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 scaup were also spotted on the loch. The pinkfooted goose count was down from the previous one, with only 34,213 recorded. This is not surprising, as it was a bright moonlit night prior to the count and the geese tend to stay out in the fields beyond the reserve, feeding in relative safety as they can see any potential predators. Count figures are always lower after clear, bright nights! A smattering of other goose species were also found – two snow geese, one Greenland white-fronted goose, three greylags and around 20 barnacle geese.
Dawn and dusk remain the best times to see the geese leaving and returning to the roost, and the carpark at Rattray Kirk is still a good place to see the big numbers; we’ll be starting our Dawn GooseWatch events on 2 November (see our webpage for more details) so why not book your place now!
Geese coming in to roost – Diana Spencer
Other species seen around include a gorgeous (ringtail) hen harrier, up to 10 bearded tits in the reedbeds around Fen Hide, and at least two little egrets around the Starnafin pools and Low Ground, best seen from either Tower Pool Hide or the Visitor Centre. Our Konik ponies continue to attract media attention and were featured in this report from Plantlife http://www.plantlife.org.uk/about_us/blog/ponies and on the BBC on Sunday 12 October – if you missed it, the clip can bee seen here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-29442896 (Flash player required).
Hen harrier – Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)
This weekend saw our Christmas Crafts and Goose Fair, which attracted a good number of visitors. For the rest of the month, in the Visitor Centre, we will have an exhibition of wildlife photography (mostly pictures taken around the reserve or in the local area) by Peter Lewis and Brian Sandison which will be well worth a visit – entry is free!
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