A haven for all seasons
Ice Age legacy
During the last Ice Age, glaciers scooped out the shallow depression now occupied by Loch Leven. This was partly infilled with sand and gravel deposited by meltwaters from the retreating glaciers. As a result, half the Loch is less than two metres deep, but with two, much deeper areas, called 'kettle holes', where masses of ice survived for longer. The shallow water provides a home for shoreside plants and easy feeding for dabbling ducks and swans, while deeper areas are perfect for diving ducks.
The Loch offers space, feeding and security for wildfowl. Ducks find safe nesting sites on the islands, while the shore provides cover for their broods and myriads of tiny flies to feed the ducklings. Hundreds of pairs of duck nest around Loch Leven, mostly tufted duck and mallard, but also gadwall, teal, shoveler, shelduck, pintail and wigeon. St Serf's Island, the most important nesting area, has an added benefit. Colonies of breeding gulls help drive away predators, protecting nesting ducks in the process.
The shallow water, secluded shoreline and islands make the Loch an important stopover for wildfowl on migration between breeding and wintering grounds. Other waterfowl find safety here to moult in autumn, while swallows and swifts feed up for their journeys to Africa. More than 35,000 waterfowl visit the Loch in autumn, and many remain throughout the winter. Up to 20,000 pink-footed geese - nearly 10% of the world population - sometimes visit the Loch. Several thousand stay on, grazing the Reserve grasslands or neighbouring fields. Around 100 whooper swans also visit - more than 1.5% of the British wintering population. We are managing the islands and lochside wetlands to ensure disturbance-free conditions for the birds to feed, roost and breed.
Last updated on Monday 17th November 2014 at 16:20 PM. Click here to comment on this page