It can be hard to keep the spirits up in January after the merry-making of the festive season is over. It’s deepest, darkest winter and the spring equinox (equal days and nights) is still 10 weeks away.

This is a true story, unfolding as you read, which just might keep your spirits afloat this winter and give you a chance to blow away the cob webs and promote your natural health. It’s a heart warming, success story all about “Bio-havens”.

Not so long ago, in April 2016, a group of Friends raised enough money to install five floating islands on a large shallow loch in Glasgow, surrounded by woodland, scrub and meadow. The purpose, to provide a safe nesting place for the loch’s many breeding birds. This special site is of national importance for roosting migratory birds and was given protected status in 1998 when it was designated amongst Glasgow’s first Local Nature Reserves (LNR’s). The place is of course, Hogganfield Park LNR.

The floating islands or BioHavens installed on the Loch, are like no others before them. They are made from recycled plastic, thus the bio, and are designed to last much longer than traditional wooden nesting rafts (havens). They are especially useful at places where water levels can fluctuate, as nests stay dry whatever the loch level.

All of the BioHavens at Hogganfield Park were planted with locally sourced plants to provide habitat for a range of wildlife. They are similar to an iceberg because under the section under water is just as important. There is an unseen hanging network of roots and rhizomes which increases the surface area for biochemical and physical processes to improve water quality naturally.

Remarkably, only 3 months after their installation, a pair of Great Crested Grebes nested on one of the islands and hatched young. Two eggs were laid and one hatched on 15th August last year. Friends of Glasgow’s LNR’s Chair, Jim Coyle said “We are absolutely thrilled with the success of the islands. This is the result we all hoped for. I know that it is the first time they have used ‘BioHavens’ in Scotland and I believe that this is the first time they have used any sort of artificial floating island north of the border.”

“Historically, Great Crested Grebes suffered persecution, hunted almost to extinction in the 19th century for their head plumage used to decorate lady’s hats, but they are gradually recovering and are a conservation success story. We are really lucky to have them nesting in a Glasgow park and hope the BioHavens continue to help nesting birds produce many future generations.”

It’s a truly magical story which you can be part of. Hogganfield Loch in winter offers rare sights and sounds which will lift your spirits and help you walk off the Christmas indulgence. Embrace your Natural Health Service this New Year, its free and right on your doorstep.

Allison Greig (Glasgow’s Senior Countryside Ranger)

To find out more about Nature led walks and the Friends of Glasgow LNRs visit: