Titans to travellers – 48 hours in the life of a Reserve Officer

Corrie Fee NNR

Corrie Fee NNR

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.

The view up Jock's Road

The view up Jock’s Road

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.

Stag spotting

Stag spotting

Spot the stags!

Spot the stags!

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.

Pink-footed Goose

Pink-footed Goose

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.

A morning treat!

A morning treat!

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.

Dark clouds looming at sunrise

Dark clouds looming at sunrise

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.

A Mute Swan drifts in front of the sunrise

A Mute Swan drifts in front of the sunrise

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!

About Craig.Nisbet

Reserve Officer Loch Leven National Nature Reserve Scottish Natural Heritage
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