• 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’?


    Far fae?




    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?


    • 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
  • August - Almost Autumn Already!

    The end of July saw a number of  waders passing through the reserve, with green sandpiper, pectoral sandpiper and curlew sandpiper, and an elusive lesser yellowlegs seen in the lagoon on 29 July.  Reasonable numbers of dunlin and golden plover were also seen on the seaward side of the reserve.  A little stint appeared on 13 August,  and since then numbers of waders have been steadily growing - a sure sign that autumn is on…

    • 26 Aug 2014
  • Recent sightings

    Good news and bad news with regards the Terns: After a rather long time of tern nest failures on Starnafin Island, we are still (finally!) seeing a wonderful result of successful breeding!! A total number is rather hard to come to as the vegetation has grown up so much that a lot of them are hiding in it, but at last rough estimate, there are at least 120 chicks there. So all the hard work by the wardening team last winter…

    • 28 Jul 2014
  • Fire in the dunes at Loch of Strathbeg

    Around lunchtime yesterday we were alerted to a fire on the dunes at the northern end of our Loch of Strathbeg reserve, near St Combs. It was in an area of grass on the sand dunes and was moving fast. By late-afternoon, the Fire and Rescue Service...
    • 29 Jun 2014
  • Latest Sightings

    On 7th June on the visitor centre pools, there were 2 spoonbills and 3 Canada geese.

    An exciting event last weekend was the birth of another foal! We weren’t sure of the sex, and a couple of days later another was born. A wee trip out to the Lowground proved the suspicion that the first had been a colt, and was therefore named Bilbo Baggins, and the second born was a filly, so she was called Brèagha. Brèagha is pronounced…

    • 16 Jun 2014
  • Spoonbills Galore! A round-up for 15-27 May 2014.

    The spoonbill that I mentioned in my last blog entry was joined by another on 17th, a third dropped in on 20th and by Wednesday 21st we had a grand total of four! The latecomer only stayed for a day, however, but the others stayed on, and two are still around the reserve, although they can be a little elusive, feeding on the pools of the Low Ground as well as at Starnafin.

    Our star bird is probably the American wige…

    • 28 May 2014
  • Reserves Round-up and latest sightings – 6-14 May

    The recent spot of fine weather has seen the wardening team out and about on the reserve, getting to all the things that need doing in the boggiest places, so it falls to this office-bound administrator to write the latest update!

    Tuesday 6th saw a ring ousel on the dry grass fields near the Back Bar, and swifts screaming over the Plantation, a dunlin and a couple of black-tailed godwits. The waders were joined by another…

    • 15 May 2014
  • Loch of Strathbeg: latest sightings 28th April to 5th May

    Kicking on with highlights on Starnafin Pools in front of our visitor centre, waders have started to trickle in and we have had several "reserve year ticks".   Two male ruff were seen on the 28th April moulting into their summer plumage.  One was very dark and the other was predominantly white.   The white individual is still here, last seen this afternoon.     A little ringed plover was first seen on the 4th May and again…

    • 6 May 2014
  • Latest Sightings - 21/4/14 to 27/4/14

    Highlights from the past week 21/4/14 to 27/4/14

    The Little Egret has been around all week.

    Monday 21st

    2 Stonechat and 2 Wheatear on the airfield

    Tuesday 22nd

    We did a WeBS count on Tuesday morning, highlights from the count:

    1200 Pink-footed geese

    13 Gadwall

    3 Whooper swan

    4 Pintail

    27 Shelduck

    4 Water rail

    124 Teal

    1 Little grebe

    2 Scaup

    Osprey and a Peregrine over the low ground

    And a Ring Ouzel in…

    • 27 Apr 2014
  • Latest Sightings April 13th - 22nd

    This week, although there have still been some geese, (a couple of flocks of 300 or so flew over me on the reserve on the 18th) I got the feeling that most of them have headed off. This was confirmed this morning when we did a goose count, along with our WeBS count, which revealed that only about 1200 are still around.

