We managed to condense our three day Health and Safety inspection down to two days. These inspections are always useful but can be quite stress full to say the least. This time round it was more of the former than the latter. Getting a fresh perspective on how we carry out our normal management is always helpful as you can slip into bad habits. This time I am pleased to say that thanks to the hard work of the team everything was excellent. There are always a few minor points to be picked up on but there was nothing that gave our H & S officer or myself any cause for concern!
With that out the way I was able this morning to have a quick look round the reserve something I have not really done since christmas. With the increasing northerly winds I was really hopeful that there might be something of note lurking out on the beach or the Loch but unfortunately this was not the case.
That said there are still plenty of good birds around; we currently have up to three snow geese roosting with the pinkies (a white phase and two blue phase) and good numbers of waterfowl and waders across the whole reserve.
Off shore there were small numbers of duck with groups of long tailed duck, common scoter, eider, red breasted merganser and goldeneye scattered along the coast. The incrreasingly choppy seas made it hard to count divers but there were at least three great northerns off shore.
Ralf continues to intimidate the ducks on the Loch. I think they now realise that he is getting quite adept at catching them and they all panic whn he flies over. In the past only those closest to hime would half heartedly move out the way but not now! When he flies over everything gets up off the Loch.
The forecast for the next couple of days is for more snow and northerly winds so hopefully a few birds will be pushed along in front of the weather!
Will let you know when we find them!
Our boiler was finally fixed last Friday so we are all warmish again in the office. Even with the heating working it still very rarely gets above cool on the office thermometre which today feels tropical compared to the Cold Danger of Hypothermia setting that it has been on!
The year list is progressing steadily - we are now on 104. There are a few missing species that have I suspect really suffered in the cold weather at the start of the year, the most notable one being goldcrest. They are normally resident on the reserve and can usually be heard if not seen from the Fen Hide board walk, but not so far this year. Another species more notable by its abscence so far in 2010 is the treecreeper, again regularly seen from around Fen Hide. Perhaps less of a surprise has been the abscence of bittern. Strathbeg has hosted a wintering bird for over nine years making it one of the most reliable sites in Scotland for this engimatic reed bed species but not this year. Loch of Kinnordy has had records since October I believe so perhaps it decided for a change this winter!
For those of you who do regularly visit the reserve I thought it sensible to answer what is one of the most frequently asked questions this winter - why have we cut down all the gorse from the path to Tower Pool Hide? The reason is simple - we were successful in a funding application and this is allowing us to replace these gorse dominated hedges with hedges made up of native trees. We will in mid t late February be planting 12000 trees to form 2km of new hedge rows - anyone who is interested in helping us out on this mamoth task please contact the reserve office [ (01346) 532017] as all offers of help gratefully received.
We are being inspected by our Health and Safety officer over the next three days so this will tie me up, and combined with staff being on leave and on training courses will probably mean that there will be no updates or the rest of the week - unless something major turns up on the reserve!
The year list is progressing nicely - we are now on 98 following the addition of dunlin, coal tit and bullfinch over the weekend.
The office boiler has broken and so despite the fact that it is only six degrees outside that is still warmer than in the office!
Hopefully we have temporarily solved the problem and the engineer is booked to come and fix it! When it is warmer and my fingers have defrosted I will update again.