Trip reports

Kinross and Loch Leven

Sedge warbler perched on phragmites
Sedge warbler - RSPB Images

Sunday, 28 May 2017

It was a cloudy, cool morning when 14 keen birdwatchers joined me in the Kirkgate car park, Kinross. We began surveying Loch Leven and surrounding shrubbery with Val pointing out mute swan, grey heron, coot, tufted duck, mallard and gadwall. Reed bunting sat on a fence post near the pier.

Proceeding into the graveyard, swift and swallow flew above the trees while greenfinch sang from the top of a yew and goldfinch chattered from the nearby ash. One long tailed tit made an appearance with dunnock singing in the bushes. A startled wood pigeon made a quick get-away across the canopy which contained a chaffinch.

Leaving the graveyard we moved along past Kirkgate Point where, over the beech hedge, a pheasant called while greylag with goslings fed and one Canada goose bobbed up and down behind a reed tuft. Tufted duck, mute swan and coot sailed over the water out towards St Serfs. A cheeky robin sang above us as a great tit hid behind the sycamore trunk. Perched on a bare branch by the expanse of the field, a buzzard sat.

Returning to the car park and sallying forth along the lochside listening for, and being rewarded with, a male sedge warbler singing its erratic and grating song. Looking skyward house martin flew above the restaurant and from the board walk a willow warbler rather aptly sang from a willow branch. Frustratingly we could hear the elusive blackcap fluting from the shrubbery. Stopping at the hide a couple of grey heron stood in the reeds and a pair of great crested grebe in courtship display. Halting at the bridge we watched a grey wagtail foraging in the shingle. A little further along the path two male and one female bullfinch appeared in a willow and against the grey sky a silhouetted song thrush sang.

Options presented themselves for lunch as some wished to picnic by the loch side and others chose to move onto RSPB Loch Leven Visitor Centre aka Vane Farm. From the first hide displaying lapwing disturbed snipe which flew off over the reeds. Sedge warbler plucked the fluffy seed head of the bulrushes while moorhen foraged along the shoreline. Brian kindly lined his telescope up on the barnacle geese and Elizabeth spotted teal on the far pool, with a flurry two redshank descended on the water's edge.

At hide two besides mallard, another pair of dabbling ducks, gadwall, were upending showing white vent contrasting with darker under tail coverts. They prefer pools or ponds less than 2 m deep and are confirmed vegetarians. Peeping through the viewing gaps in the fence approaching this hide a juvenile pied wagtail pecked along the puddle edge and a single downy gosling fed on the grass. A flock of tree sparrows frolicked about in the bush on the corner. Several times a swallow tried to enter the hide through the large open window, we suspected it was keen to nest there as evidence of a previous nest still remained. Two birds flew out over the area in front to the hide creating a discussion as to whether they were female or juvenile linnet. Consulting available book, we came to a reluctant conclusion they were juvenile linnet, as plumage was paler than adult but with streaking on the chest and long black tail with white flashes.

Skylark sang above the butterfly meadow and meadow pipit perched on the fence as we headed for the furthest hide which, in the main, is a black-headed gull roost. There, panting and seeking shade on the artificial island, a fluffy, brown, black spotted black-headed gull chick crouched. We were amused with the line of 13 goslings following the adult from the water onto the shore. Elizabeth and I discussed a lump in the reeds which, under scrutiny through the telescope, transpired to be a shoveler sitting on a nest with head under wing, meanwhile Caroline spotted a curlew on the far bank.

The clouds cleared and warm sun came out to complete a most enjoyable day with a total of 60 species of which we managed 43 at Kinross.

Winnie Thomson