Friday 18 March 2016

Scotland by Rail - Dalry (briefly) then RSPB Lochwinnoch. Wet.

from the tower, RSPB Lochwinnoch

I was at Dalry station, East Ayrshire, early one morning for an on-platform meeting. I had three possible walks to choose from afterwards, to form the content of my next Scotland by Rail blog post. And there would have been a cafe involved. But the rain started only half an hour behind schedule - 9.45am, heavy, due to stay that way for 12 hours. So after our meeting I postponed all outdoor plans, didn't even seek a cafe, and caught the next train back towards Glasgow, headed for Edinburgh then Burntisland. I broke my journey for an hour at Lochwinnoch where an RSPB reserve is only a couple of minutes from the station, then even more briefly in Linlithgow to buy a birthday present for a friend (Jim Crumley's Nature's Architect) from Far From the Madding Crowd, the best of bookshops.

Here's a short, wet, no-sketching Scotland by Rail blog post. 


RSPB Lochwinnoch nature reserve

Lochwinnoch station is 25 minutes from Glasgow Central and the reserve entrance is only two minutes west of the station along a fairly busy road (with pavement).

There's a small visitor centre at the head of the reserve ever-friendly staff and volunteers to tell you what you might spot that day. As good views as you'll ever get of small songbirds like these. Blue, great, coal and long-tailed tits. Robin, dunnock, blackbird, chaffinch, goldfinch. Collared dove. Loads of reed buntings. There are telescopes at the windows and brilliant views of all these birds on feeders just outside. 

from the photography hide

feeders from the photography hide

feeders from the photography hide. Birds constantly to-and-fro.

It's a loch-y kind of reserve and has a viewing tower to give you an all-around panorama of the wet areas. The majority of the water I saw was drizzling fast down the way but I could just see enough to spot plenty of mallards and a number of tufted ducks, goosander, coot, moorhen, mute swans. A family of three whooper swans were in the reedbed fringing - banana yellow beaks with black markings making each whooper individually recognisable to those who study them. They come to Scotland to escape the Icelandic winter. My first whoopers of 2016.

A male and a female smew were noted on the Recent Sightings board but I saw neither.

Lochwinnoch whooper swan

There's also a shop with all the usual excellent RSPB goodies - bird feeds and feeders; bird & bat & hedgehog & bee boxes; sustainable coffee & chocolate & biscuits; binoculars & telescopes; pin badges; lovely birdy crockery; etc etc etc. There's no cafe but there is a machine with hot drinks.

In better weather bring your binoculars for the lochside woodland paths and hides.

RSPB members get in for free, otherwise there's an entrance charge. Children can borrow an adventurer's rucksack containing spotting sheet and child-sized binoculars.

RSPB Lochwinnoch is great for cycling, it's on National Cyle Route 7 and the off-road Semple Trail. Cycling info here.

station poem, Lochwinnoch


How to get there

Dalry and Lochwinnoch are only about 25 minutes by train from Glasgow Central station.

Find the ScotRail timetable here.

Many thanks to ScotRail for their invaluable support of my Scotland by Rail work.

RSPB Lochwinnoch reserve - getting there.


sheltering in the tower

1 comment:

  1. Know it well, a great wee bolt hole into nature. Sometimes it even doesn't rain!