That’s another year over and to truly celebrate entering into a new year let's look over some of the highlights at the reserve over 2021. March was a very exciting month for the reserve as not only did we have a whopping count of 80 whooper swans we also had a scaup visit the reserve. These red listed birds are the rarest breeding bird in the UK making it a fantastic sighting for the reserve.


Whooper swans on the reserve


Scaup on the reserve


As we entered into the breeding season in May everyone was delighted to see an abundance of new life on the reserve as we saw many successful breeding efforts. This included plenty of cygnets, ducklings as well as moorhen and coot chicks. A male garganey was also spotted on the Aird meadow loch in May, these birds are very scarce and secretive in the UK therefore it was very exciting to have one spotted on the reserve.


Male garganey on the Aird Meadow Loch


It was fledgling galore around the reserve in June as juvenile birds such as robins, blue tits and great tits made their own way in the world. A spotted flycatcher also bred in one of the nest boxes on the Aird meadow trail and in fantastic news the chicks all managed to fledge.


Spotted flycatcher on the Aird Meadow trail, Photograph by Rachel Reid


Juvenile Robin on the Aird Meadow trail, Photograph by Rachel Reid


During late July a water rail was frequently spotted on the reserve, this is very exciting as these elusive birds are usually very hard to spot and often only heard. July was also a great time to spot butterflies, particularly as the new butterfly feeding station was added to the Aird Meadow trail. Peacock, tortoiseshell, and ringlet butterflies were among the many species that could be seen on the reserve.


Water rail photographed on the reserve


Ringlet butterfly photographed on the reserve


As we entered August nuthatches including juveniles, delighted visitors at the feeding station on the Aird meadow trail and became a regular sighting throughout the months. Marsh harriers were also spotted flying over the Barr loch and on the 18th of August an Osprey was seen successfully fishing from the reserve. These stunning birds of prey incite such joy from everyone when they are spotted.


Nuthatch on the Aird Meadow trail, Photograph by Rachel Reid


Osprey flying over the reserve – Len McDonald

September was a very exciting month as a great white egret decided to visit the reserve, this bird is very rarely seen in Scotland, therefore it was a wonderful surprise to have one visit and stay for several days. There were 45 great crested grebes counted on the Barr Loch in September, 18 of them juveniles after we had at least six successful breeding pairs. It is fantastic to see these elegant waterbirds doing so well after historically being hunted to near extinction in the UK.


Great white egret photographed at the Barr loch


Great crested grebes


October was a great month to spot wildlife on the reserve. The habitat work on the scrape allowed for exposed muddy areas to attract an abundance of birdlife including snipe and lapwing with 38 common snipe being counted on the channel. October also saw the return of many wintering birds as the whooper swans steadily arrived back at the reserve and the trails were full of flocks of excitable long tailed tits. There was also the surprise visit of a ruddy shelduck on the Aird meadow, which are not a native species in Scotland.


Lapwing on the Aird Meadow, Photograph by Rachel Reid


Ruddy shelduck on the Aird Meadow, Photography by Ally Dowd


In November the male hen harrier was spotted on different occasions flying over the reserve. These beautiful birds of prey have been declining over the years leading to them becoming red listed. November also saw the arrival of some exciting new visitors including an American wigeon as well as a redhead and drake smew. All in all 2021 has seen a fantastic variety of wildlife around the RSPB Lochwinnoch.


Hen harrier flying over the reserve, Photograph by Len McDonald

Written by Rachel Reid - Volunteer