East Renfrewshire is one of 32 council areas of Scotland. Until 1975 it formed part of the county of Renfrewshire for local government purposes along with the modern council areas of Renfrewshire and Inverclyde. Although no longer a local authority area, Renfrewshire still remains the registration county and lieutenancy area of East Renfrewshire. It borders onto the City of Glasgow, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire. There are numerous sites of importance to nature conservation (SINC) particularly in the south of the area.
Whitelees Windfarm & Eaglesham Moor
The high upland of Eaglesham Moor straddles the border between the South Lanarkshire, East Renfrewshire and East Ayrshire council administrative districts. Covering a massive area, it encompasses moorland, wetland and woodland, with a diverse range of bird and animal species co- existing with Whitelees Windfarm- the largest facility in Europe. While not a nature reserve as such, the operators of the windfarm have taken steps to mitigate the impact of their facility, at least to date. The impact of their latest expansion remains to be seen, and windfarms in general remain contentious issues for birders. The on- site Ranger service is a major plus- point for the site, however, and have been happy to answer queries regarding birding visits. As of July 2011 their site list was 95 different bird species. The car park at the windfarm offers a good starting point for a day’s birding and walking, heed the car park closing times though. Skylark are in abundance in all areas, becoming more bold farther away from the visitor centre. Meadow Pipit are also present in good numbers. Wheatear have been recorded on the vicinity of the turbines themselves.
The major water bodies are recommended for waders and wildfowl, with snipe and curlew recorded. Raptors, as expected, are present, with kestrel and buzzard being the obvious ones. Less common, but still recorded, are hen harrier and peregrine. Finches have been recorded near the visitor centre and at the wooded areas on site. The forests are worth a look for visiting great grey shrike. The path system covers over 70km in total, although by no means all offers birding opportunities. If you are intrepid enough, there are, though, areas to go ‘off trail’, - care should be taken in areas of marshy ground (I was once mobbed by a pair of curlew while stranded knee deep in a marsh) The site is used extensively by walkers and cyclists, although it could not be described as crowded. In short, a more than decent site, which provides good birding in perhaps an unexpected setting.
8 Kenmure View, Howwood, Johnstone, Renfrewshire PA0 1DR
Where to Watch Birds in Scotland
Mike Madders and Julia Welstead - 297 pages, b/w illus, maps - Christopher Helm
ISBN: 071365693XBuy this book from NHBS.com
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RSPB - Lochwinnoch
RSPB Lochwinnoch Reserve - Largs Road, Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire PA12 4JF - Lochwinnoch RSPB Nature Reserve is situated within Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, and is one of the largest remaining wetlands in west Scotland. The reserve is ideal for all the family, as the trails and hides and the visitor centre are all easily accessible. Whilst in the centre, you can enjoy a light snack or browse in the RSPB shop which specialises in optics, natural history books and wild bird care products.
Loch Libo is a long, shallow freshwater loch with aspen growing in the shallow waters and a hillside cloaked in mature sycamore and ash woodland. Rare plants such as cowbane, water parsnip and greater tussock-sedge grow along the shore and there are also signs of otters and water voles.