This morning, as the morning mist lifted from Loch of the Lowes to reveal plant, animal and birdlife in abundance, it more than lived up to its description – “nature reserve”.
In autumn, with the busy osprey watching season over until next year, all the other wildlife comes out on display. This peaceful valley and loch create a haven for wildfowl, some passing through, some here for the winter. There were more tufted ducks than mallard this week and the great crested grebes glide serenely between golden eye,canada geese and mute swans.
We have now placed a camera near the otter holt which should also give views of pine marten and perhaps our occasional visitor – a beaver.
In the woodland surrounding the loch, fallow deer graze in the dappled sunshine filtering through increasingly bare branches. We are in that “in-between” time: green foliage is mingling with pale gold, deep orange and flame red autumn leaves. Red squirrels scamper around, chasing each other up trees and sending the branches swinging as they leap through the upper canopy.
Hedgerow fruits like brambles, rowan berries and rose hips are ripening to provide a good wildlife larder. Fabulous fungi of every hue can be seen nestling in the undergrowth or gleaming from fallen tree trunks.
As always, the feeding station outside the Visitor Centre’s viewing window is a hive of activity! Siskins and coal tits are vying for top place in the bird counts today, with chaffinch, great tit, blue tit and great spotted woodpeckers in contention. Little bank voles scurry among the undergrowth, delighting visitors by scooting across open ground or exploring the peanut feeders.
We now know of seven individual squirrels who come regularly to our feeders and have compiled a gallery of photos. Come along and see which ones you can see?
We will be open everyday for the next month and then, from 1st November, the Visitor Centre goes down to winter hours: Friday, Saturday and Sunday.