Things change so fast this time of year that it can sometimes be hard to keep up!
Despite the short recent cold snap, which included a small dusting of snow up here, much of our wildlife has begun the first stage of spring breeding- courtship. You may well have noticed yourself a significant increase in the amount of bird song in gardens and woodlands, as male birds begin to proclaiming and protect nesting territories. Here are some other things to look out for:
- Brown Hares chasing and boxing in arable fields- actually courtship in action as males chased sometimes unwilling females.
- Listen for Tawny Owls calling at night- February is their most vocal time as they court.
- Crossbills are also early breeders- sometimes as early as January so listen for them in pine woods.
- Black Grouse begin courtship in earnest usually in March- on Perthshire’s moors the males display and dance to impress females on ‘leks’.
- Watch Herons as they nest and even laying eggs- very early spring breeders, even by February.
- Badgers are already breeding underground and many mammals are more active. Red Squirrels will start collecting nesting materials for their drays- as mouthfuls!
- Enjoy Snowdrops and early wildflowers such as Wood Anemone, particularly good at our Brerachan and Keltneyburn Meadow reserves.
- Enjoy early spring tree catkins and blossom such as Hazel andWillow, particularly around the Lochs.
- Enjoy our winter visitors, such as Geese and ducks (spectacular at our sister Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve, Montrose Basin) before they leave for their summer arctic breeding grounds: Pink-footed and Greylag geese, Whooper swans, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard and Goldeneye.
- Keep your eye out for the first of our spring migrants such as swallows, flycatchers, and warblers coming up from Africa- and of course Ospreys, due here around the end of March, or the beginning of April.
Amazingly there have even been a couple of sightings of Ospreys in the southern UK over the weekend- if confirmed these will be truly early birds!
Please be aware that due to building works, our Visitor Centre at Loch of the Lowes is closed Monday – Friday until approximately the 12th March. We are still open on Saturdays and Sundays until then. Thanks for your patience.