Following on from our Facebook post about the Loch of Strathbeg year list, I thought I’d update on where we are so far into January with the count.

Bird listing isn’t for everyone but we keep the reserve list as up to date as we can, for our own benefit and for visitors who are interested in the number of different species that can be seen at the reserve. Some species are very much seasonal, many of our duck and geese visitors are gone by spring. Our location on the north east tip of Scotland, invites stop overs from migrants in the spring and autumn and our spring/summer breeders return. Combined with the range of habitats means the reserve provides a home (however short a stop it might be) for a huge range of species.

Our year list is a team effort, which very much includes all visitors and regular bird watchers that visit the reserve. We always appreciate when people fill in the log sheets with what they’ve seen. Yes, we get quite excited when something unusual visits the reserve but it is also very useful when people record the more mundane – we like to know that the more common species are doing well too. It's also not just birds - records of all species are extremely useful for the reserve.

Working on the first few days of the year means having the excuse to head out birdwatching (like we need an excuse) to get the list started.

One of the many perks of working on a nature reserve is regularly getting to visit parts of the reserve that members of the public don’t normally get to visit. On 2 January, as no visitors had arrived yet I took the opportunity to head out over the wetlands to complete the daily pony checks. Taking this route out across the reserve had the added advantage of potentially increasing the chances of me increasing the year list.

Starnafin Pools, Lorna Dow

It was a lovely cold crisp morning and my route took me past the old wind pump.

Savoch burn, Lorna Dow

Strathbeg wind pump, Lorna Dow

Frost, Lorna Dow

Reflections, Lorna Dow

An otter was fishing in one of the big ditches that run through the reserve. It was very chilled out and my photo shows it swimming away after getting fed up of me flapping around trying to get my phone out. You might need to squint to see it but I was chuffed with the lovely start to the new year.

Otter, Lorna Dow

So with a few of days of quiet birding around the rest of the days tasks, the 2018 list sits at 68 hopefully increasing over the next few days. 2017s total was 187.

Happy New Year to everyone!