Looks like I spoke too soon regarding the weather – after some glorious sunshine, the winter returned with a vengeance and we had an unwelcome covering of snow, followed by some wet and windy outbreaks! What the returning migrants made of this, or if it has affected them in any way, we have yet to discover. Fortunately, it stayed reasonable for the last (eye-wateringly) early WeBS count of the season on 20 Apr, and we were treated to the sight of two common cranes leaving the reserve at 5.15 am! Goose numbers were down to around 1650, and have since declined to a few hundred; there were a couple of white-fronted geese in with the pinkfeet. It was nice to see lapwings displaying over several parts of the reserve, and 46 curlews feeding on Mosstown – we can only keep our fingers crossed for successful breeding this year. A pair of garganey were spotted on 19 April on Starnafin Pools, the common terns are back on the island in front of the Visitor Centre, and bearded tits have been seen around the Tower. Warblers are arriving every day – chiffchaffs, willow warblers, blackcaps, whitethroats, sedge warblers, and grasshopper warblers, all loudly setting up territory. A Slavonian grebe was also seen on the Loch on 28 April, and three or four little gulls are hanging about on Starnafin Pools.

Bigger birds are also around, with a cracking marsh harrier over the reedbeds.

Marsh harrier – Brian Sandison

There is evidently enough food around to support these birds; we have ospreys regularly seen fishing over the Savoch silt trap and the Loch – and not for small fish, as the photo below shows! Other visitors report quite a sizeable pike in the pond in front of the Centre, so watch out for that if you happen to be visiting!

 

Osprey with pike – Brian Sandison

Our long-staying little egrets seem to have disappeared after the WeBS count, but on Monday 4 May, a great white egret arrived. Best seen from Fen Hide, but visible at the top end of the Loch from the VC, it is quite an impressive bird. New photos would be appreciated!

 

Great white egret (photo from 2009, photographer unknown – please let us know if it was you!)

There is still time to sign up for the first of our Fowlsheugh ‘Pick out a Puffin’ walks on the evening of 12 May – details are on our events page. If you are visiting Fowlsheugh, please note that there is limited parking; please don’t park in the passing places as this creates significant problems to the people living nearby.

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