Sunshine, rain and paint!

I’ll start this week’s post with the obvious bits in the title. Specifically, we’ve actually seen the sun here for the first time it what seems like ages. It was like someone had switched the lights on over the Reserve after a week of perpetual darkness.

Sunshine at the Forvie Centre – WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Reserve looking golden again, as opposed to grey
First shadow I’ve seen in over a week
But what’s that on the horizon?

However, it wasn’t long until that familiar pattering on the top of my head started again – no, not tern droppings, but rain. A half-hearted rainbow appeared on the horizon before the sun hid away again. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

A brief rainbow – while there was some sunshine to make one!

All the rain we’ve had in the last couple of months has certainly had an impact on the Reserve. We record water levels through a series of dipwells – basically long tubes sunk into the ground – and recently these showed a six-inch rise in groundwater levels within a week. We’re now starting to see plenty of standing water on the moor, especially along the Heath Trail footpath. If you’re planning on visiting us soon, wellies are advised for certain bits of the trails!

Seasonal pools now brim-full
Flood water next to the Heath Trail footpath
Great habitat for wetland species though!

Though we may not like having to put on our wellies, or splashing through ankle-deep, muddy water to go for a walk, some of the wildlife quite enjoys the wet stuff. It’s great feeding habitat for dabbling ducks like Mallard and Teal, and also for wading birds like Snipe. The latter are really well camouflaged, their plumage resembling the golden rushes and sedges where they hang out, and you often don’t see them until they take off from almost under your feet. At which point you usually fall on your backside in the flood.

A pair of Teal enjoying the floodwater

Anyway, now to the less obvious bit of the title. Earlier this week, somebody decided to randomly paint a massive boulder at Waterside saltmarsh with the Scottish flag. Now while none of us here have got a problem with the flag, what we DO have a problem with is people thinking it’s OK to paint bits of the Reserve as they see fit – it’s basically vandalism. So it had to go.

‘Graffiti’ visible from the coast road!
Absolutely massive up close!

So, what to do? We could paint it over with a neutral colour, but it might just get painted again afterwards. Besides, that would involve using more toxic petrochemicals on the Reserve, which we always try to avoid for obvious reasons. So we opted for a more ‘direct’ approach.

Step in two of our colleagues – Catriona from Muir of Dinnet, and ‘Mr Tirfy Wirfy’, our well-loved Tirfor winch (other brands are of course available). By carefully rigging Tirfy between the painted rock – which probably weighed between 1 and 2 tons – and a convenient tree, we were able to tip it over. And all with nothing more than a bit of old-fashioned muscle – no engines, no electricity and no chemicals. Job done.

Catriona and rock. Mr Tirfy Wirfy just out of shot.

At some point we’ll run a blog post comprised exclusively of things that people have done on our Reserves that they shouldn’t have. Believe me, some of it is utterly mind-boggling. All of us in Scotland have a degree of ownership of these special places, and we therefore owe it to each other to treat our National Nature Reserves with respect. Many thanks to all of you out there who do just that!