Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve is managed by Scottish Natural Heritage. It’s one of a suite of reserves that help protect an amazing range of wildlife and landscapes, and each one is waiting to be discovered by you. The Creag Meagaidh reserve lies at the heart of the Monadhliath mountains and is half way between Fort William and Newtonmore on the A86 by Loch Laggan. It’s a large reserve where pioneering conservation work is bringing trees back to the surrounding hillsides. Rory Richardson is one of our staff on the ground and his recent diary extracts reveal some fascinating activity.
April 18 … “Got up early at 4am to undertake one of our annual black grouse counts, and we found ourselves rewarded with a stunning sunrise. As soon as I jumped out of the Land Rover the air seemed to vibrate with the noise of birdsong. We counted fifty eight male black grouse and eleven female in several different ‘leks’. This is up on last year’s count and really helps to lift the spirits. There were lots of visitors about and the car park was just about full today with ‘Meagaidh’ really looking at it best. The perfect end to the day was the remarkable sunset, it’s not often you get a day ‘book-ended’ with such stunning views.”
April 11 … “Today I saw my first ever magpie at Creag Meagaidh. They have been seen before at Laggan which is around ten miles further east, but never here before. There is more rainfall the further west you go so maybe that is a factor. Whatever the reason we also seem to be getting more crows and rooks now. We have always had a good number of ravens at Meagaidh and as the habitat recovers on this reserve we seem to be getting more species each year.”
April 2 … “One of the birds I love to see on the reserve is the black grouse . I find it amazing how much they stand out against the lighter habitat. They can be very focussed. I once saw a fox walk through the ‘lek’ without the black grouse even bothering ! Fair to say that Creag Meagaidh has become a paradise for black grouse and the regeneration of the native woodland has helped their numbers rise steadily through the last twenty years. They are stunning birds and the sound from their ‘lekking’ is something very special. Today I got up at 5am, and as it got light I received a real surprise … as the first bird just about landed on my head. There were seventeen males displaying with not one sign of a female.”
Find out more about Scotland’s National Nature Reserves at www.nnr-scotland.org.uk