• 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
  • A surprisingly good year for Fowlsheugh's seabirds

    We've got some news for you from some of our other reserves in Aberdeenshire. Derren Fox and Kirsty Nutt describe the seabird breeding season success at both Fowlsheugh and Troup Head and why Scotland's seabirds are still struggling.

    On a day like this, summer feels a long time ago... but it’s nice to think back to those long, bright days when a walk along cliffs in Aberdeenshire was filled with the sounds of…

    • 14 Nov 2015
  • Signs of Progress!

    Works update: Demolition work is almost complete – the Big Shed and Dutch barn are no more, and there are huge holes in the sides of the Visitor Centre where the new bird-feeder viewing window and connecting door to the toilets and office are to go. The interior of the VC looks rather forlorn, with all the roof cladding ripped out! There are alternative toilet facilities round the back of the byre, and car parking is…

    • 20 Oct 2015
  • Celebration, Construction and Chaos!

    Firstly, CONGRATULATIONS to Fraserburgh and District RSPB Wildlife Explorers, who celebrated their twentieth birthday this weekend with the ‘Big Bird Box Bash!’ Over thirty members and leaders, past and present, held a party ...

    Jim Lister and Kirsty McLeod get down to some serious construction

    ... they made bird boxes (this was the very first thing they did 20 years ago), decorated cupcakes, did lots…

    • 28 Sep 2015
  • Autumn Begins!

    The black stork stayed around until almost the end of the month and the great white egret was definitely still here on 30 Aug. The autumn migration seems to have got well under way with falls of migrants all along the east coast – over the last week, the Plantation yielded lesser whitethroat, pied and spotted flycatchers, garden warblers, a couple of whinchat and a greenish warbler, one of our visitors encountered…

    • 3 Sep 2015
  • Mid-August Update

    Recent sightings: The black stork continues to make regular appearances, in between skulking in the rushes – it’s usually seen on the pools in front of the Visitor Centre, and occasionally on the Low Ground. The great white egret has proved more elusive, tending to be seen in the reeds along the north-east corner of the loch, north of the Cut. 17 August saw a spotted redshank and a little stint drop in briefly…

    • 24 Aug 2015
  • Black Stork!

    A first for the reserve, and something not seen very often in our area!

    photos by Mike Chandler (Thanks!)

    Seen this morning from the Visitor Centre, and showing well except when it goes for a snooze in the rushes at the back of Starnafin Pools, our first ever Black Stork has caused some excitement! The bird has a DARVIC ring -White with black letters, F05P - which, we believe, indicates that it is a youngster ringed…

    • 6 Aug 2015
  • Lost property - prescription sunglasses!

    Found at Troup Head - pair of prescription sunglasses in blue Optical Express case. Case has traces of printing as if it's been put down on wet ink, may say Miller, School of Civil Engineering, Geoscience.

    If these are yours, they are at the office at Loch of Strathbeg - give us a call on 01346 532017 or email Strathbeg@rspb.org.uk to sort out getting them back!

    • 28 Jul 2015
  • Meanwhile, amongst the seabirds...

    I WAS going to write something about our seabird colonies at Troup Head and Fowlsheugh, and how well they are doing this year - however, my colleague Kirsty has beaten me to it!

    See what she has to say about a recent visit to Troup Head here

    Details of how to get to our cliff-top reserves are on their respective web pages - Troup Head and Fowlsheugh. Although the main breeding season for the guillemots, puffins and razorbills…

    • 27 Jul 2015
  • A Busy Time of Year

    Looking back over the past couple of weeks, our new foals continue to do well, although they spend quite a lot of time asleep, so if you’re looking for them they may be curled up in the rushes or flat out in the sunshine! In the Save Our Magnificent Meadows project area, the first lesser butterfly orchid plants are coming up, there’s quite a bit of ragged robin showing, and northern marsh orchid spikes are flowering.…

    • 15 Jun 2015
  • An Unseasonal Season

    It seems our great white egret was a different bird to the one that was around at the beginning of the month – the first one was ringed, but the second one wasn’t, and bill and leg colours differed. The little egrets are still around, the wood sandpiper lingered until the 23 May, when it was seen along with a male ruff which is coming into breeding plumage. Up to five little gulls have been recorded on the…

    • 2 Jun 2015
  • Quick Update - 19 May

    So as soon as I hit the 'publish' button on the blog yesterday, the egrets proved me a liar - the great white egret is still around, visible from Fen Hide, and the little egrets - or at least one of them - are back on the Low Ground. In addition, a wood sandpiper was recorded from Fen Hide yesterday.

    People sometimes ask 'Why don't you have such-and-such a bird on your year list, I had one here last week!' -…

    • 19 May 2015
  • New Arrivals!

     

    On 5 May, the great white egret was still here. (thanks to Phil Day for the photo!) but hasn’t been seen recently. On 6 May, a curlew sandpiper in full breeding plumage was with a small flock of dunlins. A yellow wagtail was seen from the VC on 8 May, and there was also a whimbrel and a common sandpiper. Swifts have arrived and can usually be seen over the Loch. A flock of 30 black-tailed godwits was on Starnafin…

    • 18 May 2015
  • Spring? What Spring?

