Jenny Tweedie, RSPB Media & Communications Officer, tells us about a FREE open day to celebrate improvements at our Lochwinnoch reserve. 

An even better home for nature at RSPB Lochwinnoch

Photo by Zul Bhatia.

There’s a bit of a do happening at RSPB Lochwinnoch this weekend. It’s to celebrate the work that’s been happening over the last few years, to make the reserve a better home for nature, and a better place for the people who love that nature.

For those who don’t know it, Lochwinnoch is situated within Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park in Renfrewshire, and it’s part of one of the last few remaining wetlands in the west of Scotland. But over the last 250 years or so, the floodplain around Lochwinnoch had seen a lot of changes, with water-courses being diverted through man-made channels, leaving wildlife restricted.

Plans to improve the situation have taken years, and the work itself was delayed by the discovery of salmon and brook lamprey, both protected species of fish that weren’t even known to be on the reserve.

But with 9000 tons of earth now moved, major re-landscaping work completed, new pools in place, and an old burn diverted over 100 years ago, now re-connected to its original state, the habitat works are finally finished. There’s also been some improvements inside the reserve’s visitor centre, resulting in a better all-round experience, and in particular creating a wide open viewing space to help people enjoy all the new wildlife.


After (photo by Ivor Wilson).

They’ve not been disappointed. The excavated channels and extended main pond in the Aird Meadow have attracted huge numbers of birds, including unprecedented flocks of snipe and lapwings. Whooper swans can now be seen in clear view of the visitor centre, joined by teals, wigeons, gadwall, garganey and goosander. Rarer birds such as a smew, scaup, spotted crake, and even kingfishers have all been seen, and a lucky few have even managed to catch a glimpse of an otter taking advantage of the new habitat.

And the fish? Well they’re doing well too, with initial surveys showing good numbers of salmon and trout, and clear indications of ‘nesting’ by the brook lampreys, which means that they’re breeding.

All this (apart from the fish) can be seen this Saturday, with a free open day at Lochwinnoch from 11am-4pm. You can take part in the sponsored birdwatch, take a guided walk, or just come along and enjoy the spring wildlife. If you can’t make it this weekend, then the reserve is open every day, and runs regular events throughout the year. It’s easy to get to by train, as it’s about a five minute walk from Lochwinnoch station, and there’s even an RSPB shop, so you can stock up on things to give nature a home in your own garden.

So why not come along some time soon, and see the results of a lot of hard work.

Funding for the project was kindly allocated by WREN in 2010 through its Biodiversity Action Fund. WREN is a not for profit business that awards grants to community, environmental and heritage projects across the UK from funds donated by FCC Environment as part of a voluntary environmental tax credit scheme called the Landfill Communities Fund (LCF).