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. Our Education Staff have been busy with several local schools involved in the SOMM programme, looking at bugs and beasties and the flowers of the meadows.

Ragged robin (rspb-images.com)

Our Tuesday evening ‘Pick Out a Puffin’ Walks at Fowlsheugh have proved popular, and have been fortunately blessed with some good weather – there are still a couple planned on 16 and 23 June, and we may be able to run some more after that, so watch the website and Facebook/Twitter for news. The wardens have been working hard on the seabird colony counts at Troup and Fowlsheugh; it’s looking hopeful this year, with lots of guillemot, kittiwake and gannet chicks on the ledges. On Starnafin Island, black-headed gull and common tern chicks are now hatching, and the parent birds are extremely protective, and very loud! Recently we’ve seen Arctic tern, American wigeon (elusive), 2 little egrets, up to five little gulls, at least one female marsh harrier, a drake garganey (also elusive), a great white egret on 7 June, and several broods of shelducks and mute swan cygnets.

Guillemots - Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

Looking forward, we’re holding our first ‘Meadows Walk’ this Thursday, 18 June, where you can get out on the reserve with a warden to see what’s coming up and what the ponies are achieving in the way of rush control – booking essential, as are wellies! In the SOMM project area, our University students’ projects will be starting soon. We’re planning for our National Meadows Day Event on 4 July, lots of things to do and see so make a note in your diaries and come along! If you’ve been inspired by BBC Springwatch to get your own trail camera, the North East Scotland Biological records Centre (NESBReC) are running a camera-trapping workshop at Strathbeg Visitor Centre on 10.30 am – 3.00 pm on Sunday 12 July – to book a place contact glenn.roberts@aberdeenshire.gov.uk (please note, children must be accompanied by an adult, and on this occasion, no dogs, thanks).

Our summer trail to the Loch hides is still open, but we’d like to point out that although well-behaved dogs are normally welcome on the reserve, the path crosses our neighbour’s land and they have asked that no dogs are permitted on that part of the trail. You can still drive round to the airfield car park and walk from there.

Common toad - Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)

Have you seen the new Give Nature a Home advert yet? Want to get involved? To get your FREE ’20 ways to give nature a home’ pack, complete with 32 page booklet, poster and sticker, order a copy online at rspb.org.uk/homes or pick up a leaflet from the Visitor Centre.