Cara has been volunteering with us since September and in a couple of weeks she's off to monitor terns for the summer! Her time here has flown by and we wish her all the best with her future plans.

Here Cara writes about some of the things she's been up to since arriving here. 

There’s been lots of different work going on at RSPB Loch Lomond this winter. The main challenge early on was tackling the large expanse of Himalayan Balsam that seemed to have appeared everywhere! With the help of the fantastic volunteers we managed to shift huge amounts of the recurring pesky plant so that millions of seeds are now safely composting elsewhere. Our final attempt, however, was thwarted by a massive amount of flooding as you can see from volunteer Joe in his waders:

Another task early on was taking out some scrub at ring point which was done with the help of 3 Scottish Power corporate work parties. They were a hard-working, fun bunch and it was one of my best weeks here. We also managed to remove a lot of scrub to open the area up for roosting geese.

Before the weather got too frosty the lovely willow sculptures were taken in and treated for the winter and are safely awaiting spring. On the dry days myself and Joe spent a lot of time scrubbing down and treating the beautiful sculpted benches to protect them from the elements. Other visitor infrastructure work involved widening and de-weeding the paths around the Airey Woodland trail and towards the viewpoint to keep them open.

You may have noticed that the pond at the pond dipping area now looks more like a pond! In addition to removing the vegetation around the side while trussed up in waders we have also increased the water level. The height of the water was restricted by that of the bank so with some plastic boards, wooden stakes and a load of sand bags we have managed to reinforce and slightly build the bank to keep more water in. This provides more habitat and will also hopefully make pond dipping in summer a little easier.

Throughout the season one of the highlights for me has been the wildlife surveys. We have had some fantastic sightings including hen harriers and a beautiful peregrine falcon highlighted by the setting sun. The dawn goose counts see hundreds, sometimes thousands of geese passing overhead from their roosting spot.

If you’ve been down to the visitor car park of late you will have seen the fence posts that have been installed by Joe and I to delineate car parking spaces. Wood has been sawn and sanded for plaques to be painted and put up at a later date.

Most recently the bulk of the work has been fencing. This has included taking fences down to open up areas, or in preparation for contractor work and repairing and building small sections of fence to keep cattle out during the grazing season. Here is one of the volunteers, Bob, having a well-deserved wee rest after rolling up this long stretch of stock netting.