Guest Blog: Discover RSPB Loch Lomond
Discover the RSPB Loch Lomond site via this guest blog from Rita Gries, its Community Engagement Officer.
Many thanks to Rita for the post.
RSPB Loch Lomond is one of the best places for wildlife in Scotland. Located on the southeast shores of Loch Lomond, the site has a remarkable mix of habitats: not just woodland and grassland, but rich floodplains, and swampy mires and fens, all of which provide food and shelter for a massive range of creatures.
The Greenland white-fronted geese that come here in the winter make up an internationally important population. The river lampreys that skulk amidst the mud at the bottom of the River Endrick display a unique behaviour, migrating to the freshwaters of the loch, rather than to the sea like other lampreys. There are rare insects here too, like the ox-bow diving beetle, and even a plant that is only found here in the whole of the UK, the Scottish dock.
The site forms part of the Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve (NNR) and was acquired by the RSPB in April 2012, with financial support from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park (LLTNP) and the National Heritage Memorial Fund. This 563-acre site, previously part of the Wards estate, is now managed by the RSPB, SNH and the LLTNP in a unique tri-partied agreement.
The RSPB has an ambitious vision for the site and aims to make it a flagship site for nature conservation and wildlife tourism. We have been working hard to achieve this, with the help of volunteers, partners and colleagues. There is a long history of land management here, much of which helped to form the unique habitats found today. Over time, we want to recreate some of those conditions and use historical practices to make this place the best it can be for wildlife and people. Over the course of 2013, the grasslands were cut and then grazed, to improve their condition for wildlife. The results are already visible, with gaggles of geese returning to the High Wards fields after 11 years.
Such an unspoilt site is a treasure trove for naturalists, and they have been lining up to explore RSPB Loch Lomond. This helped us monitor important wildlife and even uncovered new species for the site. Highlights included 5000 common/heath spotted orchids, the horsetail sloth weevil (it was the second Scottish record of this beetle in 100 years) and the dung cannon fungi, also known as the fastest organism in the world!
We are planning to improve access and facilities for visitors over time. However, it is already possible to enjoy the amazing sights RSPB Loch Lomond has to offer. Visitors can walk down to the Shore Wood via the Aber Path, which begins at the Kilmaronock Millennium Hall in Gartocharn. This walk is most enjoyable in spring, when the woodland is full of bluebells, and in the summer when migrant birds start to return, filling the air with song. The path leads to the Net Bay viewpoint where you can see ospreys in summer and flocks of geese in the winter. The breathtaking view over the loch, islands and hills is of course a year-round spectacle.
We have also been working with the local school and nursery, helping local children discovers the wonderful wildlife on their doorstep (and in their school grounds).
Outdoor enthusiasts of all ages can also join the RSPB team for fun activities and events including goose-watching, dawn chorus, guided walks and more. Look out for our events in April, May, June and beyond on Love Loch Lomond’s What’s On pages.
If you would like to find out more about the site, or if you would like to share your thoughts about the RSPB’s plans for the site please email firstname.lastname@example.org