Afternoons are slowly stretching out and love is in air with wigeon and mallard busy with courtship displays. The nest boxes have been emptied of last years nests ready to welcome new occupants shortly – but it is still very much winter. The reserve is blanketed in snow and the numerous water bodies created by the recent floods are now ice. The ponies stand in a stoic huddle surveying the frozen wastes. Hundreds of teal, mallards, wigeon, swans and geese are roosting on the partly frozen loch. Goldeneye, the solitary snowy drake smew and goosanders are fishing in the remaining puddles and a small number of shovellers, gadwall and tufties occasionally emerge from the reeds. Mute swans are busily big and territorial while the whoopers quietly snooze among the reeds with intermittent bursts of conversational hooting and dabbling in icy waters. Noisy skeins of greylags come and go from local fields during the day and in the evenings their honking can be heard as they stream overhead in the dark, returning to Kinnordy for the night. A flock of lapwings is almost invisible hanging out amongst snowy bog bean and rushes.

The woods are full of hyperactive tits – coal, blue, great and long tails, siskin, chaffinches and redpolls, some Christmassy robins, ticking wrens and blackbirds. Treecreepers and reed buntings are also around and a small flock of brilliantly red bullfinches. A large flock of brambling has been in trees at the edge of the reserve, diving into a nearby field while I have been hacking back a hawthorn hedge and a flock of redwing have passed by too. Buzzards are mewing overhead and the crows in the pines do a noisy late afternoon murmuration almost as good as starlings as they settle for the evening. I have seen two snowy white ermine with black tipped tails scurrying around, lots of squirrels running up and down the trees and dark hares and white bottomed roe deer  lolloping across white fields. The snow provides a record of where the deer hang out at night, where the fox has been, zig zag hare tracks, big goose feet and pheasants dragging their tails.

Alison – residential volunteer

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