Loch of Strathbeg

Loch of Strathbeg

Loch of Strathbeg
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Loch of Strathbeg

  • And the winners are....

    We're very excited to be able to announce the winners of our Doric Meadows Poetry Competition that we ran as part of the Save our Magnificent Meadows project. 

    There were three categories in the competition – 11 and under, 12 to 18 years, and 19 and over – which closed on 30 May. The esteemed judging panel of  Jean MacKinnon, Les Wheeler and Robbie Shepherd were tasked with selecting a first, second and third place in each category and  were really impressed with the quality of entries.  

    To hear some of the winning poems, come along to Loch of Strathbeg on Saturday, which is National Meadows Day, for our Meadows Celebration.

    Without further ado, here are the winners, in reverse order and starting in the youngest category:


    11 and under:

    In third place was Kacper Wisnieki with a poem titled Meadows

    In second place was Sarah Downie and Finlay White with a poem titled Afa Bonnie Meadow

    And in first place was with a poem called The Meadows was Martha Fowlie!

    This is Martha’s poem:


    12 to 18 years:

    In third place was Faye Addison with a poem titled Meadows

    In second place was Darya Ogston with a poem titled Colourful Poem

    And in first place was with a poem called The Meadow was Bruce Webster!

    The judges also chose to award a commendation in the 12 to 18 category for Monty Duncan’s poem The Meadow. It could not be judged as part of the main competition because it was not written in Doric, but the judges felt it should get a special mention.

    Here is Bruce’s winning poem:


    Last, but not least, 19 and over:

    In third place was Doug Hay with a poem titled Fit like wid it bi?

    In second place was Gordon M Hay with a poem titled Ley Grun

    And in first place was with a poem called Memories o a Meadow was Anne Groat!

    Here is Anne’s winning poem:


    For more information about the Meadows Celebration on Saturday visit rspb.org.uk/lochofstrathbeg.


  • Little Things Mean A Lot

    It’s summer festival season, and here at Strathbeg there’s a lot going on.


    Little gulls – Ian Francis (RSPB)

    Headline Act: As you may have seen from the main Scotland blog we are rather excited. We have little gulls confirmed as breeding on the island in front of the Visitor Centre, (and conveniently also in front of the new office windows)! It’s a first for Scotland, only the sixth time it’s happened in Britain, and a source of both delight and trepidation for the staff and volunteers; we’re on 24/7 watch keeping an eye on them, so you can imagine our feelings when the rain lashed down relentlessly for three days last week. The fields flooded, and the water levels continued to rise despite Richard taking out every sluice board he could; we were seriously worried that the water would reach the nest. Fortune smiled, however, and the gulls proved dedicated to their task and sat tight throughout, ensuring their soon-to-hatch eggs stayed warm. Now we wait for the next stage...from hatching to fledging. I think there will be a few sleepless nights.

    Little gull showing dark under-wing – Graham White

    Out on the Meadow Stage: The fen meadow at Mosstown is full of blossom and colour as the orchids come into bloom, with skylarks, meadow pipits and snipe all using the meadow, and the added glamour of both a little egret and a great white egret seen regularly. The ponies staged a small rebellion and decided that the electric fence wasn’t going to stop them from going where they wanted – the result is we now have a new, improved fence unit which might keep them under control. The three new foals are doing well, and growing almost visibly! We have schools visiting us almost every day during the week, keeping Roddy busy showing them the web of life on the reserve, particularly in the meadows, and from the great feedback we’re getting he’s doing a terrific job. The Doric Poetry competition received a lot of entries, and the judges including Robbie Shepherd were very impressed by the general standard – it’s great to see such an interest being taken in the local heritage. You’ll have to wait to know the results of the competition, which will be announced at our upcoming Meadows Celebration on Saturday 2 July. We have a packed programme for the whole afternoon starting at noon and running until 5.00 pm, with music, poetry, storytelling, guided walks and self-guided trails, hands-on craft activities, face painting, a bumblebee safari and of course the prize giving! Please come along and give us your support – it’s going to be a great day!

