2018 nature round up at Kinghorn Loch

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2018 nature round up at Kinghorn Loch

2018 nature round up at Kinghorn Loch   image

One of our aims this year was to find out more about the wildlife that lives amongst and around us at The Ecology Centre. You need to know what’s out there before you can make plans about how best to maintain and manage it.  From the events we held last year we know so much more than we did, thanks to a BioBlitz, a moth project and the results of a habitat survey and data collection exercise.

The BioBlitz took place on a beautiful sunny day in June. A team of wildlife experts assembled on site for a few hours and carried out an intensive survey, looking for plants, birds, insects, spiders, mammals – every living organism they could find. We ended up with a very impressive list of 432 species, see link for more on Andy's Bio Blitz blog

Meanwhile, moth expert Gerald Lincoln was running a series of moth-trapping events all around Kinghorn Loch, starting in early spring and until the autumn. Around nine traps were left out overnight each time and provided a huge amount of information on these unseen strangers of the night (NB: the moths are always released unharmed). The final tally was an astonishing 4200 moths caught, of around 180 species (and that was just the “larger” moths!). This kind of project just shows how much of our wildlife goes unseen. Moths are hugely important pollinators and vital components of complex food chains.

The habitat survey and data collection exercise has given us specific information about exactly what types of vegetation communities support all the wildlife that shares the land with us.

Armed with this knowledge we can now go ahead and draw up a new land management plan that will guide us as we continue to look after the site.

I enjoyed a pleasant, sunny walk around the Loch the other day and was glad I had my camera with me as the birds seemed happy to pose.

This Grey Heron is a regular visitor. When not standing around digesting its last meal, it spends its time wading slowly around the fringes of the loch looking for small fish, or perhaps a frog. Although they can appear rather ponderous, herons will strike like lightning with that dagger of a bill. They buildtheir nests in colonies in trees, the nearest being at Otterston Loch, near Dalgety Bay. The latest information I have is from 2015, when there were 12 nests, making it the largest colony in the county.

They have been several theories as to why Cormorants stand with their wings held out in a crucifix-like pose like this: to dry them out, to help keep their balance, a signal of feeding success for fellow cormorants to exploit and an aid to swallowing and digestion. The most likely is the first one: unlike most birds, Cormorants’ feather structure is not designed to trap buoyancy-increasing air, but rather to become saturated, allowing them to dive really deep in search of fish.

Surely the most handsome of the loch’s winter visitors: a male Goldeneye. As I write there are three males and two females present. As winter progresses the males will become increasingly amorous, throwing their heads back and calling to the females.

Coal Tit, a common woodland resident

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