I've been the residential volunteer at RSPB Scotland Loch Lomond for 3 months now. Here are some of my favourite encounters in that time and my new found hobby.

It was early in the morning and I was still in my bed listening to the birdsong coming from outside. The hedgerows opposite my window in our residential volunteer accommodation are usually full of great and blue tits singing from its branches every day from sunrise. But the noise that woke me up that morning was quite different, more high pitched than any tit but considerably weaker. After a long battle against my tiredness I got up and opened my window. I was expecting to spot the common bulky yellow silhouette of the great tit in between the bushes, but it was a song thrush that flew out suddenly right in front of me. The high pitch sound had increased and I noticed then it seemed to come from right under my window sill! Being as cautious as I am capable of at 7am on a Saturday, I moved aside a couple of leaves from the bramble growing under my window to take a picture of whatever was hidden behind.

Song thrush nest under my window with four chicks calling for breakfast.

I didn’t want to break up such a nice family, so I decided not to open my window until they fledged to avoid disturbance. They decided to leave four days later, but they seemed to be quite comfortable at home as they only fledged from my windowsill to the windowsill of my our other volunteer, where they resumed with their morning songs (a bit further away from me this time).

I’d also like to tell you about one of my new favourite pastimes that I have adopted since volunteering at RSPB Loch Lomond. My new hobby is moths! Those harmful, small, dull creatures that sneak into your wardrobe on a summer’s night to have your blankets and clothes as a supper. That’s what many people (me included) thought about moths before I came here. But I’d like to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions about these fascinating creatures.
Moth trapping involves setting up a light trap overnight to attract the moths and catch them. The next morning we carefully identify the moths caught overnight and record them before setting them free again.

Only two out of 135000 species of moths are known to feed on bi-products of animals, such as leather or wool, whereas the huge majority feed on sugary substances from flowers or insects, as butterflies do. This white ermine from a week ago primarily consumes nectar.

You wouldn’t think so after looking at one of the four poplar hawk moths I caught after a warm night in July. With a wingspan of 6.5-9 cm and it is one of the biggest you can find on the reserve.

The garden tiger moth, the elephant hawk moth and the buff tip are my favourites so far, their striking colours have nothing to envy from many butterflies. These beautiful examples became regulars in the moth trap this summer. The buff tip moth doesn’t match the others in colour, but their perfect camouflage resembling a birch twig left me astounded since my first encounter.

Garden tiger moth

Elephant hawk moth.

Buff Tip moth.

You can get up close to these creatures at some of our events. Coming up we've got a Mini-beast Safari this Friday (10 August) and a Bat and Moth Night on Friday 31 August. Full details can be found here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/loch-lomond/