    Looks like I spoke too soon regarding the weather – after some glorious sunshine, the winter returned with a vengeance and we had an unwelcome covering of snow, followed by some wet and windy outbreaks! What the returning migrants made of this, or if it has affected them in any way, we have yet to discover. Fortunately, it stayed reasonable for the last (eye-wateringly) early WeBS count of the season on 20 Apr, and we…

    • 5 May 2015
  • Spring Sunshine at Strathbeg

    Spring is really taking hold now on the reserve, and the summer migrants are starting to appear. The first chiffchaff has been heard near Fen Hide, the great-crested grebes have been displaying on the Loch, a little gull and a black-tailed godwit made an appearance on the Starnafin Pools, lesser black-backed gulls have returned, and the first marsh harrier of the year – a female – dropped by this weekend, hunting over…

    • 13 Apr 2015
  • Magnificent Meadows Update!

    It’s magnificent!

    Well... it is, really. We’re a year into the Save Our Magnificent Meadows project now, and the difference is showing. Our four-legged work party has made great in-roads into the dense soft rush (Juncus effusus) that was all over Mosstown Marsh, and has reduced both its density and height. We’ve found the most effective management so far is to cut the stuff first with the topper and then…

    • 16 Mar 2015
  • Another Early Morning...

    This weekend saw the monthly WeBS count, where we scatter to the corners of the reserve and attempt to count all the waders and wildfowl - it's an important national count, going on all over the country, and provides a lot of data on our wintering birds. It's very much reliant on decent weather and favorable astronomy - a brisk wind will see most of the ducks hiding in the reedbeds, and a bright moon will mean…

    • 11 Feb 2015
  • To Konik or not to Konik..... that is the question

    ..

    Since we got our first Koniks nearly four years ago there has been a lot of discussion around the native breed issue and why we are not using native horse/ponies. Before we made the decision to get Koniks we did an awful lot of research as to which would be the best breed for us.

    First and foremost we needed an animal that would cope with the very wet conditions that we ask them to put up with. The areas of marsh…

    • 30 Jan 2015
  • New Year News

    Welcome back, and a Happy New Year to all our readers!

    It’s been a while since we updated the blog, what with the festive season and folks heading off on holiday, but now we’re back it’s time to look back at last year, and forward to this one – and what a year it’s going to be!

    Male bearded tit – Brian Sandison

    Bird-wise, December brought us the traditional bittern sighting on…

    • 27 Jan 2015
  • In the Doric..."Fit’s fleein’ aboot faar in October?"

    Fit’s fleein’ aboot far in October?

    Pink-fitted geese, ye say?

    Foo mony?

    Forty thoosan’?

    Awa’!

    Far fae?

    Greenland?

    Michty!

     

    Fit else is fleein’ aboot in October?

    Dukes, ye say?

    Nae forty thoosan’ ‘n’ a’?

    Mair than a puckle tho’?

    Fit’s ‘at ene wi’ the pinty tail?

    A pintail?

    An ‘at boorach wi’ the shovel moos?

    Shovellers…

    • 3 Dec 2014
  • Reserve Round-up, 13 October.

    Whooper swan – Ben Hall (rspb-images.com)

    The autumn migration is in full swing as the birds continue to pour in to the Loch – 57 whooper swans on 3 October had increased to 292 seen during the WeBS count on the morning of Sunday 12 October, with 201 mute swans, 1046 wigeon, 444 teal, 72 goldeneye and 97 pochard also recorded. Three Slavonian grebes and one little grebe, three water rails, a smew and two…

    • 13 Oct 2014
  • One sandpiper, two egrets and geese by the thousands!

    Aberdeen and District RSPB Members Group paid their annual autumn visit to Strathbeg on Wednesday 25 Sep, and in their travels discovered a buff-breasted sandpiper by the lagoon – a nice find and one that resulted in some good pictures:

      

    Shown with dunlin for size comparison – all pictures by RSPB Members Group

    The weekend of 27/28 Sep saw a couple of little egrets back on the reserve, and an ever-increasing…

    • 1 Oct 2014
  • Latest Sightings to 23 September

    Easterly winds at the beginning of last week brought a fall of migrants to the reserve, starting with a yellow-browed warbler in the Plantation on 15 Sep, followed by another two on Tuesday, along with two red-breasted flycatchers and a barred warbler. There was a red-throated pipit and a pied flycatcher at Rattray (the garden at the B&B proving quite productive!); a pied flycatcher found its way onto the reserve…

    • 24 Sep 2014
  • Misty Monday Morning...

    ...and just a short update on what’s about.

    A red kite flew over the Visitor Centre last Monday (8 Sep) and a marsh harrier has been around all week. The first of the winter’s pinkfooted geese arrived; there are now about 72 of them, with more anticipated every day, although the majority won’t be here until the end of the month or the beginning of October. On Saturday 13th, there were 28 gadwall, 19…

    • 15 Sep 2014
  • This Week's Highlights

    What a fun-packed week we've had!

    We started on Monday with interviews for our Species and Habitats Warden post - and we are pleased to say we have a new member of staff! Watch this space for more details.

    On Tuesday, we had the annual visit by the vet, to check out the Koniks, microchip the new foals and oversee the fitting of GPS tracking collars on three of the ponies; fortunately, they were very relaxed about…

    • 5 Sep 2014