A day in the life of a reserve assistant..

My name is Simon Ritchie, and I am on a 12 month placement with Scottish Natural Heritage. I work as a Reserve Assistant on all 3 Grampian National Nature Reserves:  St Cyrus, Forvie and Muir of Dinnet.


Hackley Bay at Forvie



I split my time up between these 3 reserves on a Rota, normally I do two reserves two days a week and one reserve one day a week. Meaning that my time is all shared equally! It’s great working as a Reserve Assistant, every single day is different. You never know what to expect when you come to work.

Take this week for example…


Looking towards the cliffs at St Cyrus



On Monday, I was working at St Cyrus. The main objective for the day was to do our monthly WeBS survey (Wetlands Bird Survey). Which consists of heading to our bird hide 2 to 3 hours before high tide and recording which species you see.


WeBS count with Michael

It was quite a successful count with usual species such as Lapwing, Wigeon, Curlew, Oystercatchers and a large array of gull species.


In total we had 88 Common Gull, 37 Black Headed Gull, 90 Herring Gull and 9 Great Black Backed Gulls!



Oystercatcher in the distance


Buzzard sitting on a log


‘Ritchie’s Boat’ – Not sure of the history…certainly nothing to do with me!

On Tuesday I went to Forvie. Now doing my job you certainly don’t know what to expect most of the time and this was one of these days. There were reports of a buoy that was washed up on hackley bay. We decided to investigate.


The Buoy washed up on Hackley bay.

This is the culprit, unfortunately it was filled with polystyrene which was degrading and blowing off into tiny pieces. So we tried our best to get rid of most of it before the tide cut us off. It certainly was good weather to be out…


Collecting rubbish while we are here!


Beautiful winters day, until it started snowing…


This old fish box also washed in with the recent storms!

I was at Muir of Dinnet on Wednesday which consisted of a patrol around the lochs, counting birds and a check of the mink rafts that we have not been able to get to, due to the high waters!


Loch Kinord still frozen on the South Shore!


Nice winters day for a walk around the Lochs!


Goldeneye pair on Loch Kinord


Greylag Goose Gathering

Loch Davan also looked busier than average, this is probably due to the fact the outer parts of the Loch is frozen, meaning that all the birds are congregating in the middle.


Loch Davan looking grey and atmospheric with some pinkies incoming


Mixture of Whooper and Mute swans in the distance!


Nothing sounds like winter as much as the honking of whoopers!


Mallard Madness

I also went out to look/repair the remains of the mink rafts…


This mink raft is missing a tunnel..



Monodavan burn

So as you can see, these are the snippets of my working days. Every day is different, who knows what I will be doing tomorrow. All that I know, is that it will be enjoyable and rewarding. Just like everyday at work.

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