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.

In this period of change there is often a crossover of birds on the reserve; many of our summer visitors are still around, waiting for the impetus of a temperature drop to push off to warmer climes, while some of our winter visitors are heading south to stay ahead of the colder northern winters.

And so it proved this year, with the ospreys sticking around until 10th September, pink-footed geese being seen for three consecutive days from the 24th, and the first of the whooper swans arriving on the 27th.

The osprey is a summer visitor to Lochwinnoch.

The whooper swan is a winter visitor to Lochwinnoch (pic: Joe Crossland).

We also had some great wildfowl counts, with 174 tufted duck, 145 coot, 100 mallard, 67 wigeon, 41 teal, 35 mute swan, 21 Canada geese, 20 great-crested grebe, 15 snipe, 11 little grebe.

A male tufted duck (pic: Joe Crossland).

These counts will surely increase over the coming months, but it’s great to see good numbers already. Sightings of goldeneye, gadwall, pintail, pochard, goosander and three water rail in one day were also added to the September count, and we look forward to having more regular sightings of these beautiful birds over the winter.

A male goldeneye (pic: Joe Crossland).

September was also a good month for raptors, with marsh harrier, hen harrier, sparrowhawk, buzzard, and barn owl all out and about on the reserve, and all being seen on the same day when we carried out our hen harrier roost survey.

Barn owl.

Finally, we had an unusual visitor 20 September – a sandwich tern. It’s a coastal bird that we don’t often see on the reserve, and they sometimes use lochs down the coast as stopping off points on their winter migration to Africa, so it could be that’s what this one was up to.

Sandwich tern.

We’ll continue to post updates on the latest news – here’s to a busy few months of winter sightings!