Farewell to the Nature Reserve Manager

Sadly, we are now saying goodbye to our long-standing Reserve Manager, Neil Mitchell. Neil first came to Loch Leven in 2009 as a fresh-faced, new-in-post Reserve Manager. Moving from his previous role as the ranger at Montrose Basin and having a stint on St Kilda before hand.

Neil with John Craven

Neil has done a fantastic job of managing Loch Leven National Nature Reserve over the last decade (and more). With his influence, steer and partnership working, a circular trail around Loch Leven was implemented. We have had numerous hides/viewing screens upgraded and constructed, we have efficiently re-modelled our survey techniques to ensure viable scientific data is collected and many, many hours of graft and behind-the-scenes working has kept Loch Leven NNR a special place full of wildlife.

Neil doing trout in the classroom

Neil has welcomed hundreds of groups on the reserve, whether that be education outreach with local schools or far flung universities or practical volunteers from all over Scotland. He was always at the forefront of the Reserve, even having a few appearances on national TV..

His fleeting glimpse on Landward was the highlight last week!

Neil has always been keen to get stuck into various practical work. Very handy with a chainsaw, various fencing tools, boats and a hammer – he would always be keen to get stuck in…

A bit of fencing here…
Bit of sawing there… (This was at Morton Lochs after Storm Arwen)
Handy bit of polesawing…
Neil skippering the sheep with Scott the Shepherd.

Neil also managed for the internationally important populations of waterfowl we get on the loch, even writing a scientific paper! Normally seen with bins around his neck when wandering around the loch, he enjoyed getting out on the loch, conducting brood counts, nest surveys and WeBS (Wetland Bird Surveys).

Checking the Black-headed Gulls
Brood Counts on a cold spring morning
Last years nest survey team – Neil 3rd from left

Wasn’t just the birds. Neil is an all-round naturalist, a keen moth trapper and was occasionally seen delving into plants!

Neil conducting our lesser butterfly orchid survey

Neil built up a brilliant volunteering network of both practical volunteers and insect surveyors. Neil was happiest when outside – ideally involving bonfires and cake…

Have you ever seen a happier Reserve Manager?
There is a theme here…
Definitely a theme…
Neil with the volunteers…

So, for now we say farewell and congratulations to Neil. Neil has moved onto another post with NatureScot as a ‘Wetlands Advisor’. Not sure what it will entail, but I imagine bonfires wont be an annual thing…

His time at Loch Leven NNR will be a long lasting legacy with many great things being achieved. We wont see the last of him, I imagine he will be out on the loch fairly regularly – maybe even with a brown trout on the end of his fly rod……..wishful thinking eh Neil!

From all of us here at Loch Leven NNR we wish Neil all the best and thank him for his enthusiasm, wisdom, knowledge and great friendship over the years.

Thanks Neil!

About SimonR

I am a keen naturalist/wildlife conservationist from North-East Scotland. I work at Loch Leven National Nature Reserve as a Reserve Officer and have a deep interest in conservation and wildlife management in Scotland. Keen Birder, naturalist and practical habitat management enthusiast.
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1 Response to Farewell to the Nature Reserve Manager

  1. Farewell, Neil 😊🌍

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