July: Nature Watch on Loch Leven Nature Reserve by Simon Ritchie, LLNNR Officer

The month of July promises wildflowers a’ plenty, butterflies and bees in the summer sunshine, and young birds taking their first steps of independence. It is a great time to spot signs of life all around the reserve. Here at Loch Leven NNR, we have some encouraging news! We took a trip out to St Serfs with our telescope to check some Black-headed Gulls which looked to be interested in nesting. Black-headed Gulls used to nest in great numbers on St Serfs and they were a key part of the whole ecosystem on the island! Sadly, these elegant gulls have been absent on the Island for more than a decade. We’ve had a few ‘false starts’ for the colony in recent years. However this year, we are extremely pleased to confirm nesting. We are hoping to see a few fledglings in a month or so, fingers crossed everything goes well and we get this delightful gull returning to breed on St Serfs Island!  Black-headed Gulls can be extremely sensitive to disturbance, so as always, it is important that visitors adhere to our Local Access Guidance and refrain from landing on any Islands.
Mid-summer is also the time where Blue-Green Algae can be at its most prevalent. Thankfully, as I write this in mid-June there have been no blooms as of yet. However, it only takes a few warm and dry days for things to change. If you are planning on entering the water, please look out for physical signs of Blue-Green Algae; this includes a Green/Blue colour in the water which can form a scum-like material on the surface. Please also take note of any signage in the area.
When out and about on the trail, there are summer wildlife specialties to look out for. Painted Lady butterflies can appear en-mass in July. Often coastal areas can see large arrivals of this migratory butterfly, however, large arrivals can be noted in-land also. A variety of Orchids can be seen in summer, look out for Northern-marsh Orchid, Early-marsh Orchid, Lesser-butterfly Orchid, and Common Spotted Orchid. Young Roe Deer can be seen with their mothers and if you are lucky you might come across a young fox that has just become independent for the first time. Summer is a magic time, and I often find myself gazing skywards in the evenings watching the Swallows, Swifts, and Martins flying overhead.  
Look out on our social media for updates on potential Summer Events. We are hoping to run Osprey WalksHimalayan Balsam Bashing and something for Meadows Day all depending on Covid restrictions at that time.
Recent wildlife highlights include; Swan Cygnets, Coralroot Orchids, Barnacle Goose Goslings, Stoat, Red Squirrels, Goldeneye pair, Common-Spotted Orchid and Ospreys.
You can keep up to date with life on Loch Leven National Nature Reserve by following their blogFacebook page and orInstagram Page for regular updates or follow the link below.