So apparently it is spring here at Forsinard, although from the rain and wind hammering against the side of the office you would probably never believe that. The sky is grey, it’s cold again and I can barely see Ben Griam Beg through the cloud. The correct Scots word is...dreich! However over the last couple of weeks when the weather has been reasonably good we have had all manner of breeding birds starting to turn up on the reserve.
Up at Forsinain farm we have had our first swallow, plus a female merlin and a host of skylark and meadow pipit. There are still a few greylag geese loitering around in the fields, a “gang” of starlings have taken up residence in the eaves of one of the cottages and curlew and snipe can still be hear calling at dusk. The crazy “electronic” sound of lapwing can sometimes be heard drifting on the breeze. There are several pairs of pied wagtails and a couple of grey wagtails around the Forsinain Trail and both field voles and weasels in amongst the dry-stone walls along the side of the track.
Female Merlin taken by Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
Down on the river there are at least two pairs of dipper along with a pair of common sandpiper and a rather lonely looking oystercatcher. A grey heron has also been lurking around the red bridge over the last couple of days and I spotted a peregrine falcon patrolling over the lower fields by the river.
Dipper by Tom Marshall (rspb-images.com)
Out on the bog the golden plover are starting to sort themselves out, with the odd greenshank now turning up, hen harriers sometimes being seen hunting over the peatlands and the dark shape of ravens cruising over the plantations. There are still herds of red deer around, with fifty spotted grazing down by the river last week.
Greenshank by Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)
If you want to get some idea of what all these birds sound like, then click on their name (underlined in blue) and visit the profile page for the species. At the top left corner of the species page is a button labelled PLAY which will give you an idea of the range of calls and songs associated with that bird species.
Our volunteers were out this week undertaking surveys and performing the essential task of cleaning out the water tank at Forsinard. This vital task is performed once a month on a rota system and as per usual it was an absolutely awful day with heavy rain. Still, the volunteers (Paul & Will) along with our Assistant Warden Claire and myself managed to drain down the tank, clean it out and restore the water supply.
Our volunteers Will and Paul cleaning out the water tank
Remember that the visitor centre is now open daily from 9am to 5pm and Kirsty will be leading guided walks on Tuesdays and Thursdays (2pm - 4.45pm) from the start of May!