On Friday we said goodbye to the lovely Laura, one of our residential volunteers. We would like to say  BIG thank you to Laura for all of her hard work, and endless enthusiasm! She has even written an excellent account of her time here, please enjoy:

 

"I have just spent 3 weeks residential volunteering at Loch of Kinnordy in beautiful sunshine and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

I am midway through a biology degree so I wanted to volunteer with the RSPB to gain some on-the-ground conservation experience, to see how a nature reserve is run and to improve my bird ID skills. Whilst there, I was given the opportunity to assist Fiona the warden and Mike, the other residential volunteer, with many aspects of reserve work. Every day was different, but we usually started with a quick scan of the loch to record what species were out there. Other tasks included creating interpretation signs, invasive species control, upkeep of visitor areas and people engagement, as well as getting to know the birders who visit regularly. We also did breeding bird surveys, wildfowl surveys, black-headed gull surveys and wader surveys, which involved early starts but worth it to see all the birds. We ran a successful Marsh Harrier event one Saturday to give people a chance to learn about these magnificent birds, which are nesting at the loch. Right on cue, we even witnessed a food pass between the male and the female.

Loch of Kinnordy is advertised as a wetland oasis and it certainly lives up to its name! I was lucky enough to see the nesting Marsh Harrier several times, as well as a pair of Garganey, a Turnstone in full summer plumage, Sedge Warblers, Reed Bunting, Curlew, Snipe and a variety of ducks, amongst many others. It was always a privilege to watch the Osprey fishing at the loch and then returning either to the nest or a post where it sat and devoured its fish. The Osprey chicks are expected to hatch anytime now. Lots of cygnets, ducklings, goslings, oystercatcher chicks and coot chicks hatched while I was there. It wasn’t all about the birds though, as we carried out a wild flower survey (and found 17 different species in a small area), saw lots of butterflies, roe deer, and red squirrels tucking into the peanuts we put out for them. A new highland calf also arrived!

We also spent a day every week helping at Loch Leven, which has a much bigger staff base, plus visitor centre and café, so it was interesting to compare and contrast the two reserves. Whilst there, I enjoyed helping Judy, the education officer, with the Forest School. A class of excited children loved exploring the area, and learning bush craft skills as well as play. It is a great way to get children engaged with wildlife. We also helped with radio tagging a group of lapwing chicks, to help work out what predators are taking them to give an indication of why their numbers are decreasing nationally. It was amazing to see the chicks up close.

The accommodation for volunteers is a comfortable shared flat above the reserve workshop. We saw 30+ species on the feeders outside the flat alone, including a pheasant with 9 chicks, a Spotted Flycatcher and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. We also did a couple of afternoon trips to the nearby Balgavies loch and Forfar loch. The scenery and wildlife of the area is incredible. The reserve is only a mile from the small town of Kirriemuir, JM Barrie’s birthplace, and I enjoyed cycling there along the Kirriemuir path network.

I would definitely recommend volunteering a Loch of Kinnordy. It really is a haven of peacefulness. The variety of wildlife you will see is amazing and the people are very friendly and welcoming. I hope to return to volunteer there in the future. Thankyou for having me!"

 

 

Anonymous