We continue our social media spotlight on National Nature Reserves today with a short interview with our reserve manager at Loch Leven – Neil Mitchell. He introduces a site that is handily placed for the central belt, and recalls a midge sensation.
What was the main appeal in working on a National Nature Reserve?
I have always loved being outdoors, often the worse the elements the more I enjoy it and so I worked hard to avoid a more conventional career. National Nature Reserves represent some of the most spectacular landscapes and best wildlife the country has to offer, you couldn’t ask for any more from a work place but as a bonus I also get the satisfaction of knowing I’m doing my bit to help care for and enhance it as a legacy to future generations, that’s a privilege few get to have.
What is a typical work day like for you?
There is no such thing as a typical day on a NNR however that’s a large part of the attraction for me. For so many people their day to day job means the same routine day after day. I never quite know what the next day will bring and that’s not because I haven’t planned but the fact is you never know quite what the weather might do, what amazing wildlife you might see over the horizon or what kind of challenge the next phone call might bring. It’s often not easy but it’s never dull!
What is the best thing about your particular National Nature Reserve?
Everything!! Ok that might be a cliché but it’s the sum of all its parts. If someone were to ask me how they could see the best of Loch Leven I would say just wander quietly to the pier and watch the sun come up. If they did that every day for a week they’d see they best every time, but they wouldn’t see the same thing.
What’s your favourite species on your reserve ?
There are so many species on the reserve I like and many more I’m interested in but on this occasion I’m going to wave a flag for the little guys. The Chironomid midge, despite being just a few millimetres long when observed through a hand lens or microscope they look absolutely amazing with feathery antennae and so many different colours, often forming massive thick clouds along the path. They don’t bite, don’t live for long as adults and are dinner for most of the wildlife we have on the reserve but despite all that they are enough to get every visitor to Loch Leven talking about them so much so they made the BBC news, Springwatch and the Telegraph all in the same week and yet I couldn’t identify a single one to species level!! I might be pushing it to say they’re my favourite but I never fail to be impressed by them.
Find out more about Loch Leven NNR at http://www.nnr-scotland.org.uk/loch-leven/
Read more about the midge clouds Neil talks about @