• Recent and not-so-recent sightings: 28 Nov 19

    The trouble with working on a reserve the size of Strathbeg is you don’t get to see all of it very often, there is a lot to do that doesn’t involve binoculars, and rarities can slip through without us noticing unless someone who’s actually here to do some birdwatching lets us know! Add to that several lightning strikes which have disconnected us from the internet for a total of about two months and you end up with perhaps…

    • 28 Nov 2019
  • Some changes at Strathbeg…..

    If you visit the reserve in the next few weeks, you’ll see that there is something afoot in front of the Visitor Centre at Loch of Strathbeg.

    Starnafin Pools, Lorna Dow

    This view will be changing, just slightly. As many folk will know, the predator fence that was put up to protect the nesting terns and gulls on the islands was extremely successful. We went from approximately 20 pairs of common terns before fence…

    • 28 Nov 2019
  • Water Vole Surveys

    During my internship at Loch of Strathbeg I got the chance to take part in water vole surveys here and at Loch Spynie.

    Water voles are widespread but have suffered declines due to habitat changes and predation by American mink.  Carrying out surveys is important to firstly find out whether water vole are present on the reserve but also to provide a picture of how the habitat is being used. This is carried out yearly on…

    • 7 Nov 2019
  • My season as a Reserves Intern on the RSPB North East Scotland Coastal Reserves - Julie Ellis

    Interns Katie (L) and Julie (R), Lorna Dow

    From March to September 2019, I have been one of the Reserves Interns on the RSPB North East Scottish Coastal Reserves, based at Loch of Strathbeg. I chose to immerse myself in this voluntary internship as a stepping stone to returning to work in Scottish nature conservation after spending far too long in a city office-based job.

    I can’t believe how quickly the season has flown…

    • 5 Oct 2019
  • New Interns 2019!

    We’ve been a bit quiet of late on the blog as we’ve been super busy out and about on the reserves. It’s now time to catch up!  

    A big event for us on the reserves early in the year, was a change on personnel. The end of February saw us say goodbye to the interns of 2018/19, Kim Grant and Sally Dunbar. Our interns very much become part of the team and it’s always sad to see them go. Hopefully, it’s on…

    • 24 Jun 2019
  • Recent Sightings 28/11/2018

    It has been the year of the whooper swan here at Loch of Strathbeg with our record count of 1599 in October.

    Our latest count of pink-footed geese is 6979 which is fairly modest in comparison to past years, however the majority of the birds are using the low ground area of the reserve which means there are still some spectacular lifts to be seen! As well as pink-feet there have also been a few greylag and barnacle geese…

    • 28 Nov 2018
  • Autumn

    If you have visited Strathbeg over the last few weeks you’ll have noticed the leaves turn from a golden hue and fall from the trees, and the thousands of pink-footed geese and whooper swans make their arrival.

    As the bright colours of summer fade away there are certain things you can do in your garden to ensure you are giving nature a home as winter draws in.

    While bird tables and feeders are used by our feathered…

    • 19 Nov 2018
  • Photography workshop

    Some of my fondest memories of Strathbeg have come from the evenings here. The way the light casts over the water and the several bird species that come to roost. These combined fills the air with wonder and excitement, not to mention the sounds that echo around the reserve as twilight hits. Due to this, I couldn’t resist hosting a photography workshop around sunset to showcase nature at its best. In conjunction with…

    • 15 Oct 2018
  • Magnificent Moths!

    When most people think of moths they think of drab, brown wee things that live in clouds of dust and eat holes in your carpet. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and I’m here to change your mind in one short blog post!

    Moths are often overlooked in a budding naturalist’s quest for beauty in favour of their relative butterflies. Contrarily, many moths are as brightly coloured and patterned as butterflies…

    • 29 Aug 2018
  • The Re-Tern of the Terns

    A big project we have been working on recently is the re installation of the tern platform at Loch Spynie, near Elgin. This proved to be a good challenge for the team - battling bad weather, problem solving and deadlines along the way.


     The old platform, Kim Grant

    Back in February, we began the destruction of the platform. Rowing out to the middle of the loch armed with equipment on a small boat, required a lot of…

    • 15 May 2018
  • Recent Sightings - 04/05/18

    It is definitely feeling a lot more like spring at the reserve. Common terns are starting to come back now and can be seen swooping around the island, sedge warblers are singing and small tortoiseshell and green-veined white butterflies are on the wing.

    There has been plenty to see over the past few weeks here at Strathbeg. We have had three spoonbill on reserve over the past few days and a green winged teal showing…

    • 4 May 2018
  • Introducing the 2018 interns, Part 2

    Hello everyone! Having started 2 months ago, I thought it was about time I introduced myself! I’m Sally, one of the reserve Interns, and I’ll be living and working here at the Loch of Strathbeg right through until the end of the year.

    Having started life at Strathbeg as a local volunteer last autumn I’m excited to see what more the reserve has to offer throughout the spring and summer months!

    So far…

    • 4 May 2018
  • Introducing the 2018 interns, Part 1

    Hi Kim here – one of this year’s interns at Loch of Strathbeg! I just thought I’d write a blog in order to introduce myself and let you all know what we’ve been up to so far this year. 

