• 5 months at Strathbeg

    Naomi High spent the winter as a residential volunteer at Loch of Strathbeg with us and she reflected on her time spent here in the blog below:

    I have spent the past 5 months volunteering and living at Strathbeg and have gotten stuck into all aspects of reserve life (sometimes literally!)

    I arrived mid October being greeted by the site manager and taken to my new home for the next few months. I was in awe of the beauty…

    • 13 Mar 2022
  • recent sightings 14/10/2021 - 03/11/2021

    Here are some sightings from the Loch of Strathbeg reserve from the last night three weeks. Dates shown are the most recent recorded for each species:

    - Marsh harrier (03/11/2021)

    - Little egret (03/11/2021) - 4 birds

    - Snow bunting (03/11/2021) - 1 bird seen in front of the VC in the morning.

    - Bittern (27/10/2021) - 1 bird seen flying over tower pool hide

    - Ruff (27/10/2021) 

    - Glossy ibis (27/10/2021)

    - Woodcock (25…

    • 3 Nov 2021
  • Recent sightings: 30/09/2021 - 13/10/2021

    Here are some sightings from the Loch of Strathbeg reserve from the last fortnight. Dates shown are the most recent recorded for each species:

    - Greater yellowlegs (13/10/2021): seen daily since 28/09/2021

    - Lesser yellowlegs (13/10/2021): seen daily  since 30/09/2021

    - Little Egret (13/10/2021): 4 birds seen daily 

    - Red-crested pochard (10/10/2021) 

    - Pink-footed geese (10/10/2021)- 1530 birds across whole reserve 

    - Whooper…

    • 13 Oct 2021
  • Recent Sightings: 16/09/2021 - 29/09/2021

    Here are some sightings from the Loch of Strathbeg reserve from the last fortnight. Dates shown are the most recent recorded for each species:

    Greater yellowlegs. Photo by Kat Suchecka

    - Greater yellowlegs (29/09/2021)  - Arrived on 28/09/2021 and still present on Starnafin pools at time this blog was posted (16:30). 

    - Grey plover (29/09/2021) 

    - Little Egret (29/09/2021) - two birds seen daily over past week.

    - Common…

    • 29 Sep 2021
  • Recent Sightings: 02/09/2021 - 15/09/2021

    Here are some sightings from the Loch of Strathbeg reserve from the last fortnight. Dates shown are the most recent recorded for each species:

    - Marsh harrier (15/09/2021) - birds seen regularly on reserve

    - lapwing (15/09/2021) - flock of up to 400 birds

    - Pink-footed geese (14/09/2021) - 13 birds, first few back 

    - Common crane (14/09/2021) - 3 birds (one adult + 2 juveniles) 

    - Ringed plover (13/09/2021) - 8 birds on…

    • 15 Sep 2021
  • Recent sightings: 18/08/2021 - 01/09-2021

    Here are some sightings from the Loch of Strathbeg reserve from the last fortnight. Dates shown are the most recent recorded for each species:

    - Common crane (01/09/2021) - 4 birds seen regularly since 29/08/2021

    - Marsh harrier (01/09/2021) - Male, female and juvenile birds seen across the two week period

    - Peregrine (01/09/2021)

    - Spotted redshank (01/09/2021) - 2 adults, juvenile seen on 27/08/2021

    - Greenshank …

    • 1 Sep 2021
  • Summer Beach Cleans

    In 2020 we had a number of beach cleans planned but with the pandemic we had to postpone them until this summer. So various members of the team completed two cleans at Rattray Head, just south of Loch of Strathbeg and one at St Combs, both on and off reserve. They weren’t the busiest of beach cleans we’ve done but it was good to get out and help keep our local beaches clean.

    On the 26th June Kat and Ed were…

    • 29 Jul 2021
  • Strathbeg’s Windpump Tower

    During Autumn 2020 there was some building conservation at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg alongside the wildlife conservation. Jill Harden, the RSPB’s Archaeologist in Scotland explains:


    1 The tower from the visitor centre before works began


    Since 2014 the RSPB has been exploring ways to save the 230 year-old windpump tower at Loch of Strathbeg. And now it’s done!  And it’s all been made possible by a 40% grant from…

    • 27 Jan 2021
  • Catching Up

    I think to say that a lot has changed over the past year is an understatement!

    How we carry out our work on reserve has changed and current restrictions have led to the closure of our hides and the visitor centre. Our trails and toilets are still open and viewing of the low ground is available in front of Tower pool Hide. It's all very strange

    But there are some changes to the reserve that pre-date the current situation…

    • 21 Aug 2020
  • A Strange Spring

    Like for everyone else, life on our reserves changed very suddenly earlier this year. We started working from home, the reserves team taking in turns to do the daily checks on the ponies at Loch of Strathbeg and making health and safety visits to the different reserves we look after.

    Being folk who normally have an extremely varied workload, and although we do have office work, we are lucky enough to be able to mix that…

    • 6 Aug 2020
  • Track to Starnafin Visitor Centre now open

    Work on the track has finished (for now) and access to the VC is open again.

    The work has much improved the track, but can we ask that visitors keep their speeds down (10 mph max) for safety of other visitors, wildlife and the longevity of the surface!

    • 3 Mar 2020
  • Further Update re Access & Track

    We've been told work starts on Monday 24 February, and there will also be some preparatory work happening this Friday, 21st - please be aware that large machinery may be involved and take care if you are visiting. From Monday until further notice the track to Starnafin will be CLOSED to all vehicles and all pedestrians (except staff).

