• Winter at Strathbeg

     ‘There and back again’

    ‘Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better’. But I can’t take credit for that. That was Albert Einstein about sixty years ago. And his observation couldn’t be more precise. The past three months passed very quickly. I guess time flies when you are enjoying what you are doing.

    During this period, I had the chance to take part in…

    • 27 Mar 2017
  • IMPORTANT NOTICE: Access to airfield hides

    The MOD are moving our access track to the airfield hides at Loch of Strathbeg. The work started today (30 Jan) and should take less than a week all being well.

    Access should be maintained throughout, but we apologise for any disruption. Please take notice of any signs on site. We will try to keep you updated but please contact the reserve with any urgent questions by calling 01346 532017.

    Thanks!

    • 30 Jan 2017
  • Winter notes

    What have we been up to?

    For the last few months now Savvas and I (Katie) have been residential volunteers at Loch of Strathbeg. We have been living and working on the reserve and it has been great getting to know the reserve and the people that work here. Even in this short amount of time we have done so much and learnt lots of great skills, so I thought it would be a good idea to give a short account of some of the…

    • 27 Jan 2017
  • En Garde! The Art of Fencing...

    Fencing to the stars

    As we come to the end of 2016, it is about time we updated you on our biggest project from this year, our 3km fencing project, which is reaching its final stages. If you have visited the reserve and seen a warden zipping about on an ATV with some fence posts sticking out the back, that’s what we’ve been up to for a lot of the year!


    The humble beginnings of a fence. Photo by Imogen R…

    • 7 Dec 2016
  • Mosstown mosses!

    Recently, staff and volunteers at the Loch of Strathbeg have been busy with all manner of surveying and practical work around the reserve. A big part of the surveying has been monitoring vegetation as part of the Save Our Magnificent Meadows (SOMM) project.

    The aim of the project on the reserve is to restore Mosstown Fen, a large area of fen meadow by the loch, and increase the number and diversity of flowering plants…

    • 26 Nov 2016
  • Sightings and Celebrations

    The WeBS count on the 13th November saw our pink-footed geese number come to more than 12,000. Since then, the numbers have dropped off sharply, repeating the early peaks in numbers that we’ve had for the last couple of years. On the other hand, we’ve had a huge number of whooper swans fly in, totalling 1032 on the 13th. That is the second highest number in the reserve’s history, with 1188 being the highest…

    • 23 Nov 2016
  • Geese, Chainsaws and Space Invaders...

    It’s been a while since we’ve written but a lot has been happening. All of us have been very busy across the reserve with the influx of wintering geese and ducks, and continuing work on fencing and the plantation. Our peak pink-footed geese count so far stands at more than 31,000 (now down to around 10,000), plus around 3900 wigeon, 1175 tufted duck, 1000 barnacle geese, 603 teal, 500 lapwing, 139 pochard…

    • 28 Oct 2016
  • They did it!

    After making history earlier this month by being the first little gull chicks ever proven to definitely hatch in Britain [listen to the story here or watch here and here], all eyes have been on the two youngsters to see if they would survive to take their first flight and they have, making their parents Britain’s first ever successfully breeding little gulls.

    The nest at Loch of Strathbeg has been monitored with…

    • 2 Aug 2016
  • And the winners are....

    We're very excited to be able to announce the winners of our Doric Meadows Poetry Competition that we ran as part of the Save our Magnificent Meadows project. 

    There were three categories in the competition – 11 and under, 12 to 18 years, and 19 and over – which closed on 30 May. The esteemed judging panel of  Jean MacKinnon, Les Wheeler and Robbie Shepherd were tasked with selecting a first, second and third…

    • 29 Jun 2016
  • Little Things Mean A Lot

    It’s summer festival season, and here at Strathbeg there’s a lot going on.

     

    Little gulls – Ian Francis (RSPB)

    Headline Act: As you may have seen from the main Scotland blog we are rather excited. We have little gulls confirmed as breeding on the island in front of the Visitor Centre, (and conveniently also in front of the new office windows)! It’s a first for Scotland, only the sixth time it’s happened…

    • 22 Jun 2016
  • Come celebrate meadows with us

    On Saturday 2 July, like many people across the UK, we will come together to celebrate National Meadows Day.

    The first ever national Meadows Day was held last year and a range of events took place across the UK. This year looks as if it will be an even bigger event and that's certainly the case at Loch of Strathbeg where we would love people to join us for our Meadows Celebration.

    We are planning a day of fun…

    • 13 Jun 2016
  • New Babies, New Buildings, New Beginnings!

    We’re IN!!! Admittedly, we’re not completely sorted out yet, and there are some issues with communications still to be resolved, but we have desks and computers, and the last week has been a veritable storm of putting up shelves , unpacking boxes and finding a home for everything....when we’re not distracted by the view from the window, that is!

    This is the view from the yard:

    New office block –…

    • 16 May 2016
  • Out of Communication!

    We're getting closer to moving office!

    Although this is exciting, it also means there will be a significant amount of disruption to our communications - the phone line will be moving before we do, and although we're shifting the answerphone with it, we may take slightly longer to get back to you as we'll be shifting a load of boxes and furniture.

