Tag Archives: Scottish Birds

With mesmerising nature and picturesque landscapes, it’s no wonder that even the birds hovering the skies are proud to call themselves Scottish! While you’re in Scotland, it’s the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with the natives so be sure to catch a glimpse of the majestic birds of prey in action or zoom in on nesting Ospreys from afar – with the help of a pair of binoculars of course!

Find out more about Scottish Birds from our posts below.


Loch Lomond Wildlife - Otter

A Wildlife Tour Of The Carrick

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

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.

Roe Deer

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.

Mute Swans

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.

Geese

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.

Bats

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

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!

Ducks

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.

Bees

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

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.

Owls

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.

What wildlife have you spotted on your visits to The Carrick? Share your snaps with us on Twitter @cameronlodges, alternatively visit our Facebook page and leave us a message there!

 


Loch Lomond Scenery

Jenny’s December Newsletter

December 2016

Hello!

Snowy, Flowy, Blowy,

Showery, Flowery, Bowery,

Hoppy, Croppy, Droppy,

Breezy, Sneezy, Freezy.

 — The Twelve Months; George Ellis (1753 – 1815)

 

As far as I can remember, I have been a fan of words. I was an avid reader and creative writer growing up; my well-thumbed “Collins Gem dictionary and thesaurus” testimony to my literary ruminations.  As a mature college student, my tutor commented on my often flowery language, and suggested on one occasion that I should consider another simpler word for ‘plethora’ in one of my assignments….. Taking all this into consideration, I can still appreciate the punchy imagery of satirist George Ellis above; however, in my own verbose style, here is a (brief) re-cap of my first year at Cameron House.

The old “Fairy Wood” was my first port of call;
Overgrown with brambles, unloved and forlorn.
No light filtered through to the dark woodland floor
The birds were all silent; and flowers? None at all.
A Gnome made his home in the herb garden one day;
The birds came a-flocking to the seed and nut buffet.
Toads in abodes, and fairy door dwellings;
A new lease of life breathed into the woodland.

“Bracken for Butterflies” was a management plan,
Designed to increase flora on which they depend.
Otter spotting by day; bat surveys at dusk;
Kingfisher on The Fruin; my cup overfloweth.
Red squirrel project, pine marten, fungal foray;
Woodland thinning, bird ringing; vegetation surveys.
Barn-owl chicks; ticks; more otters! Brown hares.
An abundance of wildlife to be treated with care.

There has been plenty to do this year, orientating myself and getting to know the 117 hectares of land occupied by The Carrick. Eleven areas of dry grassland, 6 areas of marshy grassland, a single area of wet heath, 17 lengths of hedges, tree groups and linear scrub, 5 lagoons and 7 ponds make up The Carrick, as well as a 26 hectare nature reserve separated by the River Fruin which runs east to west (and a partridge in a pear tree).

The Carrick

The Carrick supports a variable range of birds, perhaps due to its extensive range of habitats. The nature reserve contains the most significant habitats for breeding birds; particularly the woodlands surrounding the lagoons, therefore this is just one of the reasons why this area must be managed sensitively. There are currently 70 nest boxes located around The Carrick and one of my jobs this winter will be to locate them, clean out the ones which are in good condition and remove / replace those which are damaged. Once this is done, monitoring of the boxes can begin again in the near future.

Signs of otter activity on the reserve have been high this year with numerous otter spraints, widespread otter paths and several otter shelters. The total otter habitat within the reserve is 400m of river, 1300m of loch shore and 4250m of lagoon edge, which makes it a strategically significant location between a substantial river and the loch. Otters are classified as protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981; they are absent in many parts of the UK, therefore we are extremely privileged to have them living near us. Wildlife footage of the otters has received very positive feedback, and allows us a unique insight into their private lives.

There are fourteen bat boxes in total dotted around The Carrick, made up of a combination of regular roost boxes installed in woodland compartments, as well as two heated bat boxes based at Auchentullich Guest Lodges. The boxes were installed in 2007 following a tree survey conducted by a licensed bat surveyor, who concluded that The Carrick has good habitat for foraging bats, which are areas of open water, linear features, hedges and areas of mature trees. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects bats and their roosts in Scotland, England and Wales, therefore anyone involved in roost checks must hold a personal licence. I am very much looking forward to continuing my bat training next year, so watch this space!

