Tentsmuir NNR is lucky to have a fantastic team of enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers. Here, one of the group, Tom Ross tells us about his love of birds and his days out surveying on the Reserve.
There are three surveys I do and I find them each very different but very interesting. The first is the Morton Lochs survey which I do twice in the month. This is the easiest one as there are good hides to shelter in if needed and it’s not in any way taxing in effort. It always takes about an hour and there’s a good chance of something turning up. The main part is the teal count which is very variable with virtually none over the summer but then getting into the hundreds in winter, although the numbers appear to be decreasing compared to historical records. I think my most exciting bird observations to date are probably the white-tailed eagle, kingfisher and the water rail, but all the birds here are special to me.
The second survey is the Goose Count which is done over at Tentsmuir Point by the Ice House area. This count is carried out over the winter months while the geese are over-wintering here. I started it in November 2015 which involved very early morning starts as you have to be out on the dunes before daybreak in the hope of catching the geese lifting off from their night roosts. Depending on the state of the tide, this is often away out on the Abertay sandbanks. The main species are pinkfoot and greylag with the hope that there may be some other of a rarer kind with them, although the last winter/spring was a bit quieter than previous years, mainly due to the mild and wet weather.
For me, the best parts of the Goose survey are the quiet early mornings and the stunning sunrises with not a person except you out there. This survey is a weekly event which can be done in the morning or evening when the birds arrive back from the feeding fields and are looking for a safe place to roost overnight, which they find out at Tentsmuir Point.
The third survey is my favourite and is called The North Transect Survey where all birds are counted between the south border fence close to the Ice House and the north boundary fence on Tentsmuir Point. The fact it covers a very diverse habitat, means there’s a chance of any kind of bird turning up and generally gives a good species mixture. This survey is carried out once a month and gives me a pleasant walk through fantastic scenery.
Would you like to become a volunteer with SNH? You can find more about what to expect and how to apply here.
And to see the wonderful and varied sites and sounds of Tentsmuir NNR for yourself, have a look at the website to help you plan your day.