    Marsh orchid – Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

    Supporting acts: the common terns on Starnafin Island have chicks, as do the remaining black-headed gulls. Shelduck ducklings can be seen on the pools, with a lot of tufted ducks and gadwalls. Wigeon are grazing the islands, and we’ve had a few waders – dunlin, knot and a breeding-plumaged ruff. With our new office window, we have – of course – started a new ‘office window list’ for birds seen; at the moment it stands at 68 species (the reserve list is up to 141 for the year) with common crane, glossy ibis(18 May), marsh harrier, Arctic tern (19 June), a grey-headed yellow wagtail (17 May), osprey and the egrets being amongst the stand-out performers. We’ve also seen some mammals during our gull-watch, including brown hare just outside the window, badger, roe deer and pipistrelle bats. By the hordes of young tree sparrows chasing their parents around the feeders outside the window, they have also had a good year!

    Brown hare – Chris Gomersall (rspb-images.com)

    On the domestic front, the new office is almost sorted out, and the building inspector has been in to check things over. There are still one or two bits to be finished in the Visitor Centre, but we hope to be opening soon and definitely in time for the Meadows Celebration. We hope to see you there!

  • Come celebrate meadows with us

    On Saturday 2 July, like many people across the UK, we will come together to celebrate National Meadows Day.

    The first ever national Meadows Day was held last year and a range of events took place across the UK. This year looks as if it will be an even bigger event and that's certainly the case at Loch of Strathbeg where we would love people to join us for our Meadows Celebration.

    We are planning a day of fun and discovery, as part of our participation in the Save Our Magnificent Meadows project, and there will be plenty of activities for folk of all ages.

    You can see what's in the meadow, get hand on with arts and crafts or by pond-dipping or planting wildflowers. You can show your skills in our open mic sessions or just enjoy the organised  performances and poetry recitals. There will be a bumblebee safari and a meadows guided walk and we'll have volunteers on hand to point out birds. You can also discover the winners of our Doric Meadows Poetry Competition.

    The Buchan Ranger Service, NE Scotland Biodiversity Partnership, Bumblebee Conservation Trust and local RSPB Wildlife Explorers are all coming along, and we'd love it if you came too.


    Times and other important info

    The Meadows Celebration will take place from 12-5 pm on Saturday 2 July. The visitor centre car parking is reserved for visitors with restricted mobility only. There will be in-field parking for some cars and a shuttle bus will run every hour from Crimond to the nature reserve. For more information call 01346 532017 or visit rspb.org.uk/lochofstrathbeg.

    Photo of lesser butterfly orchid taken by Derren Fox at Loch of Strathbeg, where numbers of this rare plant  have increased during the Save our Magnificent Meadows project.


    What is Save our Magnificent Meadows all about?

    Save Our Magnificent Meadows is the UK’s largest partnership project transforming the fortunes of vanishing wildflower meadows, grasslands and wildlife. Led by Plantlife, the partnership is made up of 11 organisations including RSPB Scotland, and is primarily funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

    97% of UK wildflower meadows have been lost since the second world war and many of those remaining are damaged or degraded. Meadows and species-rich grasslands can provide homes for a huge range of wildlife including wildflowers, fungi, bees, flies, beetles, spiders, moths, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians, small mammals, bats and birds.

    Save Our Magnificent Meadows is:

    • ‚ÄčTargeting just under 6,000 hectares of wildflower meadows and grasslands in nine strategic landscapes across the UK
    • Giving people all over the UK the chance to visit, enjoy and learn about our wildflower meadows and grasslands
    • Raising awareness of the desperate plight of wildflower meadows and grasslands and equipping communities with the knowledge and skills to reverse this devastating trend.

    Photo by Northumberland Wildlife Trust