Our Fauna and Flora
Neil Bielby – Scottish Ornithologist Club -Central Scotland and co-author of ‘The Birds of Clackmannanshire‘ states:
Howietoun Ponds have always attracted waterbirds but constant disturbance both by historic fishery/research centre workers and shooting, had a significant limiting effect on numbers up until 2019. Nevertheless, 15 species of waterbird were recorded between September 2010 and March 2014 in counts for the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO’s) Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS). Notable among these were Gadwall, Jack Snipe and Kingfisher.
Monthly surveys of the whole area since May 2019 show increased numbers of all species to 74 with breeding proven to date (July 2021) for Mute Swan, Mallard, Goosander, Pheasant, Moorhen, Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, House Martin, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tit, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Jackdaw, Starling, Tree Sparrow and Reed Bunting. Additionally, the following species regularly display breeding behaviour: Little Grebe, Dunnock, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Chaffinch and Goldfinch.
The recently published ‘Birds of Conservation Concern’ lists the following species that have been recorded breeding (or assumed to be breeding) at Howietoun in its:
RED LIST – highest category
AMBER LIST – medium concern
Grasshopper Warbler, House Martin, Starling, Tree Sparrow.
Mallard, Stock Dove, Moorhen, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Wren, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Reed Bunting.
For those birds on the Red List which just mostly overwinter in the UK, Fieldfare occurs at Howietoun.
Tony Rogers states that the UK has just short of 2500 moth species, with Scotland home to a recorded 1400 of these. Their variety is as beautiful as butterflies and contrary to common belief 1396 of these 1400 species do not eat clothes! An essential part of wildlife ecology and a healthy biodiverse landscape, they eat and control a lot of harmful plants and are a vital food source for many small birds to feed their nestlings and fledged youngsters on. They are the reason why many migrant birds come to the UK in Spring and Summer from warmer countries. If there were no caterpillars, there would be a marked reduction in the numbers of small birds.
Tony Rogers and his team: Heather Young and Paul Dorrington made 9 visits in 2021 to Howietoun and Old Sauchiemill, with ongoing visits scheduled across the seasons for 2022. Their work involves a range of different light-traps set at dusk and revisited at dawn, with meticulous data recording and release ensuing. From the over 1684 moths examined to date, there are 137 species (99 Macros & 38 Micros) noted so far. Professor David M Bryant, author of the book ‘Moths of the Forth and Tay & Loch Lomond National Park’, visited in October 2021 and his first find was a species very uncommon to Scotland – the Dusky Lemon Sallow.
Other taxa recorded and identified so far include seven mammal species; two amphibian species; five species of damselfly and two of dragonfly, 10 species of butterfly, 26 species of tree and shrub along with 87 species of wildflower. An extensive list of bryophytes and liverworts have also been discovered along with a variety of fungi, which is crucial for growth of trees, plants and crops. Together with bacteria, fungi’s important function is to break down organic matter releasing carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorous into the soil and atmosphere.