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 month, including 250 Canada geese, 208 wigeon, 185 tufted duck, 138 goldeneye, 105 teal, 80 greylag geese, 60 coot, 49 mute swan and 45 goosander.

It was also lovely to see 40 lapwing and 75 black-headed gulls swooping above the reserve in early February, but it’s not all about the big numbers. We’ve also had some welcome sightings of other birds in smaller numbers around the reserve, including two little grebe and four great-crested grebes, one pink-footed goose (on the meadow with a flock of greylag geese), one curlew, eight whooper swans, one water rail, five oystercatchers, six snipe, and this week, two woodcock.

On the feeders, we’ve had all the usual suspects, but we’re also happy to report a number of less common species, including redpoll, brambling, siskin and bullfinch which have added a splash of colour and variety for anyone watching through the visitor centre windows. Sparrowhawks have also been making a regular appearance around the feeding station, often sitting in a bush at ground level, biding their time and waiting for the right moment to strike. One sparrowhawk, who had managed to catch a starling, had some difficulty taking off with a heavy and struggling load, but whether by accident or instinct, the sparrowhawk landed in the pond, and held firm until its prey struggled no more.

Sparrowhawk with starling

The sparrowhawk holds the starling under water (visible beneath its right wing), photographed by volunteer Joe Crossland.

Elsewhere, we’ve seen kingfishers and dippers on the river Calder and 15 fieldfare arrived on 4th February, while we also saw two goldcrest, a nuthatch and heard a tawny owl calling in the woods.

Away from the birds, we were also delighted to see a roe deer exploring the Aird Meadow in mid-February, an otter at the beginning and end of the month, and our first bees of the year – a buff-tailed bumblebee on 25th February, and several honey bees a day later. Their emergence was no doubt due to the period of unseasonably warm weather we experienced at the end of the month, widely reported as the warmest February we have seen in the UK since records began.

Buff-tailed bumblebee

The buff-tailed bumblebee, photographed by RSPB Lochwinnoch's Visitor Experience Officer, Robert Conn.

As Spring starts to release Winter’s icy grip, we’ll keep you up to date with all the latest happenings on the reserve – and please do share your sightings and photographs with us via Twitter and Facebook – we love hearing about your trips to Lochwinnoch!

Sightings round-up

Little grebe (2)
Great crested grebe (4)
Cormorant (14)
Little Egret – 4th February
Mute swan (49)
Whooper swan (8)
Greylag goose (80 on 14th Feb)
Canada goose (250 on 5th Feb)
Pink-footed goose (22nd Feb)
Curlew (22nd Feb)
Wigeon (208 on 16th Feb)
Teal (105 on 4th Feb)
Tufted duck (185 on 16th Feb)
Goldeneye (138 on 3rd Feb)
Goosander (45 on 8th Feb)
Sparrowhawk (2 on 6th Feb)
Water Rail
Coot (60 on 1st Feb)
Oystercatcher (5 on 10th Feb)
Lapwing (40 on 1st Feb)
Snipe (6 on 11th Feb)
Black-headed gull (75 on 3rd Feb)
Tawny owl (4th Feb)
Fieldfare (15 on 4th Feb)
Goldcrest (2 on 1st Feb)
Two Woodcock (27 Feb)
Redpoll (18 Feb)
Brambling (21 Feb)
Nuthatch (22nd Feb)
Bullfinch (2 on 27th Feb)

Otter (7 Feb, 27 Feb)
Roe deer (13 Feb)
Buff-tailed bumblebee (25 Feb)
Honey bees (26 Feb)