    A cautionary word about the repairs - don't get too excited! We're going to have…

    • 19 Feb 2020
  • UPDATE - Temporary Closure of Access Track from 24 Feb 2020


    Anyone visiting Strathbeg will have noticed the ongoing battle we have with our access track to the Visitor Centre. However, after years of unrelenting pothole wars, we are finally getting an upgrade! CHANGE TO DATE - Starting from 24 February, work will take place to repair and resurface the track - this will take around three days and is weather dependent, so we can't predict when it will start. What…

    • 30 Jan 2020
  • St Combs Beach Clean 19.01.2020

    On Saturday the 18th of January, 8 members of the public and 3 RSPB staff and volunteers came together headed out onto St Combs Bay to clean the beach. We were blessed with the weather so in the bright sunlight, with the surf beating and the oystercatchers bleating, we set to work.

    It wasn’t long before our binbags started to fill up and numerous piles of collected rubbish started to grow. It seemed that 90% or more…

    • 25 Jan 2020
  • Recent and not-so-recent sightings: 28 Nov 19

    The trouble with working on a reserve the size of Strathbeg is you don’t get to see all of it very often, there is a lot to do that doesn’t involve binoculars, and rarities can slip through without us noticing unless someone who’s actually here to do some birdwatching lets us know! Add to that several lightning strikes which have disconnected us from the internet for a total of about two months and you end up with perhaps…

    • 28 Nov 2019
  • Some changes at Strathbeg…..

    If you visit the reserve in the next few weeks, you’ll see that there is something afoot in front of the Visitor Centre at Loch of Strathbeg.

    Starnafin Pools, Lorna Dow

    This view will be changing, just slightly. As many folk will know, the predator fence that was put up to protect the nesting terns and gulls on the islands was extremely successful. We went from approximately 20 pairs of common terns before fence…

    • 28 Nov 2019
  • Water Vole Surveys

    During my internship at Loch of Strathbeg I got the chance to take part in water vole surveys here and at Loch Spynie.

    Water voles are widespread but have suffered declines due to habitat changes and predation by American mink.  Carrying out surveys is important to firstly find out whether water vole are present on the reserve but also to provide a picture of how the habitat is being used. This is carried out yearly on…

    • 7 Nov 2019
  • My season as a Reserves Intern on the RSPB North East Scotland Coastal Reserves - Julie Ellis

    Interns Katie (L) and Julie (R), Lorna Dow

    From March to September 2019, I have been one of the Reserves Interns on the RSPB North East Scottish Coastal Reserves, based at Loch of Strathbeg. I chose to immerse myself in this voluntary internship as a stepping stone to returning to work in Scottish nature conservation after spending far too long in a city office-based job.

    I can’t believe how quickly the season has flown…

    • 5 Oct 2019
  • New Interns 2019!

    We’ve been a bit quiet of late on the blog as we’ve been super busy out and about on the reserves. It’s now time to catch up!  

    A big event for us on the reserves early in the year, was a change on personnel. The end of February saw us say goodbye to the interns of 2018/19, Kim Grant and Sally Dunbar. Our interns very much become part of the team and it’s always sad to see them go. Hopefully, it’s on…

    • 24 Jun 2019
  • Recent Sightings 28/11/2018

    It has been the year of the whooper swan here at Loch of Strathbeg with our record count of 1599 in October.

    Our latest count of pink-footed geese is 6979 which is fairly modest in comparison to past years, however the majority of the birds are using the low ground area of the reserve which means there are still some spectacular lifts to be seen! As well as pink-feet there have also been a few greylag and barnacle geese…

    • 28 Nov 2018
  • Autumn

    If you have visited Strathbeg over the last few weeks you’ll have noticed the leaves turn from a golden hue and fall from the trees, and the thousands of pink-footed geese and whooper swans make their arrival.

    As the bright colours of summer fade away there are certain things you can do in your garden to ensure you are giving nature a home as winter draws in.

    While bird tables and feeders are used by our feathered…

    • 19 Nov 2018
  • Photography workshop

    Some of my fondest memories of Strathbeg have come from the evenings here. The way the light casts over the water and the several bird species that come to roost. These combined fills the air with wonder and excitement, not to mention the sounds that echo around the reserve as twilight hits. Due to this, I couldn’t resist hosting a photography workshop around sunset to showcase nature at its best. In conjunction with…

    • 15 Oct 2018
  • Magnificent Moths!

    When most people think of moths they think of drab, brown wee things that live in clouds of dust and eat holes in your carpet. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and I’m here to change your mind in one short blog post!

    Moths are often overlooked in a budding naturalist’s quest for beauty in favour of their relative butterflies. Contrarily, many moths are as brightly coloured and patterned as butterflies…

    • 29 Aug 2018
  • The Re-Tern of the Terns

    A big project we have been working on recently is the re installation of the tern platform at Loch Spynie, near Elgin. This proved to be a good challenge for the team - battling bad weather, problem solving and deadlines along the way.


     The old platform, Kim Grant

    Back in February, we began the destruction of the platform. Rowing out to the middle of the loch armed with equipment on a small boat, required a lot of…

    • 15 May 2018
  • Recent Sightings - 04/05/18

    It is definitely feeling a lot more like spring at the reserve. Common terns are starting to come back now and can be seen swooping around the island, sedge warblers are singing and small tortoiseshell and green-veined white butterflies are on the wing.

    There has been plenty to see over the past few weeks here at Strathbeg. We have had three spoonbill on reserve over the past few days and a green winged teal showing…

    • 4 May 2018