After nearly 9 years it’s time for me to move on from Loch Leven, and I leave with many happy memories, both of the site and of the people I’ve been lucky enough to work with. We’ve got a great team of volunteers at here, without whom so much would not get done, and they feel very much like part of the team. The wider area staff within SNH have also been hugely supportive over the years, championing the work that is done on all the NNRs in the area and throughout the country.
My final week started early, with a goose count at 5.30am on Monday morning. There was a a total of 4009 Pinkies and 55 Greylags, but none from where I was at Grahamstone. What made my morning, though, was a spectacular encounter with no less than 4 Otters!A family of 3 made their way past me, no more than 20 metres away and completely oblivious to my presence. They made it to the gabion baskets that protect the reed bed, where they ran into a male Otter. There was a brief scuffle, before the family swam into the reed bed and the male made it’s way back in front of me. Would you believe I had forgotten my camera! I managed only a short video of the 3 Otters swimming past, but the experience was unforgettable.
On Tuesday Jeremy and I were helping out with the removal of gorse on a SSSI on Bishop Hill, designated for it’s geological importance. It was a great day out on the hill working with the land-owner, colleagues from Battleby and Edinburgh and volunteers Jock and Richard, and great to get such a fine view of the NNR from up on the hill. Fortunately I remembered my new travel camera this time round, and was able to get a few pictures of us working, and a cracking panorama shot too. I wasn’t quick enough to get the 2 Peregrines, Short-eared Owl or Buzzard, but then we were worknig pretty hard!
We had a full compliment of volunteers in on Wednesday- 10 in total. David, Grant, Raz and I headed over to St Serf’s to sort out the grid markers for the gull count, and there was plenty to see while we were out there. We counted 76 Barnacle Geese- a high count for this species, more commonly associated with the west side of the country. We were also treated to close-up views of a Short-eared Owl, and found several Greylag Goose nests, and a couple of predated Mallard eggs- an early breeding attempt for this species. The others spent their day on tree work with Jeremy up at Mary’s Knowe, and taking care of a few jobs around the boatshed back at base. We took the opportunity with everyone together to get a rare group shot- a couple of folk missing, but good to have them all in on my last week.
So I’ll hand over to Jeremy, Therese, Lesley and Tom now. Thanks for reading, and thanks to all for your support and enthusiasm over the years. It really has meant a lot. I’m off to Noss NNR in Shetland now, so do remember to follow Birds of Noss on Facebook to keep an eye on what I’m up to.