As a custodian of the environment I take my moral duties and responsibilities extremely seriously, and I am immensely proud to be able to hold the conservation banner for Cameron House within the National Park.  Nature conservation is at the very heart of what Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park stands for; for more information on Wildpark 2020 visit www.lochlomond-trossachs.org/looking-after-the-park/wild-challenges-nature/

Finally, as this is will be my last correspondence until 2017, may I take this opportunity to wish you all well for the New Year, and I hope you and your friends and family have a safe and relaxing holiday.

Best Wishes

Jenny


Owl

Jenny’s July Newsletter

thumbnail_Owl&Cat

Hello!

“The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat, they took some honey, and plenty of money, wrapped up in a five pound note”.

Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat was one of my favourite poems as a child, as it conjured up such a charming image. The idea that a cat and a bird could be friends was simply delightful! There are quite a few well-known proverbs and phrases associated with our feathered friends. For example, “the early bird catches the worm”; “up with the lark”, and “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. If like me, you are an early riser, you will have had the pleasure of listening to the dawn chorus, where our songbirds defend their territories and sing to attract a mate.

Recently I was afforded the opportunity to assist with bird ringing at The Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment. SCENE is the foremost field station for research and teaching in ecology and environmental sciences in Scotland, and on this occasion, mist nets were used to capture wild birds for ringing. Bird ringing is conservation field research work, which places individually marked rings onto the legs of wild birds, to form the basis of a data collection process of that bird throughout its life. I am very much a novice in this line of work; ringing is only carried out by skilled ringers with the utmost consideration for the birds’ welfare, and can only be learnt by practice under the close supervision of experienced ringers. I will continue to gain field experience but it can take up to 3 years to become a fully ‘fledged’ ringer.

I was also thrilled to assist Steve Kenney, National Park Ranger, in ringing three of our very own barn owl chicks at The Carrick. Once abundant in the UK, barn owl populations have started to decline due to a number of factors including changes in agricultural practices and more common use of pesticides. Barn owls are very distinctive with their black eyes, heart-shaped face and white chest. Its call is a blood-curdling screech and literary scholars such as William Wordsworth referred to the “Owl of doom” in his poetry. I felt extremely privileged to be in such close proximity to these beautiful birds, as they are usually only seen at dawn and dusk whilst they hunt for mice, voles and shrews.

Owls are generally solitary, but when they are seen together the group is known as a “parliament” as they have long been considered to be of a wise disposition. I’m not sure how wise our Parliament currently is, but that’s another matter entirely!

Jenny


Wildlife

Jenny’s June Newsletter

Otter

Hello!

As the end of June comes hurtling towards us and the Summer solstice has passed, I have heard a few people lamenting how “summer’s over” and “the nights are drawing in”! I have been making the most of the long daylight hours by spending some of my time doing one of my favourite things; observing bats.

Bats play an important role in many environments around the world. Some plants depend partly or wholly on bats to pollinate their flowers or spread their seeds, while other bats also help control pests by eating insects. In the UK, some bats are ‘indicator species’, because changes to these bat populations can indicate changes in aspects of biodiversity. All bats in the UK are insectivores – they only eat insects, and while some people think bats are pests, bats are actually pest controllers eating thousands of insects every night.

There are 14 bat boxes in total dotted around the Carrick golf course, made up of a combination of regular roost boxes, as well as two heated bat houses based at Auchentulloch. During my most recent survey, I observed 94 Soprano pipistrelles exiting one of the heated bat boxes at dusk as they headed out to forage for midges. Soprano pipistrelles usually feed in wetland habitat so the Carrick is a perfect hunting ground. During the summer, females form maternity colonies where they give birth to a single pup in June or early July, whereas males usually roost singly or in small groups. Populations of pipistrelles have declined in the last few decades which is why monitoring them and passing the information to the Bat Conservation Trust is an important aspect of bat conservation work.

Otters, on the other hand, are much more elusive creatures! Since my last update, I have found further signs of otter tracks at various places across the North reserve but have yet to capture an image on the trail camera. Otters are classified as protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and are absent in many parts of the UK, therefore we are extremely privileged to have them living near us. During one of my many walkabouts, I was thrilled to spot a kingfisher whose electric blue back was unmistakable as it sped along the River Fruin in low-level flight. Some of you may have spotted one or two brown hares around the golf course too, which are always a delight to observe.

I am delighted to tell you all that the path in The Enchanted Wood is finished, which completes phase 1 of the whole project. My thanks and acknowledgements go to South West Environmental Action Trust, and South Ayrshire Waste and Environment Trust for funding £500 each via the Scottish Landfill Communities Fund. I am currently formulating plans for phase 2 which will be another challenging project and one which I am looking forward to immensely!

Jenny