The WeBS count on the 13th November saw our pink-footed geese number come to more than 12,000. Since then, the numbers have dropped off sharply, repeating the early peaks in numbers that we’ve had for the last couple of years. On the other hand, we’ve had a huge number of whooper swans fly in, totalling 1032 on the 13th. That is the second highest number in the reserve’s history, with 1188 being the highest recorded in 2010.

Whooper swans enjoying the loch. Photo by Brian Sandison.

Many other species were recorded in the WeBS count including: 2500 wigeon, 750 golden plover, 522 lapwing, 303 mallard, 204 curlew, 167 greylag geese, 151 mute swans, 146 teal, 129 goldeneye, 113 tufted duck, 82 coot, 40 dunlin, 39 cormorant, 20 pintail, 16 shoveller, 12 pochard, 6 barnacle geese, 5 red-breasted merganser, our first 3 snow geese, 2 grey heron, 2 water rail, 2 woodcock, 2 redshank, 1 long-tailed duck, 1 black-tailed godwit and 1 American wigeon. Other additions to the year list include a kingfisher by the tower on the low ground, a waxwing in the car park and an adorable pair of bank voles that made a fallen coconut feeder their little ‘love boat’!

Pair of bank voles feed and shelter in a fallen coconut feeder. ‘Love boat’ by Alex Jamieson.

On the 28th October, we had a wonderful celebration event to mark the official opening of our newly refurbished visitor centre. It was also a chance for us to say a massive thank you to everyone who has contributed, either with funding or their time, to help make the Loch of Strathbeg such a wonderful home for nature. Particular thanks to the Coastal Communities Fund for helping us transform the volunteer accommodation and double its capacity, and to the Friends of Strathbeg and the Local Members Group for donating funds towards the renovations, including the new bird feeder viewing window. Elyn Zhang, Bill Craigie and Mark Sullivan were there from their respective organisations to cut the ribbon, along with our two interns, Imogen Rutter and Morwenna Egan, and then a great celebration was had by all!

 Happy faces all round! Photo by Kirsty Nutt

Last week we said goodbye to Amelie Sumpter, our fantastic Assistant Warden. She has been in charge of much of the fencing over the past months and we (and the ponies!) are extremely grateful for her hard work. We will all miss her bubbling enthusiasm in the office and even while fencing, but wish her all the good luck in her new job at RSPB Abernethy as their permanent Assistant Warden – her dream job!

As some people leave, some also arrive! We recently welcomed our two new residential volunteers, Savvas Grigoriadis and Katie Bell, to the team. They are settling nicely into the new volunteer accommodation and getting stuck into the remaining fencing and other winter jobs.    

Morwenna Egan

Reserves Intern