RSPB Scotland Loch Leven's Writer in Residence Anita John brings us the latest sightings from the reserve:

A cold and blustery day at RSPB Scotland Loch Leven but signs of spring are beginning to show!

Firstly, our resident red squirrels are being seen more frequently foraging for food  - their tree climbing agility and nut-finding antics never failing to amuse!

This year, their antics can be enjoyed as part of free primary and nursery school visits thanks to a continuing partnership between the RSPB and supermarket chain Aldi. All school visits are led by our Community Learning Officer, Craig Leitch, and assisted by newly appointed intern Val Brookes. For details please contact the reserve.


Secondly, the snowdrops are out in abundance in the wildlife garden, as are the willow catkins along the Heritage Walk.

There is still a bite to the air, however, and the recent cold weather has brought in flocks of curlews, whooper swans, goldeneyes, teals and wigeons to the reserve. It's exciting to watch the wigeons fly in tight formation over the flood, and to hear their whistling call, so evocative of winter wetlands. There are 400 breeding pairs of wigeons in the UK but these are joined by birds from Iceland, Scandanavia and Russia to bring the wintering numbers to around 440,000.

Whether over the wetlands, or closer to the reserve, wildfowl and wildlife never cease to delight. While typing this blog a small group of long tailed tits dropped by outside the window, hanging upside down to feed on the shrubs and trees in the wildlife garden and entertaining us with their spirited antics. They are like a breath of fresh air, these tiny birds with their creamy brown and purple-pink feathers, but they never stay for long, arriving in a babble of excitement and leaving just as quickly. Perhaps therein lies their beauty; here then gone. And we have to make the most of them when they grace us with their presence.

The garden birds were particularly lively in the front garden at the time of writing and at least 15 tree sparrows were sighted on the feeders. Yet another busy day of wildlife sightings at RSPB Scotland Loch Leven!

Photo credits: Red squirrel (Alex Gilfilllan); Snowdrops (Anita John); Wigeon (Paul Ashcroft); Long tailed tit (Marcus Hill); Tree sparrow (Paul Ashcroft)

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