Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Wildlife lovers' winter watching

Pine marten
Pine marten viewing evenings will be run at the nature reserve
Wildlife enthusiasts will be able catch a glimpse of the animals and birds usually hidden from view over the winter as the Loch of the Lowes stays open all year.

This will be the first time the reserve in Perthshire has kept its doors open throughout the winter, so visitors can watch red squirrels, roe deer and even pine martens at play.

Visitor Centre manager Peter Ferns said: "There's actually more to see here at the Loch of the Lowes in the winter than there is in the summer.

"Yes, in the summer we get the ospreys coming, which are a major attraction, but the loch fills up with all the wild fowl coming south to get away from the cold winter."

There are three hides at the reserve and through the visitor centre's viewing window small birds like chaffinches and siskins can be spotted.

Feeding stations are also monitored by CCTV cameras so visitors and people on the web can watch.

The reserve's Morna Fiskin added: "The most well-known one that most people come to see is the red squirrel - that's the iconic species.

"But we get lots of overwinter species - with small birds we're hoping to see flocks of brambling come in.

"We had one that's been spotted for about three days running now, but she's hard to spot amongst the chaffinches.

"We've also got pine martens, we're running our pine marten viewing evenings right up until December, so they're fantastic to see."

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