This is the final part of Robert Coleman’s talk on RSPB reserves in Central Scotland delivered to the SWT members in Duns.
The RSPB have extensive reserves at Loch Lomond. Two new sites extending to about 230 hectares were acquired in 2012 where the Endrick River enters the Loch. This reserve is in partnership with SNH and the National Park.
About 250 Greenland White-fronted Geese overwinter in this area which represents about one per cent of the world’s population.
The Endrick River meanders through grassy meadows and is managed by careful grazing by cattle to encourage grass for the geese to feed on in the winter and encourage the great diversity of flowering plants. About an eighth of the British flora have been recorded in the reserves.
Special plants include the Water Dock which grows two metres tall along the Loch margin and is found nowhere else in the British Isles. Other attractive plants are Loosestrife and Ragged Robin.
On the shore after storms the unusual Quillwort can be found washed up. This is a very primitive small plant with quill like leaves and can grow in water up to 2m deep.
Fish in the loch include the River Lamprey which has been around on earth since the time of the dinosaurs. The particular species found in Loch Lomond is the Dwarf-river Lamprey, which does not return to the sea to breed like most other species.
Lampreys feed by attaching themselves to other species of fish and sucking their blood.
The Powan is another special fish which evolved from white fish in the sea. Originally they migrated from the sea, up the river into the loch, where they were trapped and eventually evolved into this distinct species, which is only found in Loch Eck and Loch Lomond.
Water birds to be found in this area include Water Rail, Garganey, Shoveller and Teal and in the woodlands both Pied and Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, Redpoll and Siskin.
Further up the loch, at Inversnaid, the RSPB acquired 800 hectares in the 1980’s and along with the Woodland Trust and the Forestry Commission formed The Great Trossachs Forest Park which extends above Loch Katrine.
Sheep were removed from the RSPB land and a six kilometres long deer fence erected to protect regenerating trees. This is an area with heavy rainfall and the high humidity encourages mosses and liverworts.
Five per cent of the world’s bryophytes have been recorded here. The Filmy Fern, Hymenophyllum wilsonii grows on tree trunks and on rocks in moist, sheltered areas.
Other exciting species which may be encountered include Slow Worms and Adders, Red Squirrels, Black Grouse, Pied Flycatchers, Redstarts, Wood Warblers and if you are very lucky you may see Pine Martin and Golden Eagle.
For more information about the RSPB and their reserves visit www.rspb.org.uk