Water and Ice

Finally, finally, we’ve seen some sun. It’s been a long time coming and much needed by a world still reeling from the worst flooding in our generation. We started the week as we finished the last one, still mostly underwater. The Kinord route was, and still is, impassable at the moment due to flooding on (mostly) the north and south shore. We’d advise against walking this route at the moment. 

Flooding, Kinord route

Flooding, Kinord route

There's not normally standing water here...

There’s not normally standing water here…

Flooding, near SEPA hut, south shore Kinord

Flooding, near SEPA hut, south shore Kinord

Flooding , south shore Kinord

Flooding , south shore Kinord

You don't need the waymarker to tell you it's flooded...

You don’t need the waymarker to tell you it’s flooded…

And more flooding...

And more flooding.

The car park was also half flooded on Monday. As of Friday, this has all turned to ice-take extreme care if visiting. 

Reflections of the car park....it's flooded too.

Reflections of the car park….it’s flooded too.

The dark skies were promising more rain on Tuesday. 

Birches against a dramatically dark sky

Birches against a dramatically dark sky

The wildlife hasn’t been finding all this wet weather easy either. The peanut feeder has been in high demand. 

Coal tit feeding frenzy

Coal tit feeding frenzy

But….some good news! As of Fri 15th Jan, we’ve been able to reopen the toilets. We’ll keep an eye on these, to see if the soakaway can cope with the still-high water table and public use, but we’re hopeful that it will. However, apologies in advance if it’s still too wet and we have to close them.

 Due to the lack of loos, I’ve been helping out at Forvie NNR. It couldn’t be more different to Dinnet, with 1000 hectares of sand dunes, cliffs, coastal heath and the Ythan Estuary. But it’s one of the best wildlife sites in the north-east of Scotland and the place where I started my conservation career, as a volunteer warden. This week has marked the start of summer at Forvie- work has begun to prepare the ternery for the birds returning from March onwards. 

Nettle stems in the ternery can put the birds off landing

Nettle stems in the ternery can put the birds off landing

Summer starts here....clearing the ternery for it's avian visitors later in the year

Summer starts here….clearing the ternery for it’s avian visitors later in the year

While heading for the ternery, we found this bench washed up on the beach. If it’s yours, contact the reserve office and they’ll be delighted to reunite you. 

A flooding arrival....bench washed up on the beach

A flooding arrival….bench washed up on the beach

We can only assume the floods were responsible for the arrival of another visitor to Forvie- a chainsaw carved red squirrel! 

An unexpected sighting of a red squirrel at Forvie....

An unexpected sighting of a red squirrel at Forvie….

I don’t think the robin quite knew what to make of him…. 

Redbreast and red squirrel...

Redbreast and red squirrel…

Forvie has a huge seal haul-out at the mouth of the Ythan, but you can find lone seals hauled out anywhere on the beach. They sometimes haul out right at the top of the beach, which can look alarmingly far from the sea. We often get calls about this but usually the seals will just be waiting for the tide to come to them at next high tide. It’s very rare that are actually ill or need any attention. 

A grey seal hauled out a long way up the beach

A grey seal hauled out a long way up the beach

Sunbathing- the dune faces the sun more than the flat beach!

Sunbathing- the dune faces the sun more than the flat beach!

One creature which did need rescuing was this guillemot. Like the little auks of a week back, it was exhausted and underweight after the storms. We’ve handed it to an animal rescue centre and hopefully it will be okay after food and a rest. 

A stranded guillemot

A stranded guillemot

The wind has carved the dunes into some fantastic shapes. 

Sand sculptures

Sand sculptures

Sand sculptures

Sand sculptures

Sand sculptures

Sand sculptures

Sand sculptures

Sand sculptures

This rock pipit was having a good rummage in the tideline debris for food. 

R'ipit....a rock pipit

R’ipit….a rock pipit

Once we made it back out to Dinnet, it was to a different world. There’s still a lot of water and the paths are still flooded, but everything is frozen or in the process of freezing. It’s a bit frustrating as it will slow the water draining away, but the snow does look beautiful. 

Sunrise from viewpoint

Sunrise from viewpoint

A lovely sunrise this morning

A lovely sunrise this morning

Snowy trees

Snowy trees

However, the cold weather comes with a warning for ice- all the wet places on the reserve will freeze. If you are walking, this will mean it’s very slippery or the ice could break and drop you into several inches of freezing water. We’re not advising the Kinord path for this reason and there are large puddles on other paths too. 

Path flooded. And icy.

Path flooded. And icy.

The ice is forming a "tideline" around the trees. At least the water is dropping!

The ice is forming a “tideline” around the trees. At least the water is dropping!

The snow has revealed overnight visitors.

Squirrel prints

Squirrel prints

Bird footprints

Bird footprints

And takeoff! You can see where the wing has brushed the snow.

And takeoff! You can see where the wing has brushed the snow.

Away from the lochs, the Vat path is passable but rough due to water damage. There has been a great deal of sand deposited in the Vat due to the floods. Mind, you, they’re not as impressive as Forvie’s sand dunes!

Ice sculptures in the splash zone

Ice sculptures in the splash zone

...and with the star filter on!

…and with the star filter on!

Erosion in action- piles of sand in the Vat

Erosion in action- piles of sand in the Vat

Sand dunes in the Vat

Sand dunes in the Vat

 

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