• Habitat management at RSPB Lochwinnoch - Pt. 2

    As outlined in Part 1 of this blog, we’ve been working hard on Aird Meadow to cut back and remove the vegetation. By stripping out the nutrients in this way, we can knock back the dominant species such as grass and produce a habitat in which a greater diversity of plants, including wildflowers can establish themselves. In turn, we’ll attract more insects which will provide a food source for larger animals and support…

    • 19 Jan 2020
  • Volunteering with RSPB Scotland Lochwinnoch – Rachel Reid

    Words by Rachel Reid
    Photos by Robert Conn

    I have been volunteering with the RSPB Scotland Lochwinnoch reserve for almost two years now. I am a master’s student specialising in conservation biology with a specific interest in Scottish wildlife particularly birds and was keen to gain some experience in the field. There began one of the best chapters in my life which I am still enjoying to this very day and hopefully for…

    • 20 Nov 2019
  • Recent sightings – September 2019

    September is a time of change. The leaves start to change colour, the evenings start to darken earlier and before the month is out, there’s a definite nip in the air.

    It’s also a time of change in the world of wildlife, as our summer visitors start their migration to warmer climes and our winter visitors start to arrive. Despite this we still had a few summer stragglers waiting for the right time to make a move…

    • 12 Oct 2019
  • Recent sightings – August 2019

    As we moved into August, the number, variety and frequency of certain birds increased around the reserve.

    We were delighted to see a Mandarin duck on four separate days in the first half of the month, and a peak of 14 great-crested grebe, 20 goldeneye, 20 lapwing, 8 gadwall, and two days in which 200 tufted duck were counted and another day featuring 120!

    Mandarin duck (male)

    Unusually, we had a visit from a common…

    • 12 Oct 2019
  • Recent sightings – second half of July 2019

    The second half of July saw a number of highlights, with high numbers of a variety of wildfowl and waders visiting the reserve. This included 145 tufted duck, 77 mallard, 28 lapwing, 24 Canada geese, 13 great-crested grebe, 7 greylag geese, 3 oystercatchers and 2 little grebe, among goldeneye, water rail, snipe and a common sandpiper.

    There were still a range of summer visitors around the reserve, with grasshopper wa…

    • 12 Oct 2019
  • Habitat management at RSPB Lochwinnoch – Pt. 1

    By Joe Crossland

    You’ll have seen a few changes around the reserve in the last few months, some of the more noticeable additions being our sand martin bank and the floating rafts, which were detailed in an earlier blog. But there are also things happening that you may not have noticed at first glance… 

    Family Volunteers managing the meadow (Joe Crossland)

    Wildflower meadow management

    Wildflowers provide an important source of nectar and pollen for pollinators…

    • 4 Sep 2019
  • Recent Sightings - May

    Recent sightings May 2019

    May was a busy month, with some great sightings across the reserve, including osprey, ringed plover, little ringed plover, whimbrel, common sandpiper, garganey, stonechat and wheatear and a host of warblers. We’ll keep you updated on sightings are the summer progresses.

    Osprey seen on 7th, 11th, 12th and 30th May

    Sparrowhawk: 1 on 25th May

    Buzzard: 1 on 12th May, 2 on 20th May

    Great crested…

    • 7 Aug 2019
  • Recent sightings - June/July

    Recent sightings – June to mid-July 2019

    Our new bug viewers have been especially popular with our visitors, providing a glimpse into the normally hidden lives of a range of insects. One new resident is the leafcutter bee, which as its name suggests, cuts away sections of leaf from a plant, and then uses them to line its nest, typically in pre-existing cavities as we have here, or in rotting wood which they can…

    • 6 Aug 2019
  • Unleash your inner wild thing in our revamped natural play area!

    We are delighted to announce that our natural play area has reopened for monkey business!

    A popular attraction for our younger visitors, our natural play area is an open invitation to get close to nature. 

    We are very grateful to tree surgeons TD Tree and Land Services Ltd and our team of volunteers who contributed their expertise and hard graft to produce a high quality play experience for our young visitors. We intend…

    • 23 May 2019
  • Recent Sightings - April

    April was a good month, with little gull, garganey, marsh harrier, osprey, black-tailed godwit, greenshank and redshank all reserve highlights.

    Gadwall – various days throughout April, with the highest count being four on 1st April

    Redshank – 2nd April

    Sand martin – First on 2nd April

    Goldeneye – 53 on 2nd April, 11 on 17th April, 5 on 21st April

    Swallow – First on 3rd April

    Pinkfooted geese…

    • 9 May 2019
  • Recent Sightings

    Marsh Harrier - 5 April

    Osprey - 2 April

    Garganey (m & f) - 9 April

    Willow Warbler - 9 April

    Blackcap - 9 April

    Chiffchaff - 9 April

    Greenshank - 7 April

    Redshank - 2 April

    Kingfisher - 9 April

    Nuthatch - 29 March

    Gadwall - 9 April

    Goldeneye - 9 April

    Sand Martin - 9 April

    Treecreeper - 9 April

    • 9 Apr 2019
  • Closure of the photo hide

    As some of you may know, we have taken the hard decision to close our photo hide at the end of April. The hide has been in operation for some time but is coming to the end of its useful life. The structure is ageing and in need of increasing repairs and maintenance, and managing the facility is taking up a large amount of staff time in a period when we need to concentrate our effort on the reserve as a whole. 

