Monday, 15 April 2013

Spring into action...

Jack here; having arrived back a couple of weeks ago I thought I would keep you all updated on what’s about on the reserve at the moment.

It’s finally beginning to feel a little bit like spring here today. It’s been a tough winter for many of our seabird species, birds such as Guillemots and Razorbills spend the entire winter out on the open sea. Imagine that... 7 months on the open sea! They arrive back in early spring to breed. Our Auks (Guillemots, Razorbills and one or two Puffins) will come and go at this time of year, checking out old nest sites and enjoying the novelty of being on dry land.

The affect of unseasonal weather has meant that many of our seabirds have been slow getting started. Guillemots and Razorbills have just about become a permanent feature on our cliffs and Shags have begun building some impressive nests. The cliffs are a noisy place, with bird’s pair bonding and disputing territories. Keep a look out for the first eggs. Last year the first Guillemots were seen on eggs on the 14th April.

During the spring many migrant birds pass through the reserve on their journey north to breeding grounds. St. Abb’s Head provides the perfect stop-off point as it is a prominent headland. This year many of our migrant birds have been later than usual due to the strong north east wind (who wants to fly into that). In the last week we have been graced by Chiffchaff, Wheatear and White Wagtail and this morning provided the first records of Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Swallow.

A few signs of spring on the reserve...

Peacock Butterfly (first of the year)

Mute swan courtship display
Hare (keep an eye out for boxing)

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Spring Migrants?

So, spring may not have sprung yet as far as the wildlife is concerned - not a sign of a wheatear, a sand martin or a ring ouzel on the Reserve yet - but we have had a couple of human migrants. On Good Friday Jack Ibbotson  returned  to St Abbs for his second year as Seasonal Ranger (the arrival of the Seasonal always signals spring in my mind), and then Easter Monday was our new Marine Ranger, Laura Smith's, first day at work.

Regulars will remember Jack (pictured top left, looking decidedly camp!)  - a very keen birder and all round general good egg (aha ha!).  Jack left us last September, went off to spend a couple of months working with the Trust's Ranger Team on Arran and then spent the rest of the winter gadding about birdwatching and generally enjoying his freedom.  But he seems to be pleased to be back in the saddle at St Abbs again!

Laura (pictured bottom left, looking rather demure) has migrated south from Spey Bay where she has been working for the last 7 years working for the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society.  Laura brings with her a wealth of experience of working with volunteers and of environmental interpretation, including storytelling skills, which will be invaluable in her new job. We are very pleased to welcome her to our small, but perfectly formed, team!