Woods are going for gold as autumn nears


Although green is still the dominant colour in the countryside as I write, the burnished hues of autumn are beginning to take hold.

On Saturday, a walk round Bowhill’s lochs showed off these colours to perfection, reflected on the glassy surface of the water. Bowhill’s woodlands will be spectacular in the coming weeks and a Mecca for amateur and professional photographers alike, hoping to capture the changing seasons on film, in spectacular fashion.

Sunday was my monthly “duck day” when I visit three local lochs to count wildfowl, as part of a nationwide survey. The weather was perfect and my early start ensured that I got the best of the day. There is something magical in walking through autumnal woodland, hearing the rasping call of jays, the robin’s special winter song and feeling the gossamer threads produced by spiders lightly touching your face as you go.

All three lochs had mute swans, some having fared better than others in the breeding stakes. The brood at Lindean reservoir is down to one remaining cygnet, which is big enough now and should survive.

The reservoir was looking great with the glassy surface reflecting the surrounding trees and television mast.

I could see that sheep had been on the reserve, but had been taken off. This is part of the grassland management scheme, where sheep are used to graze the more invasive grasses to allow the wild flowers to flourish. It has been used successfully for several years and is preferable to mowing as it is awkward to try and remove the cut grass, which if left, will rot away and feed the already vigorous grasses. The trees round the loch, which were mainly planted by schoolchildren, are now well established and many are already producing copious amounts of berries to feed the birds. The old boathouse, which has been the feature of many photographs over the years, is now in a sad state after last winter’s gales. Not so much a listed building now as a “listing” building!

However, plans are well advanced for a swanky replacement, which should be in place sometime next year.

There’s never great numbers of water birds at Lindean, but I was pleased to record eight wigeon, which were snoozing amongst the water weed in the middle of the loch.

These attractive little dabbling ducks have blue bills and don’t quack, but give off a strange wheezing whistle.

Remember, you can email me at corbie@homecall.co.uk