News from St Cyrus National Nature Reserve

Therese Alampo is the Reserve Manager at St. Cyrus National Nature Reserve. A coastal reserve near to Montrose and fairly handy for both Aberdeen and Dundee it is one of our most popular sites and there is plenty to keep the team busy. Here’s a flavour of what has been happening of late.

St Cyrus NNR

No matter how busy, stressful and full of decisions life can be, events like a full solar eclipse can’t help but to put into perspective how connected we all are to nature. We can sometimes become detached from the fact that we are all completely and utterly dependent on the most obvious things in nature and take for granted things like our sun and moon and the powerful effects they have on us and our planet.

Our ‘circadian’ rhythms, even though in modern life seem so far from importance actually rule our lives. Forget your wrist watch, ‘Circadian’ rhythms relate to your natural body clock, a ‘clock’ which we share with most other living organisms and one that effects our moods, sleep patterns, energy levels and so on.

The day of the eclipse was by any standards one of the most remarkable I can remember at St. Cyrus:

  • a near total eclipse cast its eerie shadow across the reserve
  • it was the spring equinox, when day and night became equal, and
  • topped off by a supermoon.

Of extraordinary clarity to me were the reactions of our crepuscular (more active at dawn and dusk) song birds who started to sing as if it were dusk, and the reactions of crows and rooks as they noisily cawed as they flew back to roost sites in a moment of bewilderment. A murmuration of starlings even came in to roost in a nearby tree.  How lucky to experience this

The reserve is literally bursting into life. The first primrose flowered on 12 March and golden lesser celandine are now in full bloom. These flowers were all in time for the queen bumblebee’s emergence from hibernation. It’s great to watch them as spring takes hold, clumsily buzzing around us looking for their first meal of nectar since the autumn. Remember to give them a little honey/sugar in water if you find a cold/tired queen to help her on her way.

We have been busy planning a summer full of great events for you all and have really pushed the boat out for 2015. We have bush craft experts to teach you how to discover which animals have been using the area, expert outdoor wild food foragers and cooks to teach you how to cook and find some of the wonderful wild Scottish foods, the Feis Rois orchestra are back, we even have a shipwrecked boat being installed on the beach, equipped with sound and video for you to experience what it may be like to be set adrift alone on a boat lost at sea.

If you plan to come along to anything remember to check dates/times have not changed and contact us at the office or check out our facebook page.


We have also been collating comments made by you during our visitor surveys of 2014 into a plan to improve the reserve, thank you for your input. This feedback will help us plan new and exciting interpretation, walks and so on. Our new wild flower trail – or ‘flooery meads fish box trail’ interpretation has just been delivered! We will be installing it very soon, the signs are mounted on bespoke fish boxes & aim to give you more info about our great flowers!

We have carried out lots of repair works on the Woodston/Donkey path and we will be officially re-opening this great path very soon.

Raven ( Corvus corax)

The ravens are back on the cliffs and the battle to be king of the cliffs has begun. What a spectacle as ravens, buzzard, peregrine, jackdaw and at times fulmar, all clash noisily – with some feathers being lost in the conflicts!

A young grey seal pup keeps appearing on the beach, it’s one the pups from last autumn/winter. It has been fully weaned and left to fend for itself by mum. These weaned pups, affectionately known as ‘weaners’, are still learning how to hunt and need time to rest so are often found snoozing on beaches. I have just sat with this pup for an hour, letting passers-by know to give it space and to warn unsuspecting dog owners too. At this time of year, after bad weather and rough seas they are often exhausted, so best thing is to give them room for a nap, but please let us know if you find a pup so we can check that it is not unwell.

Seal pup

I’d like to end with a note of thanks to our lovely regular dog walkers for sharing all the interesting finds and sightings over the past few months and for helping me to try and combat any dog poo issues. And with the spring brings the start of the breeding bird season! Can I ask you to help to spread the message amongst other dog walkers please, that within the reserve all dogs must be on a lead or to close heal and that there is a longstanding sanctuary area to the South of the reserve that includes the cattle field (you can still visit the hide via the path). Dogs can run on the beach. The bird populations are struggling so we need your help. Thank you as always.


St Cyrus events 2015 – please phone to book and to confirm dates and times

  • 12 April, 12-4pm … Spring beach clean with free cakes
  • 16 April – John Muir Week 2-4pm …Birding for kids, explore and discover the wonder of birds!
  • 24 May … Tracks and Signs with Willow Lohr 10:30-15:30pm
    Discover ‘who made that track’, get an insight into different animals behaviours, what they eat and how they live their lives, look at their tracks, their poo, fur and anything that we can find!
  • 19 July, 12-4pm …St Cyrus discovery day!  Join us to learn about wild foods and drink! With expert Mark Williams of Galloway foods cooking throughout the day and offering tipples and tasters galore! Then why not try your hand at some bushcraft and make your own food bowl with Williow Lohr the bushcraft expert. A chance to make fishing nets and other activities by the Scottish Fisheries museum. Learn all about our Whales and Dolphins with WDC, taste the local church ladies famous cakes! Have your face painted, make a bug hotel and much more.
  • 22 – 27 July, all day events, a once in a lifetime opportunity to be cast away on the beach at St Cyrus. This Installation will be set up on the beach and was Inspired by the story of Betty Mouat, A crofter from Shetland, Who spent eight days drifting alone in the North Sea. Drift Is an attempt to immerse audiences in an insubstantial world, isolated and soluble. This Is a place where time and memory have been caught on the strand, between land and sea.
  • 30 July, 2-4pm … the magical Feis Rois orchestra, providing the best of Scottish music.
  • 16 Aug, 2-4pm … Bracken Bash and volunteer get together
  • 12 September, 9pm till late … Join us for national moth night
  • 17 September … SCRA advanced tracks and signs with Willow Lohr
  • 19 September … National beach clean weekend … (Time to be confirmed)
  • 20 September … 2-4pm … Fungal foray with Liz Holden and the Angus mycology society, with a few fungal tasty treats at the end!
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