A great blog from our newest residential volunteer Kath:

"As I wandered through the reserve the other morning, I suddenly noticed a strange noise coming from the peanut feeder by Gullery Hide. Just as I stopped to look at it, the lid burst open and a Red Squirrel burst out from inside and scampered away into the trees. Obviously frustrated with scraping food out of the opening, it had worked out how to climb inside and scoff to its hearts content. An academic genius compared to the poor bemused Great Tit which I see frequently pecking at the acrylic front and not being able to understand why it can’t seem to get any food…

Red squirrel on the correct side of the feeder

Inquisitive red squirrel

I’m Kath Halsall, a Zoology student at Durham and am living at Kinnordy for some of my summer volunteering with the RSPB. I’m now in my third week and still enjoying my time here, despite being frequently menaced by the cattle in the field which shortcuts to the reserve. At least it’s been a good opportunity to improve my fence jumping skills at any rate!

Kinnordy has been a fantastic opportunity to carry out some scientific surveys and get more experience in fieldwork for my degree. Since I’ve been here I’ve got involved with helping to capture footage of large mammals on the camera traps as well as carrying out my own study on the ecological impacts of large mammals on the reserve. There’s so much opportunity to do things under your own initiative here too. Whilst digging around in the workshop the other day (it was a rainy afternoon…) I found an old moth trap, and having helped with the moth group at Cley Marshes where I volunteered last summer, decided to carry out my own surveying. I won’t lie trying to identify everything on my own has been challenging to say the least, especially when without thinking I collected the trap a bit later one sunny morning, and on opening the lid was attacked by a cloud of moths making a bid for freedom after warming up in the sun.

It’s been fantastic being able to monitor the Ospreys here too. Having volunteered at Loch Garten earlier this year and observed the birds on the nest, it was brilliant to actually be able to watch them fishing here, something I’d heard described many times but never actually seen!

If you visit Kinnordy soon you may notice that East hide and Gullery hide have had a new coat of paint, a job which is thankfully finished now. I’m not sure whether my painting skills meant more went on the hides or myself, but they certainly look a lot better now! I’ve still got just over 3 weeks left here so hopefully will have plenty of time to carry on my survey work and hopefully get the moth trap down on the reserve! "

Kinnordy is a magical place to while away a few hours, or a day if you have time. The meadowsweet is in full bloom and smells wonderful and there is a sea of horsetail on the way to swamp hide. Roe deer regularly bound through the reeds, and we were lucky enough to see an otter on Monday morning too. Definitely worth popping in to visit!