A Favourite Place


I thought that I would share with you my favourite local spot for walking, nature-watching, and where I can “escape” to, whenever I have a free hour or more. It is also popular with us, as a family, for walks, picnics, or just somewhere to feed ducks and swans. A mere 15 minutes’ drive from home takes us to the adjoining Birnie and Gaddon Lochs Local Nature Reserves.


The lochs are entirely artificial in origin, having been created from former open-cast sand and gravel quarries. In 1991, the companies involved with this industry donated the site to the people of Fife, and the name “Birnie” resulted from the winner of a local naming competition, who was a local shoolgirl. Gaddon opened to the public in 1996.

Gaddon Loch, on a rainy 27/08/2010

Due to the magnificent efforts by locals in the surrounding hamlets and villages, more than 3000 trees were planted in the early 1990s. to replace the natural woodland of the area, before it was felled for the sand and gravel industry. This is now paying off – big time! Especially, with the birds!

There are now more than 100 established wildflower species here, too.

Different Environments

Birnie Loch is mainly wetland marsh, with some open water, and woodland right down to the water’s edge all the way round, except for an open grassy banking at the car park. The footpath keeps close to the water, and bird seen here are mainly ducks, swans, and a large variety of small woodland birds. There are more than 100 species of birds, mammals and insects in this area.

Gaddon is far more open and quieter, and the footpath often deliberately runs well away from the waterside. There is more open water here than at Birnie, mudflats, and meadow/grassland. Gaddon is preferred by waders, herons, pawings and skylarks, among others. Gaddon is closed off to the public in early summer to protect nesting birds, and only recently re-opened again.

When I visited on Friday, this area was very much alive with grasshoppers, butterflies and many more insects.

Scotch Argus, Gaddon Loch, 27.08.2010

I almost squashed this little fellow underfoot when he suddenly hopped out in front of me.

A torrential rain shower just as I arrived on Friday afternoon seemed to polish up the surface of Gaddon Loch, and the cloud reflections were amazing.

In the centre of this last pic is a mute swan, who was quietly awaiting the return of her cygnets. I was lucky to decide to visit just when they were being weighed and ringed.

It has been very interesting to follow the swans here this year, and was glad that I saw this event.

10th June 2010

It hasn’t all been “plain sailing” for the swans at Birnie and Gaddon. Here is a link to the latest newsletter, which tells a bit about the swans, and gives an idea of some of the bird species to be seen.


Hopefully, I’ll be able to get pics of some of the other birds here, one day.

My Other Blogposts From this Area:-

http://www.ispyabird.co.uk/blogs/1424 “Transition”

http://www.ispyabird.co.uk/blogs/1334 Beating Those “Monday Morning Blues”…..

http://www.ispyabird.co.uk/blogs/1329 “New Kids on the Block”

http://www.ispyabird.co.uk/blogs/314 Bull in a Willow (China Shop)?

http://www.ispyabird.co.uk/blogs/199 Freezing Feathered Friends


29 Aug, 2010
simplylyn said:

Oh David what a beautiful place to be able to visit! Your photos are wonderful and give me much pleasure so I shall return to them again and again. Jan said she would push me round Talkin Tarn if I can get a wheelchair. I do miss being able to go for nice walks. I can imagine your delight in seeing the swans weighed and ringed. Hope the children were with you.

29 Aug, 2010
bonkersbon said:

Beautiful location David and great to have an 'escape to' place so close to home.Your photos really do justice to illustrating such a delightful spot .. nice to see the swans being monitored so closely they really must have the perfect spot there.

Jane and I hope to get to our escape to spot tomorrow.

29 Aug, 2010
bulbaholic said:

Super looking place, David, and a nice blog. loved the photographs, particularly the cloud scenes.

29 Aug, 2010
david said:

Thanks, Lyn. I hope that you get to Talkin Tarn soon. Have sometimes thought that it would be good for places which allow good access to all to keep a couple of chairs for visitors who arrive without transport.

I hope that you get away tomorrow, Bb and Jane! Yes, it will be interesting to find out what those cygnets get up to!

Thanks, bulb! When I got home, found that I'd taken 32 pics of those cloud reflections! But, was ruthless, and kept only these 3.

29 Aug, 2010
mactumpshie said:

its great to see industries returning there redundant sites back to wild life habitat.also well done the local community for supporting and running this project .hope there is more of this type of preservation going on around the country.but best of all is we are leaving a wild life legacy for all our grand and greatgrand children.well done david, this even beats edinburgh zoo .

29 Aug, 2010
jane said:

What a wonderful blog David..I am so glad to be able to share this beautiful place through your photos,all of which are excellent. My favourite one for atmosphere just has to be the first one...and as Bulbaholic says the cloud formations are lovely. Like Lyn,I too will be returning here to see it all over again ! Thank you~~

29 Aug, 2010
aster said:

A beautiful place to escape to.I hope it remains unspoilt after all the efforts to give something back, after being exploited over the years.
Flora and fauna appear to be establishing well.Lovely photo's too,thank you for sharing your favourite place :)

29 Aug, 2010
gqu46i said:

Fantastic. How lucky you are. Great photo's and jottings to go with them

29 Aug, 2010
david said:

I'm sure there are lots of preservation/regeneration projects ongoing and beginning in many places, Mact. Even better when they involve local people for ideas, planting, etc. Have begun to compile my own list of every site here in Fife, as wouldn't want to miss any of them!! My favourite things at Edinburgh Zoo are;- the rainbow lorikeets, the viewing windows to see the penguins swimming underwater, and the birds of prey demonstrations. I can go there with my children whenever we want, for free! it's a work perk!

Many Thanks, Jane! Another thing I find "atmospheric" are the bench seats for rests ("Sit Down and Rest a While" is inscribed on one), which are placed down by the water's edge (for viewing birds swimming), at planned feeding stations, where you can put out seed you bring with you, and be rewarded with close encounters with small woodland birds, and the occasional squirrel (only seen the greys here, though), or for the views across the surrounding landscape. Every seat is a memorial bench, for someone who loved this place, and had a favourite spot. I sat down on one bench which had a Cancer Research Race for Life 2006 medal and ribbon tied to it. Another had a vase of faded flowers at each end. Often, other visitors will sit down alongside, and we feed the birds, identify them together, and have a great chat, even though we are all strangers! With nature reserves being "for people, as well as wildlife", I love this idea! I enjoy the chats, worries are soon gone, and I realise that us people are just one of hundreds of species who enjoy this place, and that we get to enjoy it for longer than most! Hope that you do get your own "great escape" tomorrow. :-)))

You're welcome, aster and gqu! Yes, I am lucky to have several places like this around home, but this one a firm fave, and, I think, will be mantained, managed, and enjoyed by wildlife and us visitors forever.

29 Aug, 2010
lincslass said:

I can see why its a favourite David, your photo`s are absolutely lovely.
The pics of the clouds are great but I think the swan with her cygnets is my fav..
I always take loads of pics when out and about, my hubby takes the mickey out of me, he reckons I`d find a duck if I walked in a desert,lol.
Thankyou for sharing......

30 Aug, 2010
jane said:

Hi David....Agree with you about the benches. Today on our outing sat on a solitary bench dedicated to the memory of one of the river wardens who died 4 years ago.The area had been planted up with his favoutrite shrubs....one of which was a rose...which sadly did not like the woodlnd setting. Had a lovely afternoon...marred only by cold north easterly winds.....and managed to get a couple of photos of the kingfisher ! A bit blurry....but think they are just about recognisable !

30 Aug, 2010
david said:

Thanks, lincslass! A duck in a desert? Great phrase! :-)))

Glad you got your outing today, Jane and Bb!! Being a true Scot, am thinking of starting to make my own bench, to save the family money when the time comes!! :-D)

Would love to see your kingfisher pics (and any others from today). Have only seen a kingfisher twice, and only noticed because of the flash of blue as they sped past.

30 Aug, 2010
bonkersbon said:

Popped them on Janes pics page David...not very clear but will be returning ! Cold and windy..overcast too ! Lol

30 Aug, 2010
simplylyn said:

At Talkin Tarn there are benches in memory of people who loved visiting there. We used to read all the plaques and feel sad. Then, when I was diagnosed I asked a neighbour who is a wood sculptor among other things, and had made several of the seats if he would design and make a seat for me and he said he would, if they were still acceptable. However, we found that it is no longer possible as the Council consider there are sufficient seats already. Never mind, my daughter said they could have a special 'mum's seat' in a favourite spot in her garden. I think I would like it to be near the new ponds and an appropriate comment on it could be "Simplylyn waz 'ere". Never did know who Kilroy was.

3 Sep, 2010
sixpence said:

What a great place to be able to relax beautiful and all the wild life there too, what greatness comes from industry and then transformed to this love all the pictures.

4 Sep, 2010
david said:

Spotted the kingfisher, Bb - Many Thanks!

Lovely idea, Lyn! It would be great overlooking the new ponds.

