The days are starting to markedly draw in and there’s definitely a chill in the air at RSPB Loch Lomond. Misty mornings reveal glistening spider webs and the late rising sun dapples through the multi-coloured autumn leaves. The air tastes fresher somehow and there’s a sense of purpose in the wildlife that scutter and flit between the many branches and shrubs. The hasty rush to stock up while the weather remains calm.
A mixed flock of Tits pick at branches in search of their invertebrate prey, and a Tree creeper works its way systematically up the mossy trunk of an old Oak tree. Its acorns are fully formed now, and they drop to the leafy ground to be quickly collected by a busy Red squirrel. Which, in its turn, scrambles up an ivy-covered Alder and performs an acrobatic tight-rope display across the thin branches there. A slightly melancholy song pierces the air- a Robin, defiantly clinging to its territory throughout the colder months.
The pinpricks of red amongst the foliage are the berries of Hawthorn, a vital supply of food for the birds during the winter. The berry crop in Britain is often so good that migrants will cross the North Sea just to feed on it. A 'tsee' call from high in a spruce tree announces the arrival of one of these birds- the Redwing. A creamy strip above the eye and orange-red flank marks it out from the similarly sized Song thrush. There are only a few now but we can expect larger flocks of around 50-100 of these birds, intermixed with our other winter thrush- the Fieldfare, later in the month. The main attraction however is yet to arrive in force. During winter, a spectacular display awaits, with thousands of geese coming in to roost on site each night. Some of these will have travelled all the way from Greenland to spend their winters here. Their calls will fill the sky and their V-shaped formations will turn many a head upwards. So, for now, we sit and wait, enjoying the autumnal sun while it still lasts!
By Ash-Lynn Tavener
A red squirrel in Ring wood, holding a mushroom. By Ian Fulton
Hire-A-Guide Sunrise/Sunset walks
Thousands of geese spend the winter feeding and roosting around the Loch Lomond area. Your personal guide will walk you to one of their favourite spots, where you will watch as the geese fly overhead, with stunning views of the loch as the backdrop. These walks are best at dawn or dusk and pre-booking is essential. Available November 2019 – March 2020. Please try to give us as much notice as possible to avoid disappointment. Cost: £50 for 2 people plus £10 per extra person (5 max). (For RSPB members £42 for 2, then £8 per extra person, up to 5 people). Current Scottish government guidelines will apply. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 01389 830670 for bookings and enquiries
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