What a fun-packed week we've had!

We started on Monday with interviews for our Species and Habitats Warden post - and we are pleased to say we have a new member of staff! Watch this space for more details.

On Tuesday, we had the annual visit by the vet, to check out the Koniks, microchip the new foals and oversee the fitting of GPS tracking collars on three of the ponies; fortunately, they were very relaxed about the procedure and no intervention was needed. These collars will enable us to track where they are, as part of the fen meadow restoration, and we're already getting some interesting data on where they seem to prefer grazing. Two collars are still in place - we tried fitting one on Kieran, but he managed to get it off himself in a couple of hours, so we'll refit it on another, less devious and wriggly, individual! On the birding front, there were 284 lapwing on Starnafin pools, and an osprey fishing over the loch.

On Wednesday, Starnafin island got weeded and the tern boxes were collected in, to be cleaned up ready for next year. The tern decoys are awaiting recovery (in more ways than one - some are looking a bit battered) and some TLC over the winter. In the evening, while we were preparing a farewell dinner for our departing residential volunteer Charlie, Ed spotted a peregrine chasing a ruff.

On Thursday, a short-eared owl flew up from Mosstown Marsh while the ponies were being checked. (We need to do this daily, especially at the moment to make sure there are no issues with the collars)

It's that time of year - things are popping up all over!

This morning saw our residential volunteers off on a Scottish Countryside Rangers Association training day, looking at the ecology and identification of fungi at NTS Crathes; SCRA run quite a number of outdoor training courses, which are good value and very interesting - they are open to everyone, and SCRA members and volunteers get a discount. (The latest list is here.)  This left the staff to do the monthly Wetland Bird Survey, and there's nothing better on a damp and drizzly Friday morning than to spend it counting wildfowl and waders all over the reserve. Highlights of today's survey, in no particular order - 218 mute swans on the loch (and one whooper that has been here all summer), 223 tufted duck, 149 coot, 50 dunlin and 47 ringed plover in the lagoon, 2 little grebes, 13 redshank and 7 greenshank, 9 snipe, 25 pochard, 245 mallard, 81 goldeneye, 2 red-breasted mergansers and over 250 lapwings, mostly in one flock over Netherton. A quick look through the plantation found a couple of goldcrests, there were 2 wheatears on Back Bar, a very dashing sparrowhawk along the edge of the plantation and a female marsh harrier over the dunes.

We're still waiting for the geese to return - there's a real feeling of anticipation in the air as the darker evenings draw in...

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