Thank You, 6d! "What greatness comes from Industry" would be a very fitting inscription to have somewhere at this place. :-))

4 Sep, 2010
janette said:

I can see why this is a favourite place David ,it look a great place to get away and relax ,even if only for an hour or two ....lovely photos ....

4 Sep, 2010
jane said:

This delightful blog is now in Birdpedia David....Freshwater birds..

5 Sep, 2010
david said:

Thank You, Janette, we consider ourselve very lucky to have this place almost on our doorstep. So easy to call into for as little or as long as spare time dictates. :-))

Thank You, Jane! :-))

6 Sep, 2010
sixpence said:

Yes it would be a good idea David.

Leave a comment

You need to be logged in to comment

Featured on

freshwater birds

birding days out

Related posts

A Trip Along The Basinstoke Canal

Duck family moves in


Vote for Gill Blair!

"Chick Flicks"

Claythorpe Mill


Hot House Slimbridge

Ospreys at Loch DOON

22 Hides and Nature Trails.....

Pelicans in St James's park

What I see when walking my Dog!

Missed opportunities!

My recent canal walk in Stoke on Trent

An urban landscape teeming with amazing wildlife

Taking Toil

A bus ride to Coltishall

visit to new galloway forest


Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park

A Tail from the Riverbank

814 Photos!!

The Thames at low tide

Seabirds at Bempton Cliffs RSPB Reserve , East Yorks.

A Trip Along The Basinstoke Canal

Six hours to wait for a train...what to do???

Walk in the Culbins

A winters day at Westport Lake

My first bird hide visit of 2011

Nostalgic photos for Bonkersbon

Birds on the Norfolk broads

Death on the Canal

Two days with the Herons, both less than 15 minutes from home.

Lunch at Martin Mere.

Early February with the Herons at Verulamium

A walk round Stover park.

Stanborough Lakes 16 Feb 2011

Chance to watch Herons

RSPB Reserve Fairburn Ings , Yorkshire.

Birds of Prey centre.

"Lay, Lady, Lay"

Martin Mere Wildlife Photography Course

Martin Mere -= Red Crested Pochard

Upton Warren N.R., Wychbold, North Worcs.

Shelducks in Flight

CHICKS and Parents -

Day Out

Me & Mikes day out

Middleton Lakes Nature Reserve

"Master Class"

Middleton Lakes RSPB Reserve.

Birds on the Norfolk broads

Upton Warren Flashes again

Some Birds from yesterdays trip with Alan

Alan has a day out in Anglesea

Gannet City - Troup Head

Great Day on the broads

Upton Warren, The Moors Pool.

Black swan


A Sunday morning stroll.

Little Walk

Titchfield Haven.29-06-11

Titchfield Haven,Hill Head,Hampshire.24-06-11

White Crowned Sparrow

Titchfield Haven.29-06-11

Our time has come !

Tameside Nature Reserve,Tamworth.

Adventures in Birding

Our time has come !

A day out - if you fancy it

Martin Mere day out July 23rd

Westport lake

This weekend day out

"Escape from the Jungle"

How about a few Owls and friend

Visit to Berry Head

Waders galore at Blacktoftsands Hi

Borrowpit Lake.

Best time for waders at Blacktoft sands.

Whitby,North Yorkshire.

RSPB Cymru Reserves Roadtrip (22nd-24th July 2011) Part One

RSPB Cymru Reserves Roadtrip (22nd-24th July 2011) Part Two

PART TWO OF Westport - a Dull Day

Tardibigge Locks

"The Egret has landed"

Upton Warren Nature Reserve

Egrets R Us


RSPB Cymru Reserves Roadtrip (22nd-24th July 2011) Part Three

Upton Warren-Water Rail Hide

"A good day at the old jetty"

Yesterday at Doxey

frampton marsh

Swan Timeline:

Remember the Wandereing Whistling Duck????

Upton Warren-Water Rail Hide

Patience IS a virtue!!

Hillers Farm Shop/ Garden Center

Bank Holiday Birding in Exeter, August 27-30th 2011

Birding in Burnham

August bank holiday 2011

The Red Kite Feeding and Rehabilitation Centre.

Knypersley reservoir [what's left of it!]

Kenfig Nature Reserve Visit 23/09/2011

Marsh Harrier at Marshside

A day out at Kingsbury Water Park

Snettisham Lagoons

Martin Mere October 1st - Red Crested Pochard

Our Day Out

A grand day out

Just a few more from Martin Mere Trip - A range I guess.

PEACE in the camp

"The old shingle jetty again".

Upton Warren-Water Rail Hide

Shapwick Heath

Geese in flight

Coming in to Roost at Martin Mere

Forest Farm 17/10/2011

Hillers Farm Shop/ Garden Center

A good day for obliging birds ?

A tantalising glimpse

Trip to Ireland

Martin Mere 30 Oct 2011

"Baffins Pond & Eastney Beach"

"It's that man again" not Tommy Handley from I.T.M.A."

"Yet more Pompey pics"

Hillers Garden Centre, Alcester, Warks.

Photo session in Gloucestershire

Slimbridge WWT Visit

Slimbridge Wetlands Centre

Farlington Marshes.

A look back over the year

Purple Sandies 18/12/2011

Walk out

A Day at Barnes

A trip out

Belvide Reservoir, Brewood, Staffs.

A day at the Mere , Scarborough

Upton Warren 26th and 27th December 2011 - Cetti's Warbler again!

Middleton RSPB-Revisited....Again!

Boxing Day at Blashford

Thanks to the ISB communiuty and a day out in Northumberland.

Slapton Ley Devon.


Wat Tyler Country park, Essex

Hillers in January

Whitacre Heath Nature Reserve, North Warks.

Came near enough after 3 hours.

Fishers Green Lee Valley

More from Sunny Martin Mere

Happy New Year to you ALL

The Canadian Regiment at The Battle of Upton Warren 2012.

Martin Mere

Two hours at Hillers

A brilliant birding Sunday

Just a few more fill ins from that Martin Mere trip

West Hagley Falconry

A Morning at Arne

Icy Saturday at Abberton Reservoir

Wonderful mooch around Whitacre Heath reserve

Martin Mere with Psilo 19/02/12

Martin Mere Saturday 25th

More Martin Mere

Not only swans fly at Martin Mere

26th February 2012 - Rousse and Grande Havre, Guernsey


The family, Black swan

The family, Black swan

A rare sunny day - part one - "Never shy"

A rare sunny day - part 2 "Once Bittern"

Lady luck and the Golden plovers

Seabird Cities - A Day Out with Guillemots at St Abbs Head

Hillers - South Midlands

On "Seafari"

Easter Date with a Grand Old Lady

A Very Grey Day At Upton Warren

More from Upton Warren

New reserve.

"Langstone Harbour"

A place to go

Upton Warren in the wind and rain.

Chiffs n' Willows

Greylake 12 Apr 2012

Middleton RSPB

Getting bigger

Return to Upton Warren to check the Grebe nest.

A good day out

Hares looking at you...

A must if you are close by

The First Ever RSPB Scottish Birdfair : Part 1

The First Ever RSPB Scottish Birdfair : Part 2

Upton Warren Flashes

Stover park.

Trip to the Yorkshire dales

The Beach (Pt 1 – Offshore)

The Beach (Pt 2 – Onshore)

A must to visit

"Jewel of the Forth"; The Isle of May:- Part One - "Treasure or Terror Island?"

"Jewel of the Forth"; The Isle of May:- Part Two - A Picnic with Puffins

"Jewel of the Forth"; The Isle of May:- Part Three - "In the Court of the Cliffdwellers"

change of habitat

Argaty Airshow

The Eyes have It

Trip to the coast

New Hide at Upton Warren

They did it!

Upton Warren

Gone Fishing (Part Two)

This little Pinkie went to Martin Mere.

They're Back!

Spinnies Bird Hide Bangor

A Rare Sight

Upton Warren

WWT Arundel


Water Rail

Kestrel at Croxall Nature Reserve.


A day in the woods (Pt I)

A day in the woods (Pt II)

High Tide at RSPB Marshside (Southport)

Not really Siberia

A good week

Hold on to your hats

Deeping Nature Reserve

The eagle has landed

Message for Mr Potter

Gorse Hill Nature Reserve, West Lancs

Middleton RSPB ......Again!

Deeping Nature reserve last Sunday

Rainham Marsh RSPB

Farlington Marshes

Hayling oysterbeds

A walk in Picardy

A wet morning at Rainham Marshes.

Le Teich, Gironde

Who'd be a parent?

Catching the odd Ray ..

One of those days

Milvus milvus - A feast

EEL !!! regret meeting this bird

York Falconry centre

Farlington Marshes

Big Waters Nature Reserve.

Rising Sun Nature Reserve

Come walk with me

Come walk again

Come walk a little more

NORTH CAVE (YWT) Gravel Pits 1-Apr

Liked by

  • Bird watching with friends since
    14 May, 2010

  • Bird watching with friends since
    14 May, 2010

  • Bird watching with friends since
    14 May, 2010

  • Bird watching with friends since
    3 Jun, 2010

  • Bird watching with friends since
    4 Jun, 2010