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 on Starnafin Pools. Numbers of waders continue to build, with dunlin, black-tailed godwits, ruff, at least 17 greenshank, snipe, and an unexpected turnstone all seen from the Visitor Centre. With a number of rarities showing up along the coast, it might be a good time to check out Rattray and the Plantation for migrants!

Black stork and Koniks, Michele Emslie

The common terns remain unimpressed by the visitor, however.

Tern & stork, Michele Emslie

Down in the Meadow: The ‘Magnificent Meadows’ guided walk on 29 July was very well attended, and enjoyed by all those who came along. For once the weather was kind, and as usual, the Koniks stole the show! We’ve had the Softrak machinery on site for a couple of weeks topping the rushes in selected parts of the project area, and the operator reported that, this year, the places where the ponies have been at work were much easier going, both with a reduction in rushes and through packing-down of the sphagnum mosses by a large number of pony hooves! Two new additions to the herd arrived on 13 August, a couple of 14-month old colts from the National Trust Wicken Fen reserve; we hope these lads will become a key part of our ongoing breeding programme in the next year or so, when they’ve grown up a bit. Conditions on Vet day were appalling, with an all-day downpour; nevertheless, our team and the vet managed to round up all three herds, put them through the corral and race for their annual checks, inoculate 22 ponies against tetanus and microchip our two new foals in an hour and a half, which is pretty impressive! Almost as impressive was the amount of water our Reserves Manager wrung out of his sweater when he got back to the office...

Comings and goings: We said farewell to our Habitats and Species Warden, Derren Fox, who leaves us to spend a year on Gough Island in the South Atlantic, studying seabirds – this is possibly one of the most remote places on the planet! Long-term local volunteer Roger Vernon also left us, as he and his family are moving south – we wish him all the best, and congratulate whichever reserve he volunteers at next on their gain!

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