The wind and rain of the past two days has certainly brought the feel of autumn to the reserve. The woods around the visitors centre are busy with fallow deer, and the males can be heard making their rutting calls early morning and evening, which sounds like an eerie croak echoing around the valley. Our local fallow deer are much darker and greyer than average and lack the clear spotted reddish coats of more southern populations- making them hard to spot in the woods locally, but you can certainly hear them!
Our numbers of Tufted duck and Goldeneye on the loch are getting higher by the day and today they were joined by a lovely male Pochard, which is not a common sight here, with its red head, grey back and white tipped bill.
You may have noticed myself and two of our volunteers out and about the reserve today, checking and cleaning nest boxes. We have more than two dozen boxes in the area immediately around the loch, of all different shapes ands sizes to help different bird species. Autumn is the ideal time to clean and renovate boxes, as this means they are perfect for winter roosting and ready for next spring- the birds having had plenty of time to get used to them. If you have nest boxes at home, now is the right time to get them down to give them a scrub (remember no harsh chemicals inside) and if they have not been used for more than a season or two, relocate them to a better aspect (remember birds can be fussy about prevailing winds and strong sunlight) until you find a spot they like.
If you haven’t already got boxes up, now is the perfect time to add them to your garden. We have a school group visiting Lowes tomorrow to help us make more new nest boxes to improve the habitat for nesting birds in our ‘new’ area of woodlands around the loch.