Hungry Russian ducks flock to Linlithgow
7 November 2006
Not many visitors head for Scotland during winter in search of warmth. On Sunday 12 November 2006, there’s a chance for families to see and feed some of the ducks and geese that have made their way to Linlithgow Loch from even chillier climes. Among them are goldeneye, common pochard and tufted ducks as well as greylag geese. Many of them have arrived from Russia, Scandinavia and even Greenland in search of food and (relative) warmth.
Historic Scotland rangers will talk about the tasty treats that help give birds a boost at this time of year. Families will also be able to have a go at making bird cakes and creating feeders from recycled household waste like old milk cartons.
Martin Gray, Historic Scotland Ranger, said: "Our winter visitors have started to arrive at the loch and this is a fantastic time to see many different species. It's hard to imagine coming to Scotland to be warm in winter, but some of these birds are from countries which experience even colder weather and such extremes mean that they have to migrate elsewhere in order to survive.
As it's a time of year when food is quite scarce, we can give them some help by feeding them the right sorts of things. We’ll be talking about what feed is better for the birds’ digestive systems, as bread can often cause them problems.
Children will be invited to become special chefs for our feathered friends, creating some delicious bird cakes, which are sure to involve a lot of gooey fun! They can then take the food and feeders home and attract birds to their own gardens."
While some of the ducks and geese will stay all winter on the loch, others are just using it as a staging post on a much longer journey to southern Europe and need to feed up before moving on.
The 'Feed the Birds' event is free, but spaces are limited and need to be reserved in advance by phoning 01506 842065 or emailing HS.RangersScotland.gsi.gov.uk. The group will meet at the front of Linlithgow Palace at 1.00pm. The activity will last around two hours. Warm and waterproof winter clothing plus stout footwear are strongly recommended.
Notes for editors
- Linlithgow Palace is in Linlithgow off the M9. Telephone 01506 842896.
- Admission is charged to the Palace – though the rangers’ event is free – and tickets are £4.50 for adults, £3.50 for concessions and £2.00 for children.
- The magnificent ruins of Linlithgow Palace are set in a park beside a loch. All of the Stewart kings lived here, and numerous renovations to the Palace’s grand facades and chambers were carried out as each sought to create the ideal modern palace.
- The Palace was last visited by the Stewart family in 1745, when Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed. In 1746, the Duke of Cumberland set the Palace on fire as he left to travel north to fight this very same Stewart at Culloden.
- The magnificent courtyard fountain has been carefully restored and is now on full view to visitors; running every Sunday throughout summer.
- The loch is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the extensive wildfowl population. A well surfaced walkway around the loch gives good views of the abundant water birds including swans, ducks, great-crested and little grebes.
- Historic Scotland stages an extensive annual programme of events at its Properties in Care. For details, visit www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/events or call 0131 668 8926 for an events brochure.