As you will have seen from my last blog post, I managed to get out of the office back in June for a trip to Scotland to meet with some of the team at RSPB Scotland.
I was blessed with amazing weather, which was absolutely perfect for my visit to Loch Lomond, another new site for me. It was a good chance to catch up with an old friend, Rob Coleman who I know from his time working on RSPB Ouse Washes and Titchwell Marsh – two of my regular haunts from the past.
Not only was the wildlife spectacular, just check out the sort of view you get as a bonus when visiting this gem of a site!
Loch Lomond - not a bad setting to watch your ospreys...
Wildlife frenzyGreenland white-fronted goose is one of my favourite birds, and a speciality of Loch Lomond, but as it was summertime and they’re all in Greenland, I contented myself with these two as we were fed and watered on arrival.
I'm assured that the real Greenland white-fronted geese that spend winter here are a little harder to see than these two.
The team told me a lot about creating the ideal feeding conditions for these rare geese around the Loch and as a big goose fan, I lapped it up. It never fails to amaze me how much work has to go in to cater for the needs of wildlife. Which reminds me, there are some tips for wild goose watching from yours truly in Nature's Home Winter 2016, which has literally just been printed.
I already knew that Loch Lomond had a fascinating history, and even has a song named after it (hence the blog title) but I soon learned that it is also a very beautiful site and one with a cracking range of habitats and wildlife as we were given the tour by Site Manager Paula Baker and Rob, who is officially known as RSPB Scotland Area Reserves Manager - Forth & Loch Lomond.
Moth trapping had taken place the previous evening on site and among the many lovely beasties on show was this poplar hawk moth, which I tried a couple of arty shots with. Note the word "tried".
It hardly seems possible that the poplar hawk moth can fly with these curvy wings
Redstarts sang cheerily from the oak woodland, tree pipits “fizzed” and “buzzed” from the tops of bushes and once we reached the loch shore, ospreys started to appear. I reckon we saw around eight different individuals with many looking for food for their young – a superb bird to see in such a beautiful setting.
Loch Lomond is a fantastic site to see ospreys (Chris Gomerall (rspb-images.com))
In the dockSo, a confession. One thing I was really hoping to see, even more than these brilliant birds: it’s a plant and it only goes around the shores of Loch Lomond. It wasn't discovered until 1936 and is sometimes called the Loch Lomond dock which would seem a sensible name. It’s the Scottish dock and I can tell you I was really excited to be shown one of these rare plants. Each to his own, remember...
Here's a shot I grabbed of it. Admittedly it wasn't the time of year for seeing it at its best, but I felt really privileged to see one.
The super rare Scottish dock - another great species for the list!
There will be more on RSPB Scotland Loch Lomond reserve in Nature’s Home in 2017 so I only wanted to whet your appetite with this blog post. The Loch and all its secrets will be revealed in your magazine soon!