As Assistant Manager at Loch of the Lowes nature reserve, Emma and her team work closely with the community and visitors to protect and promote the area’s wildlife.
In this area we’re particularly rich in mammals, so keep your eyes peeled for pine marten, beaver, otter, hedgehog, weasel and stoat. People come from far and wide to see our red squirrels and you’ve got a good chance of seeing deer – roe, fallow and red deer. We’ve got the River Tay and Braan so in the summer and autumn you can see the salmon leap. This is a great area for birds of prey with red kite, buzzard and of course the osprey which have been nesting and breeding here at the Lowes for about 25 years.
Beaver are well established again but like most wildlife, they’re tricky to track down so your best bet is to come along to our hides at Loch of the Lowes at dawn or dusk. If you’re really lucky you might see otter whilst you’re here. For salmon leaping in autumn, I’d go up to the waterfalls at The Hermitage or at Soldier’s Leap at Killiecrankie. Spend time down by the river and you might see kingfisher, goosander, sandmartin or dippers. A walk through the woods will give you a chance of spotting deer, squirrels, crossbills and woodpecker.
Some of the conservation bodies run programmes, like ourselves at Scottish Wildlife Trust, National Trust for Scotland, Atholl Estate and Perth & Kinross Ranger Service. We’ve got plenty of guides who know the area inside out – they all have websites and social media pages. They run group events or can come up with specialised trips depending on what you’re interested in. They sometimes work with activity providers so you can get things like moonlight beaver spotting kayak trips.
The wildflowers such as bluebells are amazing here during the spring and you can see them along a lot of the Dunkeld Path Network. I really like the Fungarth Walk which starts in Dunkeld, takes you through a gorgeous bluebell wood and over to Loch of the Lowes. There are deer and squirrels in the area too. Rivers are a magnet for wildlife, so if you use the Dunkeld Path Network to walk along the River Tay or Braan, you might see kingfisher, dippers and wagtails. If you want to see bats, at dusk you’ll find Daubenton’s and pipistrelle here at the Lowes or in Dunkeld and Birnam near the bridges. A bit later in the evening you have a good chance of hearing tawny owls calling to each other.
My personal favourite place is Rumbling Bridge. On a sunny day you can just sit by the pools and spot dipper, kingfisher, salmon and wagtails. Something that a lot of folk don’t realise is that here at the reserve, our double decker hide is open 24 hours a day. You can just sit quietly at dawn and dusk and see what comes along. Folk also don’t realise that families with kids can borrow Young Explorer rucksacks here with a bug box, binoculars, wildlife book and other goodies. You just leave a deposit and then get it back. If you want the best chance of seeing our squirrels and hordes of wild birds, come along first thing. Check our opening hours on line.