Saturday, 29 December 2007


It seems we may have developed a problem with illegal poaching on the reserve, besides that of the illegal fishing, which is already well documented both on this blog and elsewhere.

When on the reserve on Christmas Eve, there was a visit from the local Police. It appears that they had been called out by someone (Not myself) who had reported poaching on the reserve. I had been on the reserve for an hour at that point, and had neither heard or seen any sign of problems at that time, so it was deemed as a false alarm, i believe. Unfortunately, it seems there may have been some truth in the matter.

Janie called me this morning, advising that she had seen someone on the reserve with two black labrador dogs. From the noise and commands being issued to the dogs, she suspects that these were gun dogs. She said the man had something in his hand, but due to the shade, she couldn't clearly identify it. She does think it may have been a dead pheasant.
I went on the reserve myself this afternoon, and there was no sign of any activity on the reserve. There was, however clearly some shooting going on nearby and voices could be heard commanding dogs, so i have little doubt that Janie was correct and that people were poaching on the reserve.
I suspect the main targets would be the relatively large Pheasant population on the reserve, although Woodcock and Snipe are also known for shooting. With both of these species in decline in the UK, it is definitely a cause for concern that these species could be targetted.
I will be contacting Fife Constabulary regarding this, although there is little that can be done unless the culprits are caught in the act.

I would ask that if anyone is visiting the reserve they are vigilant of anyone behaving suspiciously. If you do see someone or something, whether it is shooting or fishing, please contact Fife Police on 0845 600 5702. Please DO NOT approach these people and leave the matter in the hands of the Police, who are trained to deal with these situations.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Lots been happening

Ok, i know it has been a while since i updated this blog, and first of all, i must apologise. Things have been rather hectic of late and i simply haven't had the time! I promise it'll be back to weekly updates from now on, though!

We're almost at the end of December, and I haven't posted at all this month, even though there's been so much going on!
First and most important of all, we've had the some of the cadets from the local Air Cadet Squadron on site doing some work. We initially had them on site on the 2nd of December, just for a little tour of the reserve. Surprisingly enough, none of the cadets had ever actually visited a nature reserve before. I have to admit, i was more than a little shocked by this. I remember as a child getting dragged to these places whether i liked it or not. The thought of not having been to a nature reserve by the time i was a teenager is almost incomprehensible to me. From reading various sites and speaking with various people, this seems to be the norm these days, which really is a shame.
For me it was even more important when we were showing them about to let them see not only what work we were going to be asking of them, but why we were asking it of them and to give them a chance to see some of the wildlife on the reserve.
We were quite well rewarded that day, too, with Roe Deer putting in an appearance, Teal, Wigeon, Mallard, Mute Swans and Heron on the loch and several of the smaller common bords about. The cadets seemed to have a genuine enthusiasm for the reserve, which i will definitely be trying to cultivate.
With the cold weather we've been having recently, there have been a few days where the loch has been pretty much frozen over. Only a few patches remained where the ducks and swans could access the water. As a result of the cold weather, we did have a large flock of gulls arrive. There were approximately 150 gulls on the loch, predominantly black-headed gulls, but with a few common gulls mixed in.

We had the cadets on the reserve again on the 16th December, this time to help with the work on the reserve. There were two tasks that we had in mind for them. To pick up the litter on the reserve, primarily at the pool which has been used by illegal fishermen and to help with the coppicing of the trees which have encroached upon the Snipe Bog.
Upon entering the Snipe Bog, we flushed three Snipe out, which is great news. At least we know the area is still in use for wintering birds.
The cadets were on site from approximately 10:30am to 2:30pm. We had originally planned to have them on site a bit later than this, but it was getting rather cold rather quickly!
Still, they managed to get a fair amount of work done and i was really impressed with them! They really should be proud of their achievements, too!
The picture below shows just some of the area the cadets managed to clear.

Here's some of the cadets working on clearing the scrub

Here's the other cadets on their way to the fishing loch for litter picking, accompanied by Janie in the foreground

And here they all are at the end of the day, looking surprisingly cheerful considering how much work they had just done!

The cadets will be back on the reserve helping out three more times before the end of February, so hopefully we'll have a fair amount of the scrub cleared away.
We're also getting a visit by a group from BirdForum on Saturday the 9th February, where I have agreed to give them a bit of a guided tour. That one will be interesting, since I've been out with some of them before, earlier this year on a visit to the Isle of May. There's some there who definitely have more bird knowledge than I do, so I'm going to have to try real hard not to embarrass myself!