Wonderful Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve

Today we feature a guest blog from Tom Cunningham our Reserve Manager at Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve. Tom has worked at Tentsmuir for 17 years and few people know the reserve as well as our popular warden. Here he talks us through what makes the wonderful mix of sands and forests such a special place for wildlife and people alike, and invites you to come along and see for yourself.

Aerial view of Tentsmuir NNR

Aerial view of Tentsmuir NNR

“Things are seldom static at Tentsmuir and whilst I shouldn’t be surprised any more I am still taken aback, time to time, by the sheer power of natural forces. This year it has been the winter and spring storms sculpting the Tentsmuir Point dunes that has been breath-taking.

“I was stunned when massive areas of dunes, and well developed dunes at that, just disappeared earlier this year. Some of the highest dunes along the north east corner of Tentsmuir Point have been eroded and completely washed away.

“Much of the developing bay area, the saltmarsh with its vast green mat of glasswort, with the fringes of sea sandwort and saltwort, is gone. It leaves you speechless at how fragile and vulnerable the dunes are, and with the power of the sea and wind.

Sea eagle

Sea eagle

“At the moment the stunning white-tailed eagles and ospreys are regularly observed throughout the Reserve and forest. A few of the other species that catch the eye include the beautiful plovers … ringed plover, golden plover and grey plover. The return of the skylarks is always a joy to behold, swallows fill the sky, and we can also enjoy greenshank, redshank, sandwich terns and gannets. At Morton Lochs visitors have been catching a glimpse of the kingfisher, red squirrels and the otter.



“Engaging with people is a big part of my role at Tentsmuir. On July 3rd we have a family day out that we are badging as ‘Happy 60th Birthday Tentsmuir Point’. Starting at 1pm the event will be based around Homecoming Scotland 2014 & Scotland’s Big 5. However, we will have our own ‘Tentsmuir’ spin on the various species.


“The new-style shorter activity sessions will continue, so I’d suggest that if you come along you cram as many of the activities in as possible and learn all about the flora and fauna and what goes on in the Reserve. There may be a moment or two to wait after one activity ends and the next one begins, but come and enjoy, learn and try several different ones. Each activity will last 20 to 30 minutes; you finish one and then move onto the next one.

“So far the activities include;

  • Art wonders with David Mitchell
  • Treasure bug hunt with Elspeth & Sarah
  • Make Diamond Dreams dream catchers with Kathryn Green
  • Make Bug Hotels with Willie and Ali
  • Learn all about the white-tailed sea eagles with RSPB officer Sophie Eastwood
  • The Time Capsule with Alex & Iain
  • A mystery activity with Dave & Gavin


I would advise that you book early to avoid disappointment. With the exception of the £2 charge for the car park, it’s all free! (It’s now £2 at the barrier, please have change ready.) If you can’t make it along to the above don’t despair. We have other events in the pipeline too and work with our colleagues in Forestry Commission Scotland to deliver these. Here’s a sample of what’s on the horizon:

Thursday, 24 July 2014: Explorer Day.

Activities include: Geocaching Trail, Crafty Corner, Puppeteers & Colouring In.

Thursday, 31 July 2014: Habitat Day & the Big 5.

Activities include: Lisa’s Crafty Corner, Nature Dials and Build a Bug Hotel.

Thursday, 7 August 2014: Homecoming Scotland – The return of the eagle.

Activities include: Return of the Eagle with the RSPB Sophie Eastwood. Quiz trail and  Crafty Corner.

“If you are interested in coming along to any of the above just leave me your details on the following telephone answer machine. 01382-553704 or email me directly at: tom.cunningham@snh.gov.uk

“Do make time to come along to Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve … you won’t regret it and rather like watching my beloved Raith Rovers you can expect the unexpected from time to time.”


Find out more about Tentsmuir NNR

Enjoy our Tentsmuir video 

Events at Tentsmuir and our other NNRs here – http://www.nnr-scotland.org.uk/news-and-events/events/

Morton Lochs was designated a National Nature Reserve in 1952, and was the second to be declared in the UK. Tentsmuir Point was designated an NNR in 1954 the third to be designated in the UK. In 2006 they were joined together to make the Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve.


Image credits: Aerial view – © Photo-Aerial Photography Solutions, sea eagle – © Peter Cairns/2020VISION, all others – © Lorne Gill/SNH

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