Sunday 18 November 2012

Fair-Weather Fowl

The cold was fairly bitter last night after getting used to the milder, damp weather of late and we woke up to a light covering of snow on the fields and a frost that turned getting into vehicles the first fun challenge of the day! But it was bright, sunny and clear - perfect weather for admiring the snowfall on the higher tops. And also perfect weather for investigating the local waterbirds as part of the BTO's wetland bird survey.

The view North-East to Carn Liath (the grey hill), first summit of Beinn a' Ghlo,
and a stand of Scots Pine jutting out into Loch Moraig in the foreground.

The Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) monitors the populations of non-breeding waterbirds in the British Isles and provides important information about population numbers and trends. It has been going on since the late 1940's and over 3,000 volunteers now take part in the survey each year, all going out once a month on a designated date to record the species' on 'their' site. Co-ordinating the day on which the count takes place means that the BTO can obtain a relatively complete picture of the waterbird population across the whole of the British Isles. Not bad for a scheme that started out only on the wetlands around London and Birmingham.

 We recently took on several of these surveys on some of the lochs down at the Dunkeld end of the Estate. Although Loch Moraig isn't on Atholl Estates, we are 'caretaking' the WeBS count here for a while, until a new counter can be found as the dedicated recorder for this site has retired after an impressive twelve years (at least!) on the case. It's a lovely site too, which was looking stunning this morning. If you are reading this and thinking that you would be interested in volunteering to carry out monthly counts on Loch Moraig please get in touch with us through the ranger service website and we will do our best to help you out. You don't have to be an expert at bird identification to do one of these surveys and it's a great motivator to get out and brush up on your skills.

Here's hoping next month is as pleasant as it was today!

Looking South-East across Loch Moraig towards Ben Vrackie

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