    Our internet connection will be moving as well, and all the…

    • 4 May 2016
  • Meadows Doric Poetry Competition - the important stuff - Rules, Terms & Conditions and Prizes

    Not heard about the Meadows Doric Poetry Competition yet? Click here for info.

    Competition rules:  

    1. This competition is open to all UK residents, except for any employee of or person directly connected with the RSPB or a Save Our Magnificent Meadows partner organisation and their immediate family members. 
    2. By entering the competition applicants or their parents/legal guardians agree to these Rules and the Terms and …
    • 22 Apr 2016
  • Our Meadows Doric Poetry Competition launches today

    Regular reserve visitors, blog readers and Facebook friends will know that we are involved in an exciting project called Save Our Magnificent Meadows

    Save our Magnificent Meadows is the UK’s largest partnership project transforming the fortunes of vanishing wildflower meadows, grasslands and wildlife. Led by Plantlife, the partnership is made up of 11 organisations, including RSPB Scotland and is primarily funded by…

    • 22 Apr 2016
  • April – Sunshine and Showers

    The April WeBS count is perhaps the most brutal one for those of us who are not ‘morning people’; being out in the field at 4.30 am, alert and ready to count geese can be quite challenging. You do get the reward of glorious sunrises, though, and a real sense of the year turning – on mid-winter counts from where I’m normally situated, the sun comes up behind the Rookery, but now it rises from the sea to the north of the…

    • 13 Apr 2016
  • Round the Bend & Up the Pole

    This has been one of those months when things have been pretty much non-stop.

    We have a new Species & Habitats Warden –welcome to Lorna Dow, who has been on secondment since the end of last year and is brave enough to want to stay! We also have a Meadow Officer starting on 4 April – welcome to Roddy Hamilton, who will be with us until the end of July, heading up the Save Our Magnificent Meadows celebrations, school visits…

    • 31 Mar 2016
  • Bittern Again....

    The bittern(s) continue to provide a good show for some of our visitors to Fen Hide; regular Brian Sandison had some fabulous views this weekend (12/13 March) of both the bittern and an equally obliging otter.

    Otter (Brian Sandison)

     Bittern (Brian Sandison)

    This morning’s WeBS count recorded 20,100 pinkfooted geese using the reserve, along with a great crested grebe of the year, red-headed smew, a go…

    • 14 Mar 2016
  • A Roof Over Our Heads!

    Finally – the roof goes on! (Ed Grace)

    The new office building is really taking shape now, and we’re starting to feel that we actually will be in there one day soon-ish! The roof panels going on, and the interior walls being set out give us a good impression of how it’s going to be; the big windows looking out onto Starnafin Pools are probably going to prove quite a distraction.

    Plans for the ‘Save…

    • 11 Feb 2016
  • GPS tracking of Konik pony grazing activity at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg

    As part of our SOMM project to restore the fen meadow of Mosstown Marsh, several of our Konik ponies have been wearing tracking collars, to give us some idea of where they prefer to go. Analysing this data in relation to the management regime in the various areas of the project and the effect of this on the regrowth of Juncus rush is proving interesting.

     

    Initial data came from one collar  which uplinked directly to…

    • 22 Jan 2016
  • All Frozen Up!

    This weekend’s WeBS count saw a reasonable start time of around 7.00 am, and the Loch practically frozen over! Most of the birds are gathered around a small stretch of open water in the middle, or on the fields and wet areas. Highlights were 8010 pinkfooted geese, 1012 mallards, 1277 teal, 1470 wigeon (and there was a lot of noise from the adjacent flight ponds so there are probably more), 567 whooper swans, 111…

    • 21 Jan 2016
  • Open with care...

    Some of the flooding has gone down at last!

    The track is passable with care, although there is still a deep, wide puddle-come-pothole at the corner by the end of the Tower Pool hide track. The boardwalk to Fen hide is also under water, but passable if you're wearing wellies. There are lots of good birds around - our year list is up to 72, with bearded tit, Slavonian grebe, red-necked grebe, smew, woodcock, purple…

    • 13 Jan 2016
  • Currently closed due to flooding....

    Although Loch of Strathbeg is a wetland site, we have had a bit too much water at one time and the access track has flooded and is no longer accessible. As you can see in the photo below!  We'll keep you updated when it clears.

    We have had 40mm of rain in 24hrs on top of ground that it already very wet. The roads in the surrounding area are also very bad - take care if you are out and about!

    • 8 Jan 2016
  • Happy Holidays

    The roof is taking shape, with the load-bearing walls and roof trusses fitted, so we’re starting to get a good idea of the space we’ll have – at the moment it looks huge, but I expect we’ll fill it quite quickly. The ongoing process of sorting out the stuff that needs to be moved across seems endless; the old office is full of boxes labelled ‘Keep’, ‘Shred’ and ‘Recycle’, and the shredder is running rather warm!…

    • 21 Dec 2015
  • Mud, Glorious Mud

    Time for another update on the building works! With the Big Shed and Dutch Barn now gone, the work on the new office has begun. The back wall, overlooking Starnafin Pools had to come down (which meant moving some rather inquisitive ponies to the adjacent field), and there are any number of diggers and lorries and mounds of earth and great big holes in the ground! (All building works photos by Ed Grace)

    footings for…

    • 19 Nov 2015