We are now nearing the end of October here at RSPB Lochwinnoch, which means autumn is finally here. There has been plenty of work being done on the reserve this month, the wellness in nature walk is now up and running. This walk was created by our Visitor Experience Officer, Carole MacFayden, and is designed as a safe green space that will allow you to immerse yourself in nature. If you have been feeling stressed or anxious, take some time out at the RSPB and relax surrounded by nature. So many more people are now starting to appreciate and find solace in their local green spaces and there are many benefits to mental health by getting yourself outside and appreciating what nature has to offer.


There has been a lot of heavy machinery out on the reserve over October. Much of the work that takes place on the reserve is to try and encourage a wide diversity of wildlife by creating a mixture of different types of habitats. This means creating a mixture of long and short vegetation, creating islands in the water and pools and channels on the dryer ground. Artscape Gardens Ltd have carried out work on the Aird Meadow wetlands to create more water and mud at the edges of the wetland which will especially benefit wading birds and ducks. You can read more about this here - https://community.rspb.org.uk/placestovisit/lochwinnoch/b/lochwinnoch-blog/posts/new-habitat-creation


Machinery being used to create different habitats


October has seen the reserve welcoming the arrival of many winter migrants which makes it a very exciting time for wildlife watching. The whooper swans have arrived and can often be spotted on the Aird Meadow Loch or Barr Loch. Whooper swans are smaller than mute swans, they also have a long bill that is mostly yellow with a black tip. Whooper swans spend their summers in Iceland, Scandinavia, Northern Russia and Northern Asia and over 4 thousand of them migrate to the UK to spend the winter months.


Whooper swan on Aird Meadow


October has also seen the arrival of different species of geese most notably the Canada geese with over 50 counted on the Aird Meadow Loch. Flocks of geese will make their way from Greenland, Svalbard and Iceland every winter in impressive numbers. There have also been large numbers of tufted ducks spotted with over 70 counted on the Barr Loch and over 60 counted on the Aird Meadow Loch. Teal have also been seen on the Aird Meadow Loch. Lapwing have been spotted on the Aird Meadow enjoying the muddy habitat.


Lapwing on the Aird Meadow, Photo by Rachel Reid


Long tailed tits were frequently spotted on the Aird Meadow trail this month, these hyperactive little birds delight everyone that spots them by flying around in their family groups looking for food and chatting amongst themselves. They are very social birds and will huddle close to the other members of their group to keep warm. Long tailed tits have been doing very well in recent years with their numbers flourishing. Another very exciting sighting was a green sandpiper which was spotted on the Aird Meadow Loch. Another less expected visitor to the reserve this moth was the ruddy shelduck which was spotted on the Aird Meadow Loch. These are an alien species not native to Scotland. It originates from Southern Europe, North Africa, South and Central Asia but they have now been recorded in Scotland, England, Wales, and Ireland which is most likely due to them being released or having escaped.


Ruddy shelduck on the Aird Meadow, Photo by Ally Dowd.

Rachel Reid - Visitor Engagement Volunteer