With so many fascinating reserves brimming with wildlife around the Forth, it only makes sense to share some of the wonderful stories about the work we do, the people we meet and the wildlife we see. I'm Ami Kirkbright, the Assistant Warden for the Forth Reserves and I thought I'd start by introducing RSPB Black Devon Wetlands, one of five reserves under the Forth Reserves umbrella and a wonderful place for both wildlife and people.
The thing about RSPB Black Devon Wetlands I love the most is the transformation from urban townscape to openness and nature. We are so lucky to have this gem of a reserve on the outskirts of Alloa in such close proximity for people to easily come and enjoy. Signing a 21 year lease to manage and maintain this reserve in 2015 makes it one of the RSPB’s newest reserves, and 2017 saw a huge increase in activity on site, with major habitat management, improved access, a series of events and lots of wonderful work from our volunteers.
The viewing screen from across the pools – David Palmar
I thought as we get going in 2018 I would share some of my highlights of 2017. Why it’s such a pleasure to work here, and why it’s such a great place to come and visit.
Watching this reserve evolve over the past three years from when I was a Forth Reserves volunteer to now, has been incredible! So much has been achieved and we have so many people to thank for it - the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative (IFLI) and our awesome volunteers to name just a couple. IFLI is a four-year Heritage Lottery Funded partnership that centre on recognising and celebrating the natural, cultural and historical heritage of the Inner Forth and is working with communities all over the area. It has been a HUGE help getting the reserve up and running and making it such an incredible place for people to visit. It has helped improve the access to and around the reserve by funding new and improved paths; our incredible and unique viewing screen (fast becoming an iconic structure within the landscape); benches so you can ‘Take and pew and enjoy the view’; habitat works such as new pools and scrapes for wildlife; and our new set of pond dipping platforms so we can engage with children and adults about the diversity of aquatic invertebrate life living in the ponds. None of this would be possible without the support of IFLI. There is so much more but I would need another blog just for that, but it is hugely appreciated! If you would like to see what IFLI has been up to over the past four years, apart from the work at Black Devon Wetlands, and what it has planned for its final farewell, check out the Inner Forth Landscape Initiative website.
Surveying Black Devon Wetlands – David Palmar
Working with our incredible volunteers is another highlight! Rain or shine, wind or snow, (occasionally all four at the same time), they come out and help us do all kinds of practical tasks on the reserves. This can be anything from building the boardwalk leading to our viewing screen, to cutting down tree mallow on Fidra (one of our sea bird islands further out in the Forth) or some litter picking, no job is too big or too small for this fantastic team of people. The most recent project they have been helping out with on the reserve is the building of our pond dipping platforms. Our volunteers have dedicated over 200 hours of their time to help us complete this huge task - for which our cold, numb hands thank you immensely!
Volunteers working on the board walk and pond dipping platform – David Palmar
However, my BIGGEST highlight is the number of people we’ve connected with over the past year. Despite its location so close to Alloa, the reserve was a bit of an unknown. So in order to put it on the map and get the name out there in the wider community, we officially launched RSPB Black Devon Wetlands in April 2017, and celebrated with a Family Fun Day. We had storytelling, treasure hunts, pond dipping, wildlife watching, all with the comfort of a beautiful yurt and wood burning stove plus plenty of cake to go around. Local people and wildlife enthusiasts were out in force and over 100 people came to explore the reserve on that one day.
This was a huge boost for us and we have since had many other events highlighting Black Devon Wetland’s amazingness, which included Black Devon After Dark where we did moth trapping and bat detecting. But it’s not just about the natural heritage of the site, there is also the cultural heritage. For instance we held an Historic Landscape event, discovering the reserve’s fascinating past and getting an exclusive look inside the Clackmannan Tower, which overlooks the reserve, with a guided tour from Historic Environment Scotland.
Various event at RSPB Black Devon Wetlands
It truly has been all go for 2017, and 2018 will be no different. We have a list of upcoming exciting events which can be found on the RSPB Black Devon Wetlands website, ranging from a Dawn Chorus to a sunset guided walk with a Family Fun Day in between, so something for everyone!
Please head on down to experience this wonderful place and get in touch if any of our 2018 events take your fancy!
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