Earth Day at Forvie

April 22nd 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  In normal circumstances, the event would pass many of us by, assuming just another marketing gimmick or label to hang on a fleeting social media post.  This year across the world however, we are being slowed in our tracks, kept inside and encouraged to go about our daily lives in a different manner.  I am taking the opportunity to think locally about Forvie of course, but importantly also the links that bind us to the rest of the planet.

Earth Day campaigners

Back in 1970 in the United States of America, a staggering 20 million citizens took part in protests demanding change to the way the environment was often mistreated and disregarded by industry and politicians.  As a result of the original Earth Day and campaigns by ordinary people in nearly 200 countries worldwide since, laws have been passed and government agencies established to protect nature, reduce pollution and encourage us all to understand the effects our actions can have.  Even with amazing technology and invention, the fundamentals remain that we still need clean water, clean air and food if humans are to survive and thrive.  Protecting wild sites helps with things like reducing nitrates in drinking water, releasing oxygen to the atmosphere from plants or providing habitat for crop pollinators.

Pollinator at work ©Lorne Gill/SNH

Recreation in outdoor areas has never been valued so much by those able to get out from home and even in usual times, is a vital tool in our nationwide battle against the health and wellbeing crises. This has long been our balancing act at Forvie, to encourage visitors by providing paths and facilities, while informing people about the reserve’s special features and all the time ensuring the nature that depends on the site can continue to live and raise young.

If you are unable to visit the reserve, rest assured there are also less immediate benefits you could be deriving from Scotland’s national nature reserves and other protected sites.

The economic benefit to Scotland from the country’s natural assets has been calculated, from fishing and timber production, which create profit and jobs, to our plants removing particles from the air, saving over £50 million in health costs for heart and lung disease. 

Nearly half of all medicines currently in use are derived from natural sources, including aspirin from willow bark and the anti-cancer drug Taxol, from yew trees. How many more are yet to be discovered, from the ever diminishing rain forests or right under our feet at Forvie? Pharmacologists at Robert Gordon University are currently investigating Scottish plants for just such reasons.

While restricted to home, I am enjoying the photography, art and even music that is being inspired by nature just now.  There is still time to enter ‘In Tune with Nature’ and submit a song or composition for Forvie.  For a bit of fun, here is what Vincent van Gogh may have made of Forvie if he had swapped the south of France for north east Scotland!

Forvie photo with filter applied from

The original Earth Day called for our benefits from the natural world to be protected by governments and industry, but today the small ways you can help may add up to just as much.  One of the campaigns for Earth Day is to help gather information through Earth Challenge 2020 and all you need is a mobile device. It’s very simple, you just take a photo of any plastic litter you see or the sky, to assess air quality, wherever you are.

Other ideas, which we do at the Forvie office are to #MakeSpaceforNature, by planting wildflowers, or even simpler, allowing daisies and dandelions to grow before we cut the grass.  Bees and butterflies can get more nectar from a dandelion than the flowers in most wildflower seed mixes!

Wildflowers at the Forvie Centre

We also follow the rules of Refuse (don’t buy it!) Reuse (plastic items reclaimed from the beach), Reduce (share items with other reserves) and Repair (Daryl is a whizz with a screwdriver) before we even Recycle.

Take part in surveys, pick up litter on your daily exercise if safe to do so, always have a shopping bag in the car and look at the things you buy.  Ask yourself if they are needed, sustainable, local or plastic-free.

Last week’s blog showed us the joys of creating a wildlife garden, so could you put up a bird, bat or bee box, a squirrel feeder or install a bird bath or even a small pond? I have a bird feeder outside the window of my top floor flat, which is enough to bring in blue tits, robins and a noisy great spotted woodpecker!

Blue tits from my window, the woodpecker is camera shy!

It may be my job to look after Forvie, but it is the duty of all us to care for our home, planet Earth.  Happy Earth Day everyone, enjoy the natural sights and sounds wherever you are!

#StayHomeSaveLives #StaySafe

‘Micro-patching’: extreme garden birdwatching!

My better half and I moved into our house on the edge of Forvie NNR in November 2009, at the onset of the coldest winter for four decades. Our new property included a modest but not insignificant garden, typical of a mid-20th-century council house. In the interests of low maintenance, the former owners had liberally covered the garden with no less than 16 tons of pink granite gravel, which was occasionally sprayed with weedkiller. Otherwise there were three small lawns (immaculately mown), some stunted shrubs (ruthlessly pruned) and a fine collection of gnomes and the like. It was neat and tidy, but absolutely no use for wildlife. This was all about to change.

Front garden, in spring 2020 – the formal bit, and therefore the least interesting for wildlife.

Now we’ve always been keen on our birding, and I am especially fond of working a ‘local patch’. However, the chance to own, improve and observe a tiny area of land – our ‘micro-patch’ as we call it – and to see what might turn up within it, was an exciting prospect. Being on the east-coast flyway, we were particularly keen to provide habitat for migrant birds making landfall here. Cue a frenzy of scrub- and tree-planting, pond construction and myriad small changes to accommodate wildlife.

At the present time, with important restrictions in place regarding travel and getting outdoors, the ‘micro-patch’ is getting more attention than ever. The aim of this article is to demonstrate that wherever you are, if you stay long enough in one place, and take care to look, listen and observe, it’s amazing what comes your way.

Hedge planted along the side of the property
Trees and shrubs now well established
The garden pond – home to a wide variety of wildlife

So what about the results then? Well, in the 10-and-a-bit years since moving in, we’ve recorded no fewer than 125 species of birds on or from the property. Plus lots of non-avian goodies to boot. Read on for the highlights reel.


This is the slightly cheating bit. Of course, the huge total of species includes fly-overs, and species seen or heard from the property, which don’t ever touch down here. So we can’t claim any credit for these in terms of our habitat improvements! Some of the best and most bizarre records in this category include White-tailed Eagle, Arctic Skua, Wood Sandpiper, Snow Bunting and Long-tailed Duck.

White-tailed Eagle – a proper massive ‘garden bird’

Residents and breeders

Our scrub-planting programme initially proved to be a war of attrition due to the harsh conditions and salt sea air. However, it soon bore fruit in the form of nesting Blackbirds, and after a few years of growth, Goldfinches as well. These days the nesting cover is so desirable that several pairs of Goldfinches fight it out for the territory each spring. This is massively rewarding for us, having provided the habitat. Build it and they will come.

Goldfinch surveying its territory

Meanwhile the feeding-station regularly hosts most of the ‘usual suspects’ – Blue and Great Tit, Chaffinch, Robin, Dunnock, House and Tree Sparrows and Starlings. Other familiar species are surprisingly scarce though – Song Thrush and Greenfinch are two that cause a dash for the binoculars here.

A fine male Chaffinch

Migrants and drop-ins

As hoped, quite a few species have dropped in during the last few springs and autumns, taking advantage of the cover and feeding opportunities provided by the garden. These range from routine migrants like Willow Warbler and Blackcap, to scarcities like Yellow-browed Warbler, Waxwing and Red-breasted Flycatcher. There’s nothing more exciting for the ‘micro-patcher’ than sitting at the window on an autumn morning, cup of brew in hand, wondering what might drop in next.

Waxwing eating apples in the garden
Yellow-browed Warbler in the willows

Bringing things right up to date, this week has seen our first Blackcap of the year bathing at the pond. Wonder what the next addition might be?…

Blackcap having a wash and brush up

Not all about the birds…

We’ve also enjoyed a good deal of success with non-avian wildlife. The pond is home to a wide variety of invertebrates, including egg-laying Large Red Damselflies last summer, as well as a thriving population of Palmate Newts, while Common Frogs and Common Toads are frequent visitors.

Large Red Damselflies egg-laying

Most of the locally-common butterflies have dropped in at some point – including a Small Tortoiseshell as I write this – and there have been some notable moth records as well. The best of these were arguably last summer’s Bedstraw and Convolulus Hawk-moths, while discovering Poplar Hawk-moth larvae in our willow trees was a real highlight, and a vote of confidence for our tree-planting activities!

Bedstraw Hawk-moth – a rare migrant from the south
Poplar Hawk-moth caterpillar

In summary, then…

The idea of this piece wasn’t to bang on about what a great garden we’ve got; although we’re very proud of it, it’s actually a very ordinary little piece of ground. The real point is that wherever you are, there can be a surprising amount of wildlife interest in a small area, if you take care to observe what’s going on around you. At this present time, when we’re all stuck at home most of the day, this is more important than ever. Why not start collecting observations of your own – in doing so, you can even contribute to our knowledge of wildlife by sending your sightings to your local records centre (in our case NESBREC). Or check out this one for a national recording scheme.

The second point is that it’s not difficult to accommodate wildlife in your gardening regime, and the results can be seriously rewarding, if worryingly addictive. We’ve got more plans in the pipeline concerning nest-boxes, berry-bearing shrubs and habitat heaps, while we’re still dreaming about what rarity might drop in next. See what you can make of your own ‘micro-patch’ – it comes highly recommended.

An ode to the humble sparrow

I hope you’re all staying sane after another week of being confined within four walls. Here at your author’s house we’ve at least got the garden to distract us and prevent us going totally bonkers. Now over the years we’ve been lucky enough to see a wide variety of wildlife here, including some weird and wonderful migrant insects and birds among other things (our coastal location means you never quite know what’s going to turn up next – more on that next time). But of all the species that visit us here, there’s one that most of us will have in common, wherever we are.

It’s the humble House Sparrow. Its scientific name is Passer domesticus – literally ‘the sparrow of the house’, thereby making it one of the few species with a truly sensible name in both Latin and English. It’s been associated with human habitation for as long as anyone can remember, thriving wherever we thrive.

Male House Sparrow

In Orkney, the ancient settlement of Skara Brae still has House Sparrows living in gaps in the stone walls of the dwellings. They happily go about their business oblivious to the hordes of tourists visiting the world-renowned site, and lend a lively atmosphere to the place long after the last human residents moved out. It’s nice to think that the same species may have been occupying the same spaces thousands of years ago, when Skara Brae was still a functioning community. Back then, they would have benefited from the people’s building works (for shelter and nesting sites) and their food scraps (for winter sustenance). Their relationship with humans is not so very different today.

Skara Brae – House Sparrow habitat!

It wasn’t always one-way traffic in terms of the birds exploiting humans though. Unsurprisingly, people exploited the birds too. Years ago, sparrow pie was frequently eaten in rural areas of Britain, and there is a record as recently as 1967 of a pie containing no fewer than 100 sparrows being served at the Rose Inn, Peldon, Essex. This seems utterly unthinkable today – not only have our tastes changed, but House Sparrows are very much scarcer as well (having been adversely affected by changes in agriculture and building practice), and are thankfully now protected by law.

Perhaps by way of revenge for such gastronomical crimes, a House Sparrow was reported to have burned down a house in Saxmundham, Suffolk, in 1960. Apparently the bird carried a lit cigarette stub up to its nest in the roof of the thatched property, and disaster ensued. Now that would have been an interesting one for the insurers.

Twisted firestarter?

When I was a lad (i.e. a handful of years ago), I, along with most other children, knew the nursery rhyme featuring the sparrow:

Who killed Cock Robin?

I, said the Sparrow,

with my bow and arrow,

I killed Cock Robin.

Though somewhat unfortunate for the sparrow in this case – giving it a bit of a bad name – it is one of a number of cultural references to the House Sparrow, some of which stretch back as far as Biblical times. The Venerable Bede made mention of the species in the 7th Century, one of the earliest recorded references in UK history.

A cultural icon!

Back at our house, male House Sparrows, with their neat black bibs, are known as Kenny Cockbirds. This stems from your uber-nerd author’s boyhood interest in the railways, where as a youth he encountered a locomotive named Kenny Cockbird, bearing a distinctive sparrow motif. The stylised bird is recognisably a House Sparrow, with the addition of waistcoat and cap, and was the emblem of Stratford Depot in East London, back in the days of British Rail. The depot has long since been razed to make way for the Olympic stadium; the diesel loco in question survives in preservation; but the point is that our affection for the House Sparrow remains, and it retains a special place in our hearts and culture.

The Stratford ‘Cockney Sparra’

Even in popular music, the sparrow still rates an occasional mention. Who could argue with Phil Daniels, the chirpy voice-over guy in Blur’s ‘Parklife’?

I feed the pigeons; I sometimes feed the sparras too. It gives me a sense of enormous wellbeing.

Agreed. Clearly Phil likes being connected with nature too. We just have to hope that he’s feeding the birds in his own garden just now.

Dad feeding the kids

Every year at Forvie, we share the office buildings with House Sparrows. They nest in the gaps under the roofing slates, keeping us company with their chirruping and arguing, and occasionally startling us when they emerge from the roof at the same time as one of us enters or leaves via the office door. Nearby at home, we’re fortunate enough to host up to 50 House Sparrows at a time in our garden, and they constantly delight us with their displaying, posturing and squabbling, set against a chorus of cheerful chirping.

You looking at me?

At a time when our own social lives are temporarily and necessarily curtailed, we can still enjoy the lively social life of this most familiar species. Wherever you are, you probably don’t have to look far to find House Sparrows, even if you wouldn’t normally even notice them. But this humble, unassuming bird is well worth a second look.

Confined to quarters? No problem.

Part of the purpose of the Forvie blog, when it was set up during the long hot summer of 2019, was to bring the Reserve and its wildlife to the people. Anyone that couldn’t actually visit the Reserve, whether through geographical distance, lack of transport or any other issues, could still enjoy it and be part of it via these pages.

Now, in the spring of 2020, we all find ourselves in that situation, with everyone effectively confined to quarters at home for the time being – so we’ll try our best to give you your fix of wildlife, maybe a bit of education and hopefully some entertainment as usual. We’ll start off with a summary of what’s happening locally in the natural world, combined with things you can look out for from the comfort of your own home, allowing you to remain connected with nature while still complying with the very necessary restrictions. Here we go…

1. Plants waking up

Across the Reserve and local area in recent times, we’ve been seeing gradual signs of the flora springing into life. Trees and shrubs are putting on fresh buds and leaves, bringing a welcome splash of colour to the bleached, monochrome landscape of late winter. If you have a garden, or even a window with a view of the street outside, chances are that if you look out just now, you too will be able to detect similar signs.

Willow catkins
Elder in fresh leaf
Rowan buds just opening
Flowering Currant – a naturalised species that’s a great early source of nectar
The humble Dandelion – another important nectar source for early-emerging insects

2. Early insects

We’ve already had reports of, or seen first-hand, the first emerging insects of the spring. These include bumblebees as well as colourful butterflies such as Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell. If your view from home takes in any flowering plants, keep half an eye out for one of these early risers topping up on sugar-rich nectar, or basking in a warm sunny spot like a wall, fence or patio.

Small Tortoiseshell

3. Migrant birds

It’s bird migration season as well. The first Sandwich Tern was reported by a local resident back on the Ythan Estuary in the week, but you don’t have to be out and about to spot migration in action. For example, our garden hosted a Chiffchaff last weekend – a summer visitor from the south – while winter visitors, like Whooper Swans and Pink-footed Geese, continue to depart to the north. If you can see some sky from your window, see if you can spot a skein of northbound geese, or if you’re really lucky, a family party of swans on their way back to Iceland for the summer.

Whooper Swans in flight
Pink-footed Geese on the move

4. Nest builders

If you’re fortunate enough to have a garden with some tree or shrub cover – or you overlook such habitat – you might see some construction work going on. Our garden on the edge of the Reserve currently has a couple of species prospecting. A pair of Blackbirds are beadily eyeing the thick cover of the Privet bushes, while two pairs of Goldfinces are squabbling over the Flowering Currant, a prime nest site. It won’t be long before they’re busily ferrying beakfuls of moss and grass into their new residences.

Female Blackbird rummaging around for nesting material
Goldfinch eyeing up a potential nest site

5. Water life

If your garden has a pond, this is likely to be a hive of activity just now. Many water creatures – invertebrates, amphibians etc – will be waking up from their winter dormancy, and gearing up for the forthcoming months of long daylight hours and increased temperatures. And that means breeding time! Frogs are a great example, with some ponds already dense with frogspawn.

Frogs, in the process of making more frogs

So although we may not be able to visit the Reserve for the next wee while, there’s no reason to lose touch with nature. Wherever you are, you have a chance to see some of the things mentioned in this article from your own home. We’ll post some more home-wildlife-watching features soon – so in the meantime stay home, stay well and stay connected with nature!

Forvie’s Wintering Twite

Today we welcome back guest blogger and ace photographer Ron Macdonald, who takes us on a tour through the dunes of South Forvie, where we encounter one of the Reserve’s lesser-known inhabitants. Over to you Ron…

Come with me today, as we take a walk by the estuary side and towards Forvie spit where we find the UK’s largest haul-out of Grey Seals. But it’s not the seals which we have come to see but a LBJ – a Little Brown Job of a bird called a Twite that winters here amongst the wind blown sand that blasts the sparse coastal vegetation.

Our walk takes us past 3 Hut Circles but there’s more buried underneath Forvie’s shifting sands. All the huts have the entrance on the east side which means they get the early morning sun and maybe like today, they were sheltered from the prevailing south westerly winds which often bring rain. They’re from the late Bronze or early Iron Age (1800-3000BC) and have been here unchanged through the millennia. Puts one’s own short life into perspective, doesn’t it?

As we pass the huts, Skylarks announce spring, singing their wee hearts out, flying high in a towering flight then fluttering to the ground in their typical display flight.  

The landscape gradually changes from heath and Marram-covered dunes to larger areas of bare sand interspersed with shingle terraces. Daryl and the Reserve’s volunteers are busy erecting the fence around the ternery which hopefully will safeguard the eggs and chicks from Foxes that are attracted by the ready meals on offer.  Soon the area will be closed off to the public allowing the terns and the neighbouring colony of Black-headed Gulls to breed free from disturbance by people and hopefully Foxes. 

But before that we have a chance to observe the 40 Twite feeding in front of us. They’re nervous, continuously landing and taking off, performing large arcs in the sky as they wheel around, briefly touching down on the shingle beds before they’re soon up again. 

It’s not long before we see the reason for their jittery behaviour as a Sparrowhawk flies low over the dunescape using the tufts of Marram grass as cover to surprise any unwary bird. This time the stealth approach is unsuccessful but it will be back.

The Twite that winter here breed in North West Scotland, not on the coast but in the hills and uplands of Ross-shire, Caithness and Sutherland.  We know that through the efforts of the Grampian Ringing Group who ring a sample of birds each year. They’ve never trapped a foreign ringed Twite or had a bird ringed on Forvie retrapped on the Continent. 

The moniker LBJ is a bit unfair. Yes they do look nondescript when you see them in the distance but close up their yellow bill and subtly brown and tan streaked plumage is very attractive. 

It’s time to head back via Forvie’s wild east shore where the full force of the North Sea breaks on the sandy shore. As we climb the last dune ridge and drop onto the beach there’s another patch of shingle. Surprise surprise as 11 Snow Buntings flit in front of us, not that bothered by our presence. 

Trundling along the shoreline we keep an eye open for terms as it won’t be long now before Sandwich Terns return to Forvie. As I write (16 March) the first one was reported this weekend off the Black Isle in Highland Region. 

All photographs in this blog post (c) Ron Macdonald. Thanks Ron!

Living the shingle life

Over the last week, we’ve been spending a fair bit of time down at the ternery, getting the electric fence ship-shape and ready for the returning birds. This involves a lot of heads-down work – guy-roping and pegging, weighing down the bottom of the fence with rocks, and making all the fine adjustments necessary for a good strong fence. Which of course will help to determine whether or not the terns and gulls have a successful breeding season in 2020.

One of the joys of this particular job – at least on the days when the weather isn’t trying to drown you – is that you tend to see a fair bit of wildlife. Because you’re often working quietly and keeping relatively still, the other inhabitants of the Reserve tend to go about their business and ignore you.

Snow Bunting

A good example of this was the little flock of Snow Buntings that accompanied me around the fence on Monday. These confiding little birds breed scarcely in Scotland on the highest mountains, though the ones that spend the winter at Forvie are more likely to be immigrants from Scandinavia. They pick through the sand and shingle, looking for tiny seeds to eat, and occasionally squabbling among themselves with a quiet rasping or chuckling voice. They always brighten up a cold day.

Spot the bird!

Moving on, and on another patch of shingle, a soft whistle betrayed the presence of a Ringed Plover. See if you can spot it in the above photo – solution at the end of this post! Even zoomed-in, these beautifully-camouflaged little waders aren’t easy to spot. They’re perfectly adapted for life on the shingle.

The following, like many photos on this blog, were taken with the phone camera through the binoculars.

Zooming in – see it?
A bit closer still…
There it is!

Meanwhile, over on the estuary, we were treated to views of an Iceland Gull. This is our second record this winter of this rare species from the north, having previously noted one a few weeks back. However, this clearly wasn’t the same one – the previous bird was an adult, while this one was a first-winter – i.e. in the first winter of its life, having been hatched in 2019. The rather coarsely-patterned, milky-coffee-coloured plumage, combined with the bill pattern, help us to establish its age. In a winter when these birds have been really scarce, this was an unexpected treat.

Fetch the binoculars and phone again…
Iceland Gull (centre) with Herring and Common Gulls
Milky-coffee plumage and ghostly white wings – a real beaut!

Speaking of gulls, the Black-headed Gulls are beginning to gather on the lower estuary. On Wednesday there were about 200 there, with a further 1,500+ scattered along the estuary upstream. It won’t be long until the colony is occupied again, and South Forvie will resound to their raucous calls until early August.

Gulls gathering!

The week ended with a fabulously calm and sunny day, and it even felt warm for a while (no, really!). It really has been a super few days to be out