Location, Location, Location! Birds get a room with a view thanks to new RSPB Lochwinnoch nesting rafts
This winter, as part of the Garnock Connections project ‘Breeding Success at Lochwinnoch’ the RSPB have been making the Lochwinnoch reserve even more desirable to prospecting avian parents, with the installation of artificial nesting sites. These new des res have 365 degree panoramic veiws, an en suite loch and are within a short flap of local amenities. Designed to suit a range of birds they are ready for use when the weather warms up this spring, so we’re expecting to see prospective nesting tenants booking in for a viewing soon!
Construction and installation of eight new nesting rafts began in December. The first six were constructed from plastic floatation devices covered with coir matting for vegetation to grow through, both planted and colonising from species already present. The root systems suspended in the loch will provide additional homes for fish and insects as well as helping to improve the water quality. They should appeal to great-crested grebes and ducks, and within days of them being secured in position, our resident mute swans were already trying them out. Since then, cormorants, lapwing and a variety of ducks have been regularly using the new roosting space.
The final two rafts were built with similar floatation devices, but they’re much bigger, with a larger steel and wood frame, and are covered in crushed shells. These ones will appeal more to birds such as terns and black-headed gulls, and the race is on to see which species sets up a colony first!
All the rafts are carefully designed to rise and fall with changing water levels and are securely anchored a safe distance from shore to ensure that any nesting birds won’t be disturbed. The rafts can be viewed from the lochside and visitors are more than welcome to come along this spring and summer to find out what’s been using them and see if they can spot any new chicks.
Work to build and install the new rafts was undertaken by Frog Environmental from Dyfed and Kames Floating Structures from Oban, with help from reserve staff, who braved the horrible winter weather to make sure the new structures were installed with plenty of time to naturalise before spring. A large sand martin nesting structure has also now been installed at Lochwinnoch.
This work was made possible with funding from the EU funded EcoCo LIFE project, which aims to enhance the network of natural habitat across central Scotland.