As we come towards the end of our last working week of the year and get ready for Christmas it’s a time to look back and today we’ve been talking in the team about our highlights from the year gone by as well as having a little party for Ellie who will be leaving us early in the New Year.
Seeing the Water rail at Loch Lomond – Steve and Ellie’s highlight
Steve and Ellie carried out three BTO/JNCC/RSPB Breeding Bird Surveys over the spring and summer months at our Loch Lomond NNR. These surveys are an important part of our calendar for the year and contribute valuable statistics for measuring local and national bird population trends. Steve and Ellie said that doing these were a real highlight for them and in particular spotting several Water rail which are normally very elusive.
“The surveys were really nice and peaceful although quite tiring as we covered quite a stretch but seeing the Water rails really perked us up for the last stretch. I was quietly delighted at seeing its little white bum disappearing into the rushes” (Ellie)
Blawhorn boardwalk – Amee’s highlight
This March saw the opening of the 170 metre extension to the boardwalk at Blawhorn Moss NNR. This was Amee’s personal highlight. It was quite a project to co-ordinate, working in partnership with Drumduff wind farm (GreenPower & Thrive renewables) who funded the work, the contractors as well as having the support of SRUC Oatridge students who fitted the hundreds of anti-slip strips.
“It was huge relief to get it finished as we were up against the elements with storm after storm and a deadline of the end of March to get the work done. It wasn’t an easy job with the anti-slip strips needing hours of time and a two-way gate that hadn’t been specced having to be fitted to create a bespoke fit. It’s made the peatland more accessible and was great to get support from GreenPower and Thrive Renewables who contributed 70% of the costs. Here’s to 2023 and Phase 2 of the boardwalk extension which will stretch over the northerly section” (Amee)
Dragonfly discovery day – Emma
This was definitely my favourite event of the year. It was brilliant putting together displays and talks for this day and it was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of all the visitors. I learned a heap in the process about these beautiful and fascinating creatures and it was especially great that we had quite a few dragonfly sightings on the day.
A big thank you Ellie from all of the team here for all of your passion and energy and amazing ideas – you are leaving a legacy behind you at our Stirling NNRs and you’ll be sorely missed! For those of you who don’t know, Ellie will be moving onto her next adventure with Forestry and Land Scotland as a Forest Craftsperson. We had a little party today around the workshop fire with one of Steve’s famous cakes and gave Ellie some gifts to wish her well.
Fear not, fans of Ellie’s blog writing; she will be back in January for a few days and will be leaving you with her own departure post.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Christmas is also a time to appreciate and show gratitude so,, firstly, we want to say a special thank you to our volunteers. It is amazing to have the support from a fantastic group of regular volunteers who come out and help every week, come rain or shine helping tackle Invasive Non-Native Species and other physically demanding jobs on our reserves. We just couldn’t do it without you!
A big thanks to all the other groups who helped over the year including SRUC Oatridge and ORCS who have been involved in all sorts of work including building the boardwalk, fencing and surveys. Thanks also to the other local groups and schools, including Gargunnock Primary School for their art work and the Forth Six Scouts who helped created hibernacula.
Thank you to our international group visitors such as Wetlands International, the delegates of the Glasgow 22 World Congress of Soil Science and the Natural Resources Wales, LIFE Raised Bog and Quaking Bog teams. It was great to share learning and to boost the profile and value of peatlands.
And a final thank you to all our visitors and friends of the Stirling Reserves. We know there are many who deeply value the NNRs and help to keep them protected and the special places they are.
Merry Christmas to you all! We look forward to seeing you on the reserves soon!
Thank you, Ellie for all your hard work! And best foot forward for your next adventure!
All of you, enjoy your break and the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends.