Winter at Yetholm Loch

Yetholm Loch in winter

February 10th 2016

As the ‘Birds’ homepage notes, one of my local bird habitats is Yetholm loch. Tucked away beneath the surrounding hills, between the farms of Lochside and Lochtower, the loch is just over half a mile long and a quarter of a mile wide. It is a beautiful place, a site of scientific interest and a Scottish Wildlife Trust Reserve.
I arrived at the observation hide at 2.40 and settled down with my telescope. A peaceful, placid world slowly revealed itself. Seven pairs of Gadwall hugged the far end of the loch near the boggy, ‘moss’ zone, as nine pairs of Goldeneye paddled hither and thither elegantly diving with their tails spread into a fan. Ten Mute swans sailed by, which with a Moorhen, Coot, Goosander, Cormorant and a flotilla of Mallard made up the gathering. From a break in the clouds, the setting sun sent out a burst of golden light. Everything was transformed, the light catching every splash and drip of water from the floating, dabbling, diving water birds.


Thirteen years previously the loch had presented a different scene altogether. My diary records January 8th,1997 as a grey, intermittently rainy day which had set in motion a slow thaw. Ice cover remained out in the middle where the bird life huddled. The diary entry continued thus:
“Nothing stirred before me. Then from nowhere I heard a whistle, then a slight rustle disturbed the bullrushes in front of me. Both sounds moved from right to left. I raised the glasses to follow them and focused on the end of the clump where the water met the ice. A swirl of water and a twisting of shiny grey revealed a fantastic sight all in magnified close up. In the right place at the right time, the binocular vision framed two otters’ heads peeping above the water and looking straight at me. Their glossy, shiny coat and sparkling eyes were magnificent, their whiskers sharp and fine.”
Yetholm loch has then provided many lasting memories. For more see my ‘Bird’ page article entitled “Time is but the stream I go fishing in.” (Henry David Thoreau)

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