NATURE RESERVE STORY

It’s coming up to that time of the year again – Christmas – and the reserve is looking beautiful as it transitions into its winter wears. There’s a lot to see at this time of year and especially impressive are the wonderful colourful mushrooms erupting through the sandy soils of the dunes.
The strange weather we had recently – jumping from a very nice hot summer (for once!) to the cool autumn and back again in a short space of time- is still being felt by some of the species on the reserve with plants, such as the gorse and broom (especially in the cattle field) still in bloom. It’s great experiencing a weird and wonderful mixture of seasons all in the same day!
Although winter is now almost in full swing, with the number of frosty mornings increasing.

2013 really has been a busy year down on the reserve, with 12 events being held during the past few months! Everything from magical stargazing back in February, the annual family fun day (with the great unveiling of the stone carved with the winning poem entry from last year’s poetry competition), moth nights, fungal forays to the more unusual musical themed events – including a dance workshop in June  and two live music  events in July (a musical tour with

Aidan O’Rourke and the Feis Rois National Ceilidh group).Running all these events would not have been possible without the help of all our regular helpers!

And of course, the sunny summer we had in 2013 certainly made  a difference – what a contrast to the previous few summers Scotland has seen.

It’s still a great time to get to the hide with our resident kingfisher easier to see now the vegetation has died back. Wintering teal and widgeon are all showing well too and worth a close look. Teal are our smallest duck and so beautiful when viewed through binoculars or a telescope – look out for the detail on the plumage and the lemon yellow feathers in the tail of the male bird and his lovely green and chestnut brown head! Many of these little ducks are continental birds from Siberia and around the Baltic and a large percentage of the European population overwinters here in the UK. If you have some spare time pop down and cosy away from the elements, with the sound of pink footed geese, teal and black headed gulls all around you. Don’t forget to record your sightings or drop in to the office and let us know what you have seen.

kingfisherOther wildlife highlights include; watching gull (common, black-headed, herring and great black-backed gulls) numbers increase – sometimes well over 500 gulls at any one time – as they use the river mouth as a roosting spot. Seeing migrating pink-footed geese fly over the reserve in huge numbers, getting the occasional whooper swan group fly over the reserve, having a few rarer migrating birds spotted on the reserve thanks to windy storms e.g.Great Grey Shrike and Yellow Browed Warbler,records of Sea Eagle and Little Egret using the reserve
in September and finding a regular group of some 15 pale bellied Brent Geese at the hides for a few weeks during September and October.