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, 101 goldeneye, 70 gadwall, 8 pintail, 3 white-fronted geese and 1 American wigeon as of the WeBS count on 16 October. This week has also seen a large influx of whooper swans – a count of 127 at our last wetland bird survey on 16 October, but increasing by the day. Other additions to our year list include a yellow-browed warbler in the plantation, Lapland bunting on the edge of the sand dunes and a pectoral sandpiper on Starnafin pools.

In reserve management news, three of our team have been away on a chainsaw course, so this has been put to good use in the plantation, felling and processing lodgepole pines. After the excitement of our breeding little gulls and a successful year for our common terns, our otter-proof tern island has had a facelift of weeding and strimming, ready for next year’s breeding season. We have been monitoring dominance of different vegetation types on Mosstown to study the impact of our Konik ponies and Softrak on the vegetation height and Juncus dominance. We have also attached refurbished GPS collars to our Mosstown ponies to monitor their grazing movements.

Fencing has been full steam ahead, thanks to some help with fence post driving; we now have around 2200m complete of our 3000m target, which will allow the ponies to graze new areas. Thanks to this work, we also have three new ‘stuck truck’ incidents to add to the tally – courtesy of Ed, Morwenna and Amelie (how many times is that now, Ed???).

Further excitement was caused when three local sheep escaped onto the visitor centre car park last weekend! The situation got a bit a woolly but no further ram-ifications are expected.

The 28th October also saw the official grand opening of the new visitor centre – more details and photos on that to come.

Imogen Rutter
Reserves Intern