Saturday, 26 March 2016

I was told about a search engine called Ecosia the other day - they use the revenue generated by advertising to plant trees, and have planted over 3 million so far. I am going to try it out, why don't you? Liza.

Heard my first chiffchaff of the year just now, just outside the Rangers' Office - spring is here! Liza.

Loads of people out enjoying a walk around the reserve in the sun yesterday, watching the gangs of lambs racing up and down the fields, and who can blame them? Unfortunately, though, I had to ask three sets of people to put their dog on a lead, even thought there are signs up asking them to do so. You may recall, a few weeks back we had a sheep worrying incident, with a dog chasing heavily pregnant sheep. The owner was mortified, her dog had never done anything like that before. However well you think you know your dog, they have instincts. Please don't chance it - keep an eye out for signs, and please keep dogs on leads when asked to do so. Thank you. Liza.
Our local dry stane dyker, John Rae, has been repairing the wall to the south of the Mire Loch over the last couple of weeks. Its like doing a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle, but with no picture to give you a clue as to what goes where. It takes skill and patience, but when done well, you shouldn't be able to tell where the mend is. John very kindly took a set of photos of the work he's been doing over the last few weeks to give you a bit of an insight into the process.  Liza.

Friday, 25 March 2016

You may remember that we had a Green Tourism audit the other week. This morning I received the news that we have been upgraded from Silver to Gold in recognition of the environmentally friendly way we run the property here at St Abb's Head. Good to know its been recognised that we practice what we preach! Liza.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Did you spot St Abb's Head on Countryfile last night? It was in a piece about the effect of wind farms on birds. It was an interesting piece, why not check it out on iplayer? The piece starts at about 6 mins 30 secs in.

If you have been down by the Mire Loch over the last few months, you will have noticed that there has been a lot of work taking place on the Mire Dam. This is because a we have been trying to locate the source of a leak in the dam (which has been getting worse over the last couple of years), and plug it. The dam is of a pretty basic construction - a core of "puddled" or compacted clay, with stone armouring on the side nearest the loch and all buried in an earth structure. ...You would think with such a simple construction it would be easy to find and plug a leak, but it has proved to be somewhat illusive. We have dug several large holes, punched through the concrete spillway and one of its walls, puddled in tonnes of clay, rebuilt the wall and recast the concrete spillway, and we have definitely slowed the leak down, but not stopped it completely. All somewhat frustrating! 

However, now that the breeding season is approaching fast, we have had to put an end to our work down there so that there is time for the water level to come back up ready for the wildfowl to start building their nests (we've been keeping the water level down with a siphon whilst we have been doing our excavations).

So apologies for the noise, and the mess and the disruption. The contractors have tidied themselves off site pretty well, but it still looks pretty scarred at the moment. But once the grass starts growing it will soon heal over. What do they say about eggs and omelettes? Thank you for bearing with us!


Saturday, 19 March 2016

Another big thanks to our volunteers Bill, Jean and Ernie who came out last week to help us clear ivy off some of the walls near the car park. This has cleared the way for some repairs to be carried out. Below are Jean and Ernie in action.  Lizy.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

I (Liza) was out on the cliffs with researchers from Napier and Northumbria Universities this morning. The folk from Northumbria were scanning the cliffs with a laser to produce a very accurate map of the cliff faces and kittiwake nest sites. The folk from Napier were introducing this year's research student, Jenna, to the site, and we were discussing suitable areas to install sound recording devices to monitor changes in seabird vocalizations in response to various factors. Isn't modern technology wonderful - except when the mist comes in, the laser didn't like that at all!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

A silver lining?

We had our biennial Green Tourism business scheme audit today. Green Tourism is a not for profit organisation which aims to make tourism more sustainable. Every two years we are assessed by them every against a rigorous set of criteria, covering a range of areas such as energy and water efficiency, waste management, biodiversity as well as social and ethical choices. We are proud to be on the Silver level of grading - I wonder if we will have done enough to progress up to gold? Only time will tell!

The recent warm weather has brought more spring firsts to St Abb's Head. We spotted our first butterfly, a Peacock, yesterday, and this stunning Red-green carpet was caught in a moth trap at the weekend.  Lizy.

Red-green Carpet (Chloroclysta siterata)

Friday, 11 March 2016

The last couple of days have been very spring-like here at St Abb's Head. Birds such as Skylark and Yellowhammer have started singing, flowers including Lesser Celandine and Primrose are starting to emerge, and most importantly the seabirds are back! The last couple of days have seen 1000s of Guillemots back on the cliffs, although they are very unsettled at this time of year, and could easily have all disappeared out to sea by tomorrow! Looking a bit more settled are the Shags which have already started to build nests.

Foul Bay, finally filled with the sights and sounds of a seabird colony after many months of emptiness

Guillemots back on the cliffs, including one bridled Guillemot with a white ring around its eye