Time flies at RSPB reserve

The reserve appeals to all ages.
The reserve appeals to all ages.

Nature lovers are being invited to take a trip down memory lane this month as RSPB Scotland Loch Leven marks its 50th anniversary.

The Kinross-shire nature reserve is celebrating its half-century with a timeline exhibition running throughout October and a party over the final weekend.

Throughout the year, locals, visitors and previous staff and volunteers have been encouraged to send photos and stories of their memories of the reserve over the last five decades.

In addition, volunteers have unearthed some fascinating information about the reserve’s history by searching through old documents.

They include a document from the 15th century describing the importance of the loch for geese and swans and a map dating back to 1796.

The timeline also includes stories and photos gathered from visitors and staff from the last five decades including the first warden, Jack Swan, and the first teacher warden, Bridget Gray.

The local art club, KADAC, who also celebrate their 50th anniversary this year, have helped to mark the occasion by gifting a carved wooded bowl and sketchbook of 50 paintings of the nature reserve.

Alice O’Rourke, visitor experience officer, said: “It’s been an exciting challenge to gather these stories together and see what’s changed, and what has stayed the same.

“It’s amazing to see how the woodlands have grown and all the new trails. A highlight was when the first field teacher, Bridget Gray, got in touch. She, and the first warden Jack Swan, set up the visitor centre together in 1971 and she began leading school visits.

The spectacle of the geese arriving from Iceland and Greenland each year brings many visitors to the centre and was part of the reason why Loch Leven was chosen to be the location of RSPB’s first nature centre - a place to inspire people about nature in the hope that they would help to conserve it.

Loch Leven National Nature Reserve was founded in 1964 by the Nature Conservancy (predecessor of SNH) and three years later the RSPB purchased the land at Vane Farm. The official opening was by the 6th Earl of Mansfield and 300 people attended.

The 50th birthday party takes place on October29 from 11am – 3pm. Visitors are invited to join the festivities and take part in free activities including a history walk, fire lighting and den building, pond dipping, scavenger hunts, games, talks and cake.