The colder weather has brought a proper winter feel to Loch of the Lowes, which has been missing for the last week or so. This morning a hoar frost had gilt all the trees, especially the delicate tracery of the silver birches. The woods look like they’ve been dipped in white silver and the ground crunches hard beneath your feet- wonderful!
The loch has quickly started to freeze and though still thin, the ice is pushing all the waterfowl closer together in the remaining open water areas.
This afternoon, we had four Mute swans, ten Whooper swans, and a couple of hundred Mallards, Wigeon, Goldeneye and Tufted duck in just one small area. Further out on the loch there was a mixed roost of approximately 1200 gulls, both common and black headed, huddled on the ice. Yesterday there were also over 200 Greylag geese and more than 100 Canada geese, and a few Cormorants, Great Crested Grebes, Coots and Pochard to boot!
Elsewhere on our Perthshire reserves, this last week has mostly been about checking and repairing storm damage to paths, fences etc on our more remote reserve sites. The good news is that the Tummel Shingle Islands and Balnaguard access paths are all now reopen and passable, though extreme caution is needed as they are wet/icy underfoot in winter. Keltneyburn and Brerachan meadow are also now fully accessible with care. Today’s ranger highlight from Balnaguard: a brown hare in the frost and this wonderful view of the Tay valley from the top of the reserve: