Weather Warning

Firstly, Happy New Year to you all….hope 2016 is good to you.

Secondly…blimey!  What a week! I’ve never known rain like it. It’s even got to the stage where the older folks have stopped saying things like “Ah, but it’s not as bad as the floods of 18- o- whatever”…it’s the worst anyone can remember. My heart goes out to all the people who have been flooded – Deeside has fairly copped it this winter.

Vat burn at first bridge

Vat burn at first bridge

We’ve been pretty lucky on the reserve- so far, at least, our buildings seem watertight – but we have had to shut the loos and the lower Vat path has been washed out. We’ve had to shut the loos as the soakaway can’t soak away, so if the toilets are flushed, they back up. Not nice, but nothing we can do until the water drops. Likewise on the Vat path- the burn has overflowed onto the path on three separate occasions since new year. Again, there’s nothing we can do until the water drops- but we’ll get everything sorted as soon as possible.

You can't get into the Vat- the water is too high

You can’t get into the Vat- the water is too high

There's not normally a waterfall here...

There’s not normally a waterfall here…

More damage to the Vat path

Damage to the Vat path

Water damage to the Vat path

Water damage to the Vat path

However, I haven’t been able to get to Dinnet for much of this week, due to flooded roads. So I’ve been working from and helping out at Forvie NNR. The start of the week brought some Arctic visitors to the reserve, in the shape of several storm-driven little auks (although I think the American name of “dovekie” suits them well too). These tiny birds nest in the Arctic and winter far out to sea- until screaming south-easterly gales force them inland. One was even picked up at Glenlivet- about as far from the sea as you can get in this part of the world. They are usually weak and starving and many will die, but warmth, food and rest at various rescue centres will give some a second chance. Many took refuge in the Moray Firth and, now the weather has calmed, are bailing out, back to sea, at a phenomenal rate. A count today (Fri) estimated about 1600 little auks leaving the Firth per hour.

A rescued little auk

A rescued little auk

Little auk

Little auk

Little auks just offshore

Little auks just offshore

We also had a wee bit of repair work to do on a dyke at Waterside. No, it wasn’t the water….judging by the tyre tracks, it was a large lorry!  A wet and muddy job but satisfying when completed….although we were all birders and kept getting distracted by the little auks whizzing overhead while we were working.

Oops....

Oops….

Where to start...you have to take it all down and start from the bottom up.

Where to start…you have to take it all down and start from the bottom up.

Half finished

Half finished

Only the coping stones to go

Only the coping stones to go

All fixed!

All fixed!

Forvie has been fairly lucky with the weather too, but some of the paths are flooded. Diversions are in place on the heath trail. You can see why…

The Forvie heath trail is flooded

The Forvie heath trail is flooded

More flooding on the heath trail

More flooding on the heath trail

Some big waves were pounding into Hackely Bay. Not sure what that big, bright light was in the sky though…..someone said it was called the “sun”?

Big seas at Hackley Bay

Big seas at Hackley Bay

Hackley Bay, with a glimmer of almost-sun

Hackley Bay, with a glimmer of almost-sun

Hackley Bay, looking north to Collieston

Hackley Bay, looking north to Collieston

Big waves

Big waves

Patterns in the wave foam

Patterns in the wave foam

Hackley Bay doesn’t normally have a waterfall here…it’s usually just a wee trickle out of a drain.

Waterfall at Hackley Bay

Waterfall at Hackley Bay

A couple of sleepy slavonian grebes and a scaup were taking refuge on the Sand Loch.

Sleepy slavonian grebes (and a mallard!)

Sleepy slavonian grebes (and a mallard!)

Diving scaup. It is, honestly!

Diving scaup. It is, honestly!

A lot of curlew are on the move just now. They may have been forced off coastal feeding areas by the storms.

Curlew

Curlew

But there are signs of spring…the fulmars are back on the cliffs already, establishing territories in advance of the breeding season. Seems optimistic in light of the weather forecast….but we’ll see if next week brings the snow that’s been forecast….

Fulmars on cliff

Fulmars on cliff

What you looking at? This is my spot. The fulmars are establishing territories on the cliffs.

What you looking at? This is my spot. The fulmars are establishing territories on the cliffs.

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