I had the opportunity yesterday to venture off up to Corrie Fee NNR (a truly spectacular place) to assist Craig Wilson leading the annual Clash of the Titans guided walk. Craig is contracted by SNH to control Red Deer numbers around Corrie Fee, in order to minimise grazing on rare and endangered plants. October is a fantastic place to head out into the hills as you may be lucky enough to hear the sound of a roaring stag as he bellows his strength and dominance across the glen.
20 people booked on to join Craig and I, and we set off up Glen Doll toward the start of Jock’s Road. As we walked, we used particular vantage points to scan the hills, and were delighted to catch site of Red Deer stags scattered across the south facing wall. As we approached, the distinctive roar could be heard, even down on the path! The search continued, and we were delighted to find a ‘harem’ of hinds being defended by a Royal stag (12 pointer). The points on their antlers reflect good diet which suggests access to better grazing for more dominant individuals.
The group had a fantastic time, and it was a rare opportunity for them to join a professional deer stalker to learn more about the lives of Red Deer and to understand more about deer management in Scotland. Young Ruby using a telescope was an excellent achievement, and a Spanish girl in attendance managed to get a fabulous digi-scoped photo using her mobile phone of two stags fighting! If I see the photo again I’ll be sure to share it with you.
The following morning it was back to my usual patch, where we were participating in the first nationwide Icelandic-breeding Goose Census of the year, as co-ordinated by Wildfowl and Wetland Trust. Every year thousands of Greylag, Barnacle and Pink-footed Geese return to Britain having bred in Iceland.
At Loch Leven it’s mainly Pinkies that winter here, with smaller numbers of other species having been resident through the summer months. After an initial count on 30th September of over 8000, things were looking good.
It’s always a great time of day to be up and about, particularly with a good sunrise. This morning there was the conflict of clear skies and heavy clouds rolling in, which made for some fantastic scenery.
This morning’s count of 23270 comes close to a record count, and is certainly the most we’ve recorded here in recent years. There is certainly plenty for them to feed on after what seems to have been an excellent harvest this year, and with the still relatively mild temperatures there is little reason to expect their numbers to drop any time soon. Keep a look out for large skenes of geese flying around, feeding in nearby fields, or roosting at night near the loch shore. It truly is a wildlife spectacle to behold!