On the look-out...for barn owls

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THE last week of low rainfall has seen the river level drop to more normal levels. This in turn is attracting the river birds back to their usual haunts.

Outside the Scottish Wildlife Trust Falls of Clyde visitor centre mallard ducks, goosanders, dippers and a very active cormorant have been regularly spotted. An otter was also seen swimming downstream during the day.

WAXWINGS

An attractive and unusual visitor to a garden in Thankerton was identified as a waxwing. They have rounded bodies, pinky brown breast plumage and a crest. Black markings on their face and yellow flashes on the wings and tip of its tail make it very distinctive.

These birds are winter visitors to Scotland (east coast, heading inland through the winter) and usually arrive and stay in flocks. They eat berries and particularly like hawthorn and rowan trees. Look out for them around car parks which are often planted with varieties of trees chosen for their short stature and decorative appearance, many of which blossom and bear fruit.

BARN OWL DEATHS

There have been a large number of barn owls found dead from starvation this winter following the prolonged snow and hard frost.

Barn owls feed on voles and mice which, when there is a thick blanket of snow, become almost impossible to hunt down.

Every year older and weaker birds die during times of severe cold weather, but this year the number of recorded deaths is much higher than usual.

Owls are seen at dusk, in open country along field edges, riverbanks and roadside verges. They nest in buildings near these habitats, such as farm outbuildings and barns.

We are fortunate to have these beautiful nocturnal birds in Clydesdale. Look out for their pale faces and undersides and the wide, thickly feathered wings, which allow them to fly silently.

For information on wildlife issues contact the Falls of Clyde Visitor Centre on 01555 665262.