These are the results of a bird survey carried out by Danny Wallace and Ron Morris on 30th August 2011;
MALLARD – No additional young this survey. Mallards have been well into moult since last survey.
In summary, 8 out of at least 25 ducklings are known to have survived this year. There has been little evidence of breeding from July onward. Surprisingly a brood of 8 survived intact in the vicinity of the boat pier whereas all other broods reared elsewhere on the loch, suffered 100% mortality. This suggests that the environment in the vicinity of the boat pier offered sustenance and/or protection not found elsewhere on the loch. This area was/is frequented by numerous other birds including geese protecting goslings. It is also frequented by humans, regularly feeding birds. It is not clear if their survival was due to lack of predation or supplemented diet or both. Certainly common predators such as Crow and Gull were regularly seen at this location without any known detrimental effect on the brood. In conclusion, had it not been for the one surviving brood, this would have been a disastrous breeding season for Mallard.
MOORHEN – A new nest is located near the dam and weir. It has been present for several weeks and though used, no eggs have been laid here. No sign of any Moorhen young.
In summary, there is no sign of 4 young Moorhens seen on the nest in the tree near the boat pier shortly prior to the survey at the start of August. As previously stated they left the nest during several days of human activity in this vicinity as young canoeists were trained in the shallow waters there. It seems possible that this activity caused them to leave the nest prematurely but it is also significant that the nest was built at an extraordinary height of about 3 metres above the surface of the loch and this may have been detrimental to young leaving the nest. It is also possible that they have survived but just not seen due to the nature of the species. This nest is located close to a previous nest and the proximity and timing suggest it was made by the same adults. At one point this nest contained at least 3 young. It was located in a bush a foot or two above the water. This nest appears to have been predated and a dead chick and damaged egg were subsequently found within. It is assumed the later higher construction was an attempt to avoid further predation. Apart from these attempts to breed, two advanced juvenile Moorhen have been seen on the loch but appear not to have been born here. In conclusion, the breeding season on the loch seems to have been disastrous for Moorhen.
COOTS – no evidence of breeding activity since early June. Coot nest are either old or used as roosting/lounging platforms only.
In summary, out of 19 nests at start of season, only one is known to be in use and has no eggs present. Of the 20+ eggs known to have been laid, only one juvenile has been seen by the author on the loch all season. Damaged eggs, recovered from nest sites, would suggest that predation has taken place in May/June. Some eggs indicate mammalian predation. In conclusion this has been a near disastrous breeding season for Coot.
GREAT CRESTED GREBE – no sign of Great Crested Grebe.
In summary, there has been no breeding activity since June and only one known sighting of birds on the loch afterwards. The pair attempting to breed at the start of the season changed nest site on no less than 6 occasions suggesting they were being disturbed by the activities of a significant predator throughout May into June.
LITTLE GREBE – two breeding pairs now have young. Both have nests in weeds near
the north shore. One pair fed young on/and near the nest for at least 17days despite
the chicks being capable of swimming almost immediately. They have since left the
nest area and at the last sighting there were at least two juveniles on the nest
(four had been counted previously). It is worth noting that a Grey Heron was regularly
disturbed from a position very close to this nest and may have had an interest in
predating the young. Activity at the second nest is similar with three juveniles
at this site throughout the period of observation. The nests were perhaps 35 metres
apart. In summary, the breeding activity seems very late in the season but is most
welcome considering the numbers of birds on the loch this year. Following severe
weather and icing of the loch in November/December there was a mass exodus leaving
one bird only. From time to time during the spring a few others appeared briefly
but generally we had just the one until 2 others arrived in early July. Others followed
but even so the highest number of birds seen on the loch during the season was 11.
In conclusion, the early part of the breeding season for Little Grebe was a non
starter, probably due to the apparent lack of birds, but this late recovery has produced
TUFTED DUCK – no sign of breeding. The loch has been regularly visited during the season by varying numbers of birds and on survey days, there has always been at least 3 birds present. Last year only one brood was seen and with such little data it is difficult to draw any conclusions.
GEESE – goslings are nearing full size and appear to be of Greylag stock and appear
to be consistent with a match of a male domestic white goose mating with a semi-
MUTE SWAN – still making use of the barley straw raft on which they had a nest but no breeding activity. In summary, this nest was constructed from the straw but the subsequent eggs failed and were found floating in water on the raft. The raft has no solid structure to support the nest and the straw lies on netting and gradually filters through into the water as designed. Whilst the Swans maintained the nest, it seems likely that the straw was unable to support the weight of eggs and adult to allow incubation. Last year the swans nested on the bulrushes near the weir dam but were unsuccessful. It is believed this was because of their proximity to human activity. “Kinghorn Loch Users Group” have allocated funds to create a nesting raft/island that might provide a more suitable nesting platform for the swans in the future. In conclusion, whilst it has not been a successful breeding season there is some hope for more success next year.
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