For those of us who live and work in towns and cities, our daily lives awash with traffic, noise and business, the countryside can sometimes seem a faraway place. It can be a breath of fresh air to even read about places where the day-to-day involves kingfishers, otters, and pink-footed geese more than it does cars and people.
So if you don’t even have time to nip out to an urban park during your lunch hour, may we recommend a dose of a National Nature Reserve blog to remind you of what you’re missing – and where you can head out this weekend? (Or if you’re lucky enough to live near one.)
We have three amazing blogs – straight from local National Nature Reserves (NNRs) – and full of amazing wildlife tips and information. They’re written by our knowledgeable and enthusiastic NNR staff at Loch Leven, Isle of May, and Muir of Dinnet.
Here are a couple of excerpts to show you what you’re missing!
Loch Leven – Reserve staff, Gus and Jeremy, recently wrote their own Winterwatch series of blogs, comparing what was seen on BBC Winterwatch each night with what you can see on this wonderful nature reserve. Here’s a short excerpt:
“The stonechat can be seen around the trail in small numbers anywhere there is gorse. This little bird breeds in the hills and drops down to the loch to spend the winter. Listen out for their call: it sounds like two pebbles being knocked together.”
And to show their absolute dedication: “For the sake of this blog, at lunchtime I climbed into the roof space of the office to look for wintering butterflies. I did, however, fail but I was surprised at the amount of wasp nests up there.”
Isle of May – David, our Isle of May reserve manager, gives a wonderful taste of what it’s like to live among thousands of seabirds for months on end with his blog. He’s as enthusiastic and entertaining telling us about the puffins the island is known for, as he is about the rare migrant birds he spots.
Here’s a great example: “Just as we thought migration was slowly coming to a close, we had these: four long-tailed tits! Now for those thinking it’s not that special as you get them in your back garden, remember we are on an island in the North Sea! The general rule of thumb is that if it’s a woodland bird, it’s probably going to be rare out here. The last great spotted woodpecker was in 2013, the last blue tit record was in 2005 and the last magpie was 1986!!”
Muir of Dinnet – Catriona, our Muir of Dinnet reserve manager, is both a wealth of information and a true word wizard. She’s immensely fun to read – here’s a sample:
“There have been quite a few swans on the lochs as well, much to the disgust of the resident pair. The male has been steaming from one end of the loch to the other, chasing the interlopers off ‘his’ patch. Not that they go far – they just move around him and re-form into a group elsewhere on the loch. And off he goes, again….”
“Winter is actually one of the best seasons for wildlife watching … you get spectacles like geese coming in to roost or huge flocks of winter thrushes. Sunsets and sunrises are at a time of day you can actually see them, not the middle of the night. And there aren’t any leaves on the trees, which makes spotting birds a lot easier too.”
NNRs are wonderful places to explore and see wildlife, and are also an important part of what we do to help protect and restore Scotland’s biodiversity. The reserves are part of the Scottish Biodiversity Strategy SBS 2020 Challenge which aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and restore essential services that a healthy natural environment provides.
Vicki Mowat is one of our Media relations and PR Officers.