A day for Leucistic sightings today at Loch of the Lowes, with not one, but two animals turning up with this unusual colouration. Leucsitic animals lack pigment in some or most of their pelt or plumage and display white fur or feathers, but which sometimes still have a ‘ghost’ of the typical species markings just visible. Leucism is a mutation that is usually on a recessive gene, therefore not common as both parents must carry the gene for it to appear in offspring.
These animals are often mistakenly termed ‘albino’ which is a much rarer and more serious condition, in which all tissues lack pigment including eyes etc, and in nature these do not often survive.
This morning a male chaffinch turned up at our feeding station, with an entirely white head and neck, despite having normal wings and belly- a most dashing look!
This afternoon, several of us saw a beautiful white Fallow deer hind grazing on the far side of the loch, near the osprey nest. These deer are very pale cream colour and show very subtle spots typical of the species on their sides in a darker shade of cream. It seems that the Dunkeld population has an unusually high number of these leucisitc individuals, so keep an eye out for them- folklore tells that they are very good luck and somewhat magical!
I saw the deer this afternoon as I was undertaking some coppicing work along the near loch shore, done to maintain hide views. Fast growing trees such as Willow and Alder respond well to being cut back and do not die – they will produce masses of new bushy growth next spring, which will provide better habitat and cover for small birds etc.
This process is done on rotation every few years, and will soon grow back, and disguise the stumps. We hope you enjoy the clearer hide views next time you visit.