    Our priority…

    • 3 Apr 2019
  • Habitat creation at the reserve

    You may have noticed a few changes around the reserve recently. The most obvious being the large wooden sand martin bank which was built by and installed by our crack team of practical volunteers. Each hole you can see contains a tube of sand, ready to be excavated by nesting sand martins, who would normally tunnel into river banks and sand dunes to create a nest. We’re hoping our artificial bank will prove attractive…

    • 6 Mar 2019
  • Recent sightings - February 2019

    It’s been a busy time here at RSPB Lochwinnoch with a wide variety of sightings across the reserve. One stand-out visitor has to be the little egret that dropped in on 4 February – quite a rare occurrence for this part of the world.

    Little egret

    The little egret, photographed by RSPB Lochwinnoch's Visitor Experience Officer, Robert Conn.

    We’ve also been treated to large numbers of wildfowl around the reserve this…

    • 2 Mar 2019
  • New nesting rafts installed at RSPB Scotland Lochwinnoch as part of Garnock Connections

    As we approach National Nestbox Week, RSPB Scotland Lochwinnoch has been getting ahead of the game with a series of artificial nesting solutions that will hopefully appeal to a range of different species this spring.

    RSPB Scotland Lochwinnoch is a fantastic place to see birds all year round, from the woodland birds that come to the feeders just outside the visitor centre, to the whooper swans that glide majestically…

    • 5 Feb 2019
  • The globetrotting gulls of Horse Island

    If you’ve ever been to the isle of Arran by ferry, just as you leave Ardrossan harbour, you may have noticed a small island with an unusual tower and an unusual name. Horse Island is an important site for breeding gulls, and every year RSPB Lochwinnoch staff and volunteers carry out an annual survey of the breeding birds.

    Horse Island, from the Arran ferry (Joe Crossland).


    Birds are also ringed on the island by…

    • 3 Nov 2018
  • Recent sightings - September 2018

    September is a time of contrasts. It can sometimes feel like the summer has been extended, continuing as it often does into the middle of September, but give it a few weeks and by the end of the month summer can feel like a distant memory. A mass sprouting of fungi, and a costume change in the trees resulting in a blaze of autumn colour are the final moments of glory before the shorter and colder days of winter arrive…

    • 27 Oct 2018
  • Hidden Peel Tower set to reveal its secrets

    Did you know you can see two ruined castles from the RSPB Lochwinnoch reserve? Those familiar with the landscape surrounding Lochwinnoch will know the ruined Barr Castle, that sits in a field to the west of the village, but there’s another less known castle, and it’s hidden away from sight on the reserve.

    The Peel Tower, as it’s known, is a fortified tower house, built as a defensive structure by the local…

    • 21 Oct 2018
  • Sightings - 17 October 2018


    3 fieldfare
    14 great crested grebe
    7 whooper swans
    1 pochard
    1 goldeneye
    10 snipe
    4 shoveler
    1 kingfisher

    Full sightings board:

    • 18 Oct 2018
  • Recent sightings – summer 2018

    Today seems a little colder, there’s a breeze in the air, the sky is overcast and dare I say it, it feels a little like autumn. The birds have noticed too – we have seen increasing numbers of wintering wildfowl on the reserve this week.

    Today, our warden Dan counted 240 tufted duck out on the Barr Loch, along with 28 mute swan, 8 greylag geese and 25 great-crested grebes – some of the latter in family groups…

    • 19 Aug 2018
  • Sightings - July 2017

    Sightings – July 2017

    July was a great month to see baby birds. Our camera traps captured some lovely footage of a mute swan with a cygnet and a family of mallards. The woodland feeding station also attracted lots of young garden birds such as chaffinches, blue tits and house sparrows.

    We had some fantastic moths turn up in the moth traps too, including the fabulous pink and green elephant hawkmoth, intricately…

    • 7 Oct 2017
  • Sightings - June 2017

    We had some very exciting visitors to the reserve in June. We started the month with a visit from a peregrine falcon.

                Peregrine falcon

    Although native to Scotland, peregrines are not a common sight here at Lochwinnoch. In addition to this, we recorded our first ever sighting of a pale prominent moth. You can read more about this moth and the moth-trapping technique we use to capture an amazing variety of…

    • 10 Sep 2017
  • Recent sightings - May 2017

    May was a fantastic month, not just weather-wise, but also with a number of interesting visitors that arrived on the reserve.

    The distinctive call of a cuckoo was heard and a scaup and a flock of 40 whimbrel were also seen at the beginning of the month.




    Towards the end of May, a Marsh Harrier and Black-tailed Godwit were spotted.

                Marsh harrier


    • 10 Sep 2017
  • Get stuck into Family Volunteering at RSPB Lochwinnoch

    Family volunteering at RSPB Lochwinnoch is a great way to get outdoors, do something positive for nature and enjoy some quality time with your loved ones. Volunteers get stuck into a fantastic variety of tasks and learn about conservation methods along the way, gaining an insight into what happens ‘behind the scenes’ at a nature reserve.

    “I like helping nature! It’s good exercise and you get to see loads…
    • 10 Jul 2017
  • First recording sighting of rare moth gets RSPB Lochwinnoch in a flap!

    During our routine moth trap checks earlier this month, once species generated some excitement among the moth enthusiasts here at Lochwinnoch. Creamy in colour, slightly fluffy with delicately speckled wings, the pale prominent moth (Latin name Pterostoma palpina) has never been recorded on our reserve before – it’s typically found in the south of the UK and across Europe. It lives in deciduous woodland and it’s perfectly…
    • 27 Jun 2017