July has been an exciting and eventful month here at the RSPB Lochwinnoch reserve with both staff and volunteers hard at work creating some exciting new additions on the reserve. There is a brand-new butterfly feeder and bug hotel which can be found located in the bug area of the Aird Meadow Trail. The reserve is home to many wonderful species of butterfly including red admiral, orange tip and peacock butterflies. The new feeder will give visitors a better chance to view these beautiful creatures while also helping to conserve them.
Butterfly feeding station, Photo credit: Ally Dowd
There has been a lot of effort on the reserve to remove Himalayan Balsam, which is a non-native species, this is achieved through pulling it up from the ground which is a safe method of removal. This invasive non-native plant grows and spreads very quickly preventing the growth of native vegetation. Removing invasive and damaging species such as this is essential to protect the native species affected by it.
Himalayan Balsam, Photo credit: Ally Dowd
Staff have also been hard at work to create a brand-new adventure trail for children visiting the reserve which will be complete with steppingstones, a log balance, rope walks and a wishing tree. This exciting new addition to the reserve is hoped to be complete by the end of the school holidays and provide some much-needed fun for children (and adults if they so wish).
Staff hard at work building a new adventure park
There is always something happening behind the scenes at the reserve, the dedicated staff regularly check all the trees on the reserve to make sure there are no vulnerable trees that may fall in high winds. If there are trees that are at risk of falling it means that a Tree surgeon/ Arborist can be contacted to take these trees down. The Ash trees found on the reserve are also monitored for a condition known as Ash Die Back. This condition is caused by a fungus called Hymenoscyphus fraxineus and has the potential to have a devasting effect on the ash tree population which may threaten many of the species that rely on ash trees.
The RSPB depends on the generous donations made by visitors to the reserve, this support allows the RSPB to help protect the future of wildlife and their environments. If visitors wish to donate when at the reserve, they now have the option to do so using the new electronic donation point which can be found located at the start of the Aired Meadow Trail.
There have been many exciting sightings around the reserve this month, Great Crested Grebes were spotted on the Aired Meadow loch and to everyone's delight were carrying young on their back. There has also been plenty of goldeneye and tufted ducks spotted on the Aird Meadow loch. There are many juvenile birds making themselves known on the Aird Meadow Trail particularly at the feeding station where there is an abundance of blue tit, chaffinch, great tit, coal tit and robin.
Great tit at the feeding station, Photo credit: Rachel Reid
Juvenile robin on the Aired Meadow trail, Photo credit: Rachel Reid
If you have visited recently, you may also have been lucky enough to spot the moorhen family with their five chicks from the hide on the Aird Meadow Trail. Another very exciting sighting on the reserve was a kestrel which was spotted from Todd's Seat on the 21st of July.
Moorhen family spotted from the Aired Meadow trail hide, Photo credit: Rachel Reid
An Osprey has also been spotted flying over the reserve a few times this July with the latest sighting on the 25th of July. This always fills everyone at the reserve with joy as back in the 1800s osprey became extinct in the UK due to human interference. The RSPB was part of the effort that helped these iconic raptors repopulate throughout the UK allowing them to recover, the osprey is now breeding in every country of the UK and are a fantastic conservation success story.
Rachel Reid - Reserve volunteer