeneye: female (left), male (right) – Creative Commons/Dick Daniels

We had our first pair of brambling of the autumn at the feeding station a couple of days ago and flocks of redwing and fieldfare have been sighted in the surrounding woodland. I saw and heard a flock of a dozen or so fieldfare chuckling away in the trees beside the disabled car park as I arrived one day last week.

Male brambling - Creative Commons/Snowmanradio

Male brambling – Creative Commons/Snowmanradio

Our EVS volunteer Chris is desperate to see some waxwing this winter so if anyone hears of any within distance of Loch of the Lowes drop us an email!


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