Trip reports

Coach Outing

Coach Outing
David Aguade

Sunday, 27 April 2014

SWT Loch of the Lowes and Glen Almond

Good birding, superb weather, lovely countryside, and good company. That sums up our day. However a lot of people have said that they like a bird report, to know what the combined group sightings were during the outing. So, here goes.

Near Loch of the Lowes magpie, jackdaw, carrion crow, rook and a roe deer were in the fields. On our arrival, Jonathan, the Centre manager, gave us detailed information about "Lady", the famous 27-year old osprey, her current mate, and their 3 eggs. Also, the alarming news that both birds had been scared off the nest by two walkers who had, somehow, ignored all the notices warning of path closures due to nesting birds, and made their way to below the nest. The police dealt firmly with the "intruders", but the birds were off the nest for 20 minutes, which is possibly the tipping-point for survival of incubating eggs. The Centre staff hope that, as it was a warm, dry day, the eggs will survive. Many birds were seen from the Centre's viewing window; great spotted woodpecker, dunnock, robin, blackbird, great-, coal- and blue tits, treecreeper, chaffinch, redpoll, greenfinch, siskin and yellowhammer, along with red squirrel, vole and field mouse . . . and we hadn't yet been to see the star of the show!

The ospreys were on good form. They regularly swapped incubation duties, and flew round, enjoying their period of freedom. The male took exception to a nearby crow, and chased it off aggressively. "Lady" did a bit of nest reorganisation, and the general activity was fascinating to watch, as was the display behaviour of 5 pairs of great crested grebe. Other loch inhabitants noted were grey heron, mute swan, Canada goose, mallard, teal, tufted duck and goldeneye. Sand martins were around, and 2 jays flew into trees, near the osprey nest.

Some of us walked through the woodland and up the hill behind the Centre. We heard wren, and saw meadow- and tree pipit, song thrush, blackcap, willow- and wood warbler, chiffchaff and a flock of long-tailed tits. Common buzzard, curlew, woodpigeon, collared dove and pheasant were also seen.
Picnic lunches were enjoyed sitting in the sunshine, or in the hides, watching the ospreys. A leucistic chaffinch came to the feeders, and a nuthatch was heard calling.

We then moved on to Glen Almond, leaving green farmland for moorland scenery. En route 2 of our group saw a golden eagle - a treat. At the start of Glen Almond we noted a dipper and barn swallows around the farm buildings. Further on, the plaintive call of a ring ouzel was heard. We spent some time locating, then watching, a pair of birds, very active on the hillside. Wheatear were in the same area, and turning to follow a kestrel, we noticed that we were being watched from the ridge by a group of red deer, antlers showing well on the skyline. Some of our group decided to sunbathe beside the bubbling side-streams, and watch the black rabbits; others walked on a little further, seeing goosander, oystercatcher, lapwing, black headed- and herring gull, and pied wagtail. Time passed all too quickly, and we turned back, adding common sandpiper, mistle thrush, raven, starling and, a final treat, a clear and prolonged view of a common redstart.

Sitting beside the river and reluctant to leave, we heard a cuckoo, the perfect end to our Spring coach outing.

Val Donaldson