These are the results of a bird survey carried out by Danny Wallace and Ron Morris on 5th July 2011;.
MALLARD – on the previous survey the number of ducklings was 16. 8 of these were seen on this survey and are about full size. At this time last year Mallard numbers were swelled by the presence of 18 ducklings, however, the appearance of large numbers of young came a month earlier this year.
GEESE – The four goslings continue to survive. At present their appearance could support a mixed parentage theory. Certainly one of the white Geese (Domesticated Greylag?) was seen mating with a Greylag earlier this year.
MOORHEN – only one adult Moorhen seen. The previous nest (located in a bush near the inlet at the waterwheel) contains one predated egg and the remains of a predated Moorhen chick – see photo). The egg damage is mostly to the side of the shell and no contents remain. The chick appears to have died fairly recently and its body is mostly intact. The new nest is very close to this site but is located in a tree at a height of 3 metres! The previous nest was a metre or less above water level. This type of behaviour may be a response to predation?
COOTS – this time last year Coot numbered 46 including 11 juveniles. At this
time 18 were seen including only one juvenile. On the last survey, 16 Coot nests
were apparent. Four were occupied and at least 20 eggs were seen. On this current
survey, 10 or possibly 11 Coot nests were found and of none appeared to be occupied.
There were Coots in the vicinity of 5 nests. One nest, located on a Barley Straw
Raft, contained a nest surrounded by the remnants of 3 predated eggs. Two of these
eggs had clearly been attacked at the end of the egg rather than the side suggesting
that a mammal as opposed to another bird, might be responsible (see photos). All
breeding attempts noted on our last visit, ie, birds sitting on
eggs or nests being built were seen to have failed. There were no apparent attempts to build new nests at this time.
GREAT CRESTED GREBE – 2 adult birds present but no sign of juveniles. Great Crested Grebes have not been sighted on the loch by the author since the previous breeding survey and it is believed their return is very recent. There was no sign of a current Grebe nest on this survey but we continue to monitor this situation.
LITTLE GREBE – one bird only.
TUFTED DUCK – none present.
PREDATION – the only resident that appears to be attempting to breed at present is the Moorhen and it seems to be going to extreme lengths to avoid an unknown threat. There is clear evidence of predation here. The Coot breeding efforts appear to have been eliminated by an unknown factor to the extent that nests have been abandoned and no eggs are being laid. Something seems to have put them on hold. It seems fair to say that the weather since the last survey is unlikely to have caused this reaction. The most likely cause is predation and again we have some evidence of this. It may be noteworthy that no crows were present during the survey. Herons are present and in higher numbers than is usual. No obvious sign of Mink but some of the predation suggests a mammal is responsible (manner of eating eggs and the reaction of Moorhen). At present however, it is clear that predators will now have to look elsewhere for food and there may yet be time for successful bird breeding activity on the loch. A further loch breeding survey is anticipated in early August and the status at that stage of the season is likely to be most significant.
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