By Gareth Kett
Bird survey summary
Many of you will probably be aware of two bird surveys that have been ongoing throughout Britain over the past few years. Some of you may even be taking part. The Bird Atlas Survey (2007-2011) is beginning its final survey year while the British Breeding Bird Survey has been ongoing since 1994. The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) is the lead partner in both surveys and both focus on bird distribution around Britain using tetrads to divide Britain into survey areas. Countrywide results from the Bird Atlas Surveys will be compared with results from the previous Atlas surveys carried out from 1968-1972, 1981-1984 and 1985-1991 while results from the ongoing British Breeding Bird survey provide a continuous view of changing bird activity trends. Graeme and I have been carrying out Bird Atlas surveys in remote tetrads north of Callander and in Glen Dochart. In Glen Lochay we have done both Bird Atlas and Breeding Bird surveys. There is added benefit to us in that we are allowed access to some of the remoter areas where our usual duties do not permit us to go. This in turn allows us to meet some of the people involved in the management of these remote areas and to increase our understanding of local issues and wildlife, which in turn we hope will help us to provide a better service.
As for the birds, the populations across the area seem healthy, although we were disappointed not to see any eagles! It was good though to see a black throated diver up at Loch Essan, above Crianlarich. Neil Bielby is the BTO BBS and Bird Atlas Regional Coordinator for our area. Neil and the National Park rangers are looking for more people to become involved in the surveys, particularly for one final push in the Atlas survey, so if you are interested and have the time to take part please get in touch with Neil through the BTO website on the following link http://www.bto.org/birdatlas.htm. Or alternatively you can contact me for more information (see below).
With the onset of autumn, the departure of the swallows, martins, ospreys and many of the warblers, to the south, and the imminent return of large numbers of ducks and geese from breeding grounds in the north, we're just beginning another programme of bird surveys. The Wetland Bird Survey ( WeBS) monitors non-breeding waterbirds in the UK . The principal aims of WeBS are to monitor population trends and distribution over time and to identify important sites for wetland birds. Neil Bielby is also the BTO WeBS Regional Co-ordinator. He surveys Lochs Voil, Doine, Earn, Dochart and Iubhair while the Trossachs and Breadalbane rangers will be surveying Lochs Lubnaig, Venachar, Achray, Ard and Chon over the next six months. We'll keep you updated with sightings. Information on WeBS is available at http://www.bto.org/webs/index.htm. Neil is again the Regional Co-ordinator.
Path improvements at Killin
A team of rangers together with a voluntary ranger recently cleared the vegetation back along the stretch of old railway line next to Killin, running from the Falls of Dochart pub to the iron bridge over the River Lochay. The vegetation clearance marks the first stage in a project to upgrade the section of line over the coming months thus improving access to Loch Tay and a beautiful circular walk around the head of the loch.
Watch out for the Reds
Once again it's the time of year when most squirrels are killed on the roads as the young disperse and they are all attracted to new crops of hazel near the loch shores, all too often on the opposite side of a busy road. The A85 along Loch Earn and the A84 past Loch Lubnaig have been particularly bad over the past few weeks. Squirrels have very little road sense so please drive carefully and watch out for red squirrels about to dash out in front of you.
As usual, please feel free to drop into the Lochearnhead Office, or to call Graeme or myself if you have any queries, wildlife sightings, or just want to catch up. I can be contacted on 01389 722040 and Graeme's contact number is 01389 722115. Alternatively you can contact us by e-mail,