Loch a Chnuic, Abernethy RSPB reserve, Speyside, Scotland, August 2007

A day in the life of Ian Perks

Ian Perks takes us through a very enviable day amid the eyries and forests of Abernethy…

How my day starts

"My day starts with the best commute in the UK!

I drive through ancient Caledonian pine forest to get to my office at Abernethy. From my office window I can see across the tree canopy and out onto the hills. I always have a quick scan first thing in the morning to see if I can see a crossbill, crested tit or even an eagle.

Next I am off to check on nesting golden eagles. The birds are very secretive and don't like human disturbance so I take my pick-up truck and drive to a vantage point a few kilometres away from the nest, and use a telescope to spy onto the nest.

The female is sitting tight, incubating eggs. Suddenly the male appears, soaring high in the sky. I watch him gain height then swoop down straight onto the nest to relieve the female and let her get some exercise."

Ian Perks

Off to the nursery

"After the excitement and joy of seeing golden eagles, my next stop is the Abernethy tree nursery. Here, we're growing trees that will be planted on the reserve to act as a seed source.

For centuries, human interference has limited the number of broadleaf trees that should form a large and important part of the forest. By growing and planting these trees, we hope to kick-start a process where the trees (including aspen, birch and alder) can begin to self-seed and spread naturally back into their former range.

The trees are looking good and beginning to flourish. They’ll be ready to plant next year, which is a job we often get volunteers to help with.

Next it's back to the office, to write a report on our plans for scrub woodland planting. Scrub woodland is a name given to a number of species that make up a transition zone of plant life, from the large pine trees of the lower altitude forest to the open high-altitude plateau. It mainly consists of various species of birch, willow and juniper, and is largely absent from the UK."

Scots pine Forest silhouetted at sunset, Abernethy RSPB nature reserve

Restoring what's been lost

"Here at Abernethy, there is a long-term plan to restore this missing piece of habitat, which can be very important for a range of species including rare breeding birds, fungus and specialist invertebrates.

My report is detailing some of our plans to collect cuttings from some of our rare species of willow. These cuttings will then be grown on in the nursery before being planted.

I leave the office again to visit the Osprey Centre. This gives me a chance to speak to some of our visitors, find out what they have seen and give them some insight into the work we are doing. 

I always get a thrill explaining to folk the importance of Abernethy, and of our vision for the reserve. We have a 200-year plan to restore what’s been lost. It's great to be able to thank our members for their support in making this happen.

The truth is we couldn't have this vision without the support of our supporters. Your support gives us the certainty to know that Abernethy will still be owned and managed by RSPB in 200 years time.

That is why organisations like ours are so important when it comes to preserving the UK's wildest and most important sites."

- Ian Perks

Scots pine, silhouetted against dawn, RSPB Abernethy nature reserve

How you can help

Abernethy RSPB reserve. Speyside, Scotland.

Thank you for what you're already doing to help our projects in the UK and abroad - we couldn't do it without you. If you feel you can donate some additional money at this time, it will help us achieve even more.