    Last Sunday we still had the two little egrets hanging around, and have been spotted on and off throughout…

    • 22 Apr 2014
  • Loch of Strathbeg latest sightings 29th March to 12th April

    It's been a couple of weeks since our last update and there is a fair bit to report.

    Starting with a dawn goose count on 1st April..a very respectable 19,100 pink footed geese were recorded and the feeling is this was a probably an undercount. (several massive lifts causing panic amongst the counters!)   As of today’s date there are still good numbers of pink footed geese roosting on the reserve.   A visiting photographer…

    • 13 Apr 2014
  • Latest sightings 17-26 March

    Report by Matthew Smith & Christine Hall.

    Visit to the hides on Monday 17th  for the weekly clean included sightings of Great Crested Grebe (2), Red Breasted Merganser (4), Goosander (2), Bean Goose, Scaup (2) Hooded Crow, Whitefronted Goose and a surprised Ermine on the broadwalk to Fen Hide.

    5.30am start on Tues 18th for early morning goose count got 21, 700 pink footed geese currently roosting on the reserve.…

    • 27 Mar 2014
  • Loch of Strathbeg: Latest sightings 3rd to 16th march


    It’s been a while since our last round up, we have been busy with a couple of projects on the reserve that got held up by the wet and windy winter.

    Continuing on from the last update, Bearded tits are still being seen, literally all over the reserve.   They are a regular feature of a visit to Fen hide.   One of our visitors tells me they are often to the left of the hide.   On the 9th March at least one bird was in…

    • 16 Mar 2014
  • Latest Sightings: Loch of Strathbeg 18th Feb to 2nd March 2014

    Well, the first thing to say is that it really is beginning to feel like spring.   There are lots of signs that wildlife is beginning to feel the same, with skylarks singing, a few half hearted displays from lapwing over the low ground and goldeneye doing their crazy head flicking thing.   Of course, who will ever forget our bushnell camera footage of a couple of badgers feeling “spring like”. The weather too has hopefully…

    • 3 Mar 2014
  • Strathbeg latest sightings 11th to 16th February: by Matthew Smith

     Over half way through February and the reserve year list is up to 99 and ticking along nicely and Snowdrops are out in force. The highlight was a drake Ring-necked duck, which was first found on the silt trap to the left of Tower Pool hide on the 10th but is still showing well as I write.   Pink-footed geese numbers roosting on the reserve is currently at 11,494 along with up to 5 European White-fronted geese and a single…

    • 18 Feb 2014
  • Reserve Round-up 1-11 February

    The end of January brought us a smew and a Slavonian grebe on the loch, and a little gull and 50 sanderling down on the beach, where the recent weather has certainly made some changes to the landscape. The smew and grebe lingered over the weekend, with a long-tailed duck and a couple of scaup also dropping in. The first great crested grebe of the year was seen on Monday 3rd, and a water rail was calling near Tower Pool…

    • 11 Feb 2014
  • Latest sightings 22 to 30 Jan 2014 - rain and more rain...

    If there's one thing we're not short of at the  moment, it's rain!  The reserve is almost as wet as I've ever seen it - much to the delight of the wildfowl and waders, if not the poor wardening staff and volunteers who are still digging trenches for our new otter fence. Current fashion is not so much RSPB blue as a nice shade of mud!

    All the water has drawn in good numbers of ducks, with three scaup (2…

    • 30 Jan 2014
  • Loch of Strathbeg Latest sightings 14th to 21st January 2014

     21 days into 2014 and we have already had some memorable wildlife moments. This round up begins with a summary of the monthly wetland bird survey (WeBs) undertaken over the weekend just gone. The most important news is once again Strathbeg comes up trumps with a wintering bittern, seen by the site manager Richard from Fen Hide on the 18th.  Pink footed geese currently roosting on the reserve total 16,180. Plus at least…

    • 21 Jan 2014