RSPB Scotland Loch Leven's Writer in Residence Anita John brings us the latest sightings from the reserve and is helping to gather stories as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations. Anita writes:

The latest count of pink-footed geese to whiffle into Loch Leven in November was 13,151. It was a privilege to see the "pinkies" depart in the early morning and return to the reserve at dusk. 

"Pinkies" departing the reserve (Photo: Uwe Stoneman)

One cold November evening I watched them descend and marvelled as they swept in across the skyline from the furthest horizon: dark swirls at first like iron filings attracted by the magnet of their home. Then came the yammer of their call, the beat of their wings and the enormous clatter and clamour of the skein as it dropped to the water and the safety of its night-time roost at Loch Leven.

"Pinkies" before departing (Photo: Uwe Stoneman)

As well as geese, flocks of curlew came home to roost at the water's edge. There was magic in their wings glinting silver in the last of the day's sun.

Curlews at the reserve (Photo: Paul Ashcroft)

Other geese counted on the loch in November included 407 greylag, 6 barnacle geese and one snow goose.

Greylag geese (Photo: Alex Gilfillan)

During November we've also had visits from goosanders, pintails, pochards, goldeneyes, shovelers, tufted ducks (142), teal (230 plus), a single slavonian grebe in winter plumage and numerous pairs of great crested grebes.

Male & female goosanders (Photo: Alex Gilfillan)

Fieldfares have been seen flitting between the hides as well as a flock of 20 long tailed tits with their wavering flight and trill. Alighting in the birch and willow, long tailed tits remind me of Christmas baubles as they dance in the branches in a noisy, social gathering.

Fieldfare at Loch Leven (Photo: Paul Ashcroft)

Then there is also the lapwing success story. In 2016 RSPB Scotland Loch Leven installed a predator fence to try to help build numbers of successful lapwing fledglings - and - GOOD NEWS! - latest figures suggest it is working!


Lapwing pair (Photo: Alex Gilfillan)

A target of 0.7 fledged chicks per pair is used to determine if a lapwing population is sustainable and in 2017 the reserve reached 0.89 chicks per pair - the best result over the past seven years, during which lapwings breeding at the reserve had seen a serious decline. Out of the 45 nests created by 27 pairs of birds in total, 24 lapwing chicks fledged successfully and will most likely go on to breed.

Lapwing flock (Photo: Alex Gilfillan)
We look forward to lapwing flocks filling the sky once more over RSPB Scotland Loch Leven!