    Having undertaken a short term voluntary placement at Strathbeg last summer, I couldn’t resist applying for this year’s internship. The opportunities it presents for those wanting to start a career in conservation…

    • 30 Apr 2018
  • Dunbar Hide: celebrating a collaborative project that's bringing people closer to nature

    Kirsty Nutt describes an exciting collaborative project which saw a volunteer group work with Aberdeen Foyer and HMP Grampian to deliver a new viewing structure

    Two weeks ago I had the privilege of attended the official opening of the Dunbar hide at Loch of Strathbeg. If you’ve not been yet, I would encourage you to pop along as it’s already provided great views of otters and a wintering bittern.



    • 4 Apr 2018
  • A Community Woodland is the Aim and Tree Planting is the Game

    It has been estimated that the plantation at Loch of Strathbeg has around 3000 lodgepole pines, a species planted for timber production. It is also a non-native species, which is why this stretch of woodland is gradually being removed. Our plan is to plant a new area of mixed woodland to compensate and create a space for all to enjoy.

    Our woodland will consist of a variety of native tree species including alder…

    • 9 Mar 2018
  • New year, new list for 2018

    Following on from our Facebook post about the Loch of Strathbeg year list, I thought I’d update on where we are so far into January with the count.

    Bird listing isn’t for everyone but we keep the reserve list as up to date as we can, for our own benefit and for visitors who are interested in the number of different species that can be seen at the reserve. Some species are very much seasonal, many of our duck and…

    • 5 Jan 2018
  • So long, farewell....

    Our latest clutch of interns have fledged from Strathbeg this week. James Butcher and Sarah Bedford have been with us since April 2017, starting off as residential volunteers then staying on and becoming interns for the rest of the year.

    In honour of their last day we took some time off from the usual Friday jobs and took part in a mini Bird Race on the reserve. There were four teams of two and for an hour and half the…

    • 16 Dec 2017
  • Recent Sightings 22/11/17

    There was no such thing as a lazy Sunday at Loch of Strathbeg this weekend. The team were out bright and early to carry out our monthly Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS). The wintering ducks are starting to arrive on the reserve with 1300 wigeon, 123 goldeneye, 77 teal, 30 tufted duck and 14 pintail counted. There has also been good numbers of whooper swans with counts of around 850.

    The pink footed goose count was fairly modest…

    • 22 Nov 2017
  • Many hands...

    On a recent sunny Saturday, a keen group of volunteers from Aberdeen University Conservation Society dragged themselves out of bed to spend the day helping out as a volunteer work party at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg.

    Some of our band of merry volunteers (Photo: Sarah Bedford)

    Many of them made the trip from Aberdeen to Fraserburgh by public transport, and then they had to be raring to go nice and early and then pull on…

    • 17 Nov 2017
  • Dunbar Hide: a new hide in the making

    The new Dunbar Hide: truly a team effort!

    As I’ve quickly come to realise, any project at Strathbeg is a team effort, but the new Dunbar Hide which is currently taking shape on the reserve is a fantastic example of community partnership in action. Thanks to a lot of hard work by many people over the past year, visitors will soon be able to enjoy a new path and boardwalk out into the wetland, leading to the new hide which…

    • 26 Oct 2017
  • Keeping our beach beautiful

    The northern tip of the Loch of Strathbeg reserve is one of its least-visited corners – yet in the few months I have been here, it’s quickly grown to be one of my favourites. From the village of St Combs, five miles of sand beach and towering dunes sweep south past the estuary to the lighthouse at Rattray Head.

    It’s a beautiful beach, but like all beaches it suffers from an ever-growing tideline of plastic…

    • 12 Oct 2017
  • Fabulous fungi

    As autumn began, RSPB Loch of Strathbeg was delighted to host a fungi identification course in partnership with NESBREC (North East Scotland Biological Records Centre). Twenty keen fungi hunters joined forces on the day, led by the enormously knowledgeable Liz Holden. 

    Liz leads the group into the wet fen, near Fen Hide where an infamous stinkhorn fungus is uncovered. (Photo: Sarah Bedford)

    Ranging in skills from complete…

    • 27 Sep 2017
  • A haul of Koniks

    What’s the collective noun for a group of Konik ponies? I am not sure, but this spring/summer has certainly seen a veritable haul of ponies welcomed onto the reserve. Our herd number has bloomed from 32 to 39, with seven healthy foals born between March and July.

    Three of the new arrivals in the Starnafin group. (Photo: Sarah Bedford)

    Six colts and one filly can now call the Loch of Strathbeg their…

    • 16 Aug 2017
  • Bursting with colour

    RSPB Scotland Loch of Strathbeg's Wildlife Garden (Photo: Sarah Bedford)

    Summer is in full swing in Loch of Strathbeg's Wildlife Garden. This oasis, just outside the Visitor Centre, is a haven for birds, bees and butterflies. Planted up over many years, our well-established wildlife garden is a real joy to wander around, especially when the sun shines as it seems to have been doing regularly in these past few weeks…

    • 16 Aug 2017
  • Ospreys investigate the nest platform

    Ospreys investigate the Loch of Strathbeg nest

    Ospreys investigate the Loch of Strathbeg nest, June 2017 (Photo: Brian Sandison)

    Opsreys are an almost daily sight here at Loch of Strathbeg over the summer, often to be found fishing over the loch. So far, none had thoroughly investigated the artificial nest and platform which were constructed for them last year – so far that is, until now!

    On 26th June, we were excited to find no less than four Ospreys circling…

    • 15 Jul 2017