Wildlife in and around Glasgow
(Cover photo by Sam Hobson)
Did you know that Glasgow is home to a wide range of wildlife species? Glasgow's many green spaces, such as the Botanical Gardens and Kelvingrove Park, support a surprising array of wildlife who make this city their home.
In this post, we highlight just some of the animal species you may be able to spot!
Aside from the gulls and the pigeons, there are many bird species that can be seen in and around Glasgow. Small flocks of adorable long-tailed tits, great tits, blue tits, goldfinches and greenfinches are just some of the species that can be found in Glasgow’s city gardens and parks. There is even a small population of noisy ring-necked parakeets living on the Vet School Campus, Garscube! And if you take a stroll along the river Kelvin and keep an eye out, you might even spot a kingfisher or a heron.
If you’re an avid bird watcher, you may have seen the world’s fastest bird swooping overhead around the city. According to the RSPB, peregrine falcons are now thriving in Glasgow. Watch out for them nesting on tower blocks, including the main University tower!
Finally, house sparrows are one species that is becoming rarer in Glasgow due to a lack of available places for them to breed, with their population having dropped by 90% in recent years. Partick is home to a few lively populations of house sparrows, so you may be able to hear them noisily chirping in the bushes! Dr Paul Baker is a member of the Glasgow Sparrow Study Group and has been monitoring populations of house sparrows in Glasgow since 2014. He runs a Facebook page called Partick Sparrow, which you can follow here for updates on the sparrow populations!
Water voles are large round fluffy rodents that live along the riverbanks and streams, and were the inspiration for “Ratty” from Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind in the Willows”! Despite their population rapidly declining across Britain, water voles have been around in Glasgow for hundreds of years, living in wetlands, marshes and ditches across the city. In fact, a local population of water voles has now been discovered over in Easterhouse! This population is now considered to be the water vole stronghold in Scotland, and is monitored by the Glasgow Water Vole Ambassador Project, a partnership between the University of Glasgow, Scottish Natural Heritage(SNH) and Glasgow City Council (GCC).
Although they may be very elusive and hard to spot, it is possible to see otters in Glasgow! If you’re really lucky, you may be able to see these charismatic mammals swimming at previously recorded locations such as the River Kelvin, the River Clyde or at the Forth and Clyde Canal. Otters are most active in the early morning and in the late evening.
There are 17 species of bat living in the UK and 9 of these are in Scotland – from the pipistrelle to the noctule. In Glasgow, you are most likely to see common pipistrelles. These bats are tiny, with a wingspan of just 20cm, and can be seen at dusk flapping around trees or near rivers and streams. Recordings of bat calls in Glasgow include pipistrelles in Hyndland and in Partick!
For more information on bats in Glasgow and Scotland, check out the Bat Conservation Trust.
Hedgehogs are becoming rarer in Glasgow, following the general UK trend. Their population has fallen from around 30 million individuals in the 1950s, to just one million today. The RSPB recommends Springburn as a good area to spot them snuffling around at night, but recently I was lucky enough to see one walking about in Hyndland!
Reptiles & Amphibians
There are six amphibian species (common frog, common toad, smooth newt, palmate newt, great crested newt and natterjack toad) and four reptile species (slowworms, common lizard, adder and grass snake) living in Scotland. It is possible to see reptiles and amphibians in your own garden or a nearby allotment. Compost heaps are often home to slowworms, hiding in the dark and feasting on invertebrates such as slugs and woodlice. Sheds and greenhouses are particularly good places to look for frogs, as they like to hide out in damp places with bugs to eat. Reptiles and amphibians love hiding under logs and log piles, paving slabs and sheds, so don't forget to check these! Finally, during May to October a good place to look for frogs, toads and newts is your local pond, as these species all need to return to ponds to breed during these months.
If you’d like some more information about where to see amphibians and reptiles in Glasgow, and also about conservation projects happening in the area (including the Scottish Dragon Finder Project), check out Froglife Scotland.
There are 24 species of bumblebee in the UK, but in Glasgow bee species you are most likely to see are the common carder, garden and white-tailed bumblebees. You can see them buzzing around flowers collecting pollen throughout the spring and summer months!
Red foxes have been residing in Glasgow for at least sixty years, living in the suburban parks and gardens throughout the city. They are quite a common sight whilst walking around suburban areas at night, and particularly when cubs leave their den to forage for themselves around August and September. You may have also heard their unmistakable "shrieking" calls, especially around December when foxes start to establish and defend their territories!
Have you seen any interesting wildlife around Glasgow lately? Let us know in the comments below, or by tweeting us @UofG_PGRBlog !