The first Whooper swans flew into theLoch of the the Lowes this morning- six graceful shapes overhead, with a rather less graceful sound! Their ‘whooping’ call, trumpeted loudly in flight and on the water, is distinctive, and even louder than the local Canada geese, so they stood out on the still morning air.
These swans are one of our three native species in the UK and clearly recognisable by their long straight necks and yellow and black bills. They breed in the far north in summer, the majority of UK birds in Iceland, and are now arriving back with this years grey cygnets in tow. I had the pleasure of working with these birds very closely during my year at Caerlaverock and have developed a great fondness for them, and their amazing migratory journeys. Their voices may be harsh, but it is the classic soundtrack to winter waterside in many parts of theUK.
The birds we saw this morning will probably begin to roost either on Lowes or on another nearby loch and will feed in stubble and potato fields etc around the district this winter. Keep you eyes out for them and if you see any with Darvic rings (colour coded leg bands with letter and numbers) be sure to report them.
The other highlight at Lowes this week has been the really good numbers of Treecreeper sightings, wee mouse like birds typically seen scurrying up the tree trunks, and flocks of Long Tailed Tits seen around the car park and woodland walk
Remember that as of tomorrow, Loch of the Lowes Visitors Centre goes over to Winter Opening hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 10.30 to 4pm daily. Outside those times you can still enjoy a walk at Lowes or use the Observation hide, but please be aware that full facilities will not be available.