Loch Lomond is well-known for its abundant wildlife, and where better to explore it than The Carrick. When Doug Carrick designed The Carrick golf course, he respected the existing habits of many animals and birds during the design process. Over the years these species have thrived with the help of our resort ranger, groundsmen and green keepers who all contribute to the maintenance and protection of these natural habitats. From deer and bats, to birds of prey and bumblebees, we have them all right here on our doorstep.
So whether you’re taking a stroll round the resort, or enjoying a round of golf on the championship Carrick course, our resort ranger Jenny gives us a rundown of the types of wildlife you can expect to see. So keep your eyes peeled the next time you visit and share your wildlife pictures with us on Twitter @cameronlodges
Planning a trip to the resort? You can download Jenny’s in-depth guided tour of the resort wildlife here. Copies are also available from the Lodge office.
Brown hares have golden-brown fur, with a pale belly and a white tail. Larger than rabbits, with longer legs and longer ears with distinctive black tips, brown hares are most often spotted in fields and farmland. But you’ll also find them streaking across the fairways of The Carrick, pausing occasionally to hunker down in the long grass. Unlike other animals on the resort, brown hares make an appearance all through the year.
Small and elegant, roe deer have a reddish brown coat during summer and a pale brown / grey coat during winter. Easily identifiable to all Disney fans as the original Bambi, they have a distinguishing black nose, white chin and white tuft of hair on their rear, and the male deer (bucks) also have short, three tine antlers. You might need to get up early to spot roe deer on the resort as they prefer the woodland areas of the resort during the day. Try to catch them as they come to the edge of the grass area to feed at either dusk or dawn.
Instantly recognisable with their bright white feathers, elegant S shaped neck and orange beak with a black base, the Mute Swan population in the UK has increased recently, perhaps due to better protection of this species, and we have been lucky enough to have two pairs of mating swans visit the resort the last few years. These majestic birds can be spotted at the pond at 2nd tee and 4th fairway.
Although there are many different varieties of birds around the resort, large flocks of geese can frequently be seen over the golf course. These messy birds keep our green keepers on their toes each morning, as they work to clean up their mess at the 2nd tee.
We have a variety of bat species living on the resort, including Daubenton and Soprano Pipistrelle bats, and our ranger Jenny and her team make sure they are well looked after! The small gathering of mature beech trees at the 13th green provides a home for bats in the form of bat boxes, which make up just two of the 14 bat boxes they have dotted around the Carrick. If you’re a guest at one of our luxury Auchentullich cottages, you may have spotted the two heated bat boxes located on the side of the buildings, and these are generally used as maternity roosts for female Soprano Pipistrelle bats.
Otters are most prevalent in the west coast of Scotland, and our resort is no exception! Often described as being inquisitive, playful and intelligent, you might find them sliding around on muddy river banks. Although they mainly roam at night, once you have passed the 3rd green and cross the bridge over the Fruin Water, take some time to pause and have a look at the river in both directions – you might just spot an otter!
The South Nature Reserve runs parallel to the 5th fairway, and as an area which is managed primarily as a refuge for wildlife, it can get quite muddy! But if you don a pair of wellies and head to the line of mature beech trees, you might be lucky enough to see one of our local celebrities – the Mandarin ducks, which first made an appearance in spring 2017. A rare sight in the UK due to the fact that they are native to south east Asia and are only established in the UK following escapes from captivity, their presence in Scotland is even less so than in England, hence their celebrity status! The male mandarin has elaborate and ornate plumage with distinctive long orange feathers on the side of the face, orange ‘sails’ on the back, and pale orange flanks. The female is dull by comparison with a grey head and white stripe behind the eye, brown back and mottled flanks.
Birds of Prey
If you’re enjoying a round of golf, keep your eyes peeled for buzzards and grey herons flying above 6th, 7th and 8th holes. Herons can often be mistaken for larger birds of prey as they circle in the sky, but their long legs and bodies are usually enough of a clue to their identity. Buzzards are also a common sight above the golf course, either soaring over the numerous woodland pockets, or perched on trees or posts looking for small mammals, birds and carrion.
The Wee Garden, situated after the bridge, just before you walk across the road to the 9th tee, is a haven for all types of insects but the primary motivation for its creation was the UK’s declining bee population. The garden contains lots of bee friendly plants that flower between March and September and you’ll often see lots of bees, insects and butterflies during this time.
Stoats are cute to look at but a predatory force in the natural world! Enjoying a carnivorous diet of rabbits and small rodents, hares and birds, the stoat is a threat to the oystercatcher nests which sit at the Highland Boundary Fault Line from April to June. They are active hunters by day and are easy to spot on the open fairways of the golf course, with their orangey-brown back, creamy white throat and belly, and black-tipped tail.
To the south of the 15th fairway is a long-established plantation of oak trees which are between 100 – 200 years old! This old woodland houses the resort’s barn owl box, which is perfectly positioned on a mature, thick trunk in an isolated position with no low branches. The box faces the green and the surrounding landscape provides excellent hunting opportunities for the owls in the form of small mammals such as mice, voles, moles and shrews.
Toads & Frogs
During the spring and summer months, the pond on the left hand side of Mansion House is hopping with frogs and toads. Not sure how to tell them apart? The common frog has smooth, moist olive-green or brown skin, with a dark patch or “mask” behind the eyes. The common toad, however, has “warty” skin which may appear dry when on land. Common toads are most active at night when they hunt invertebrates including snails, slugs, ants and spiders.
If you’ve enjoyed this blog post, don’t forget to download Jenny’s guide here. She will take you on a guided tour of the resort and tell you exactly where to find these amazing creatures! Copies are also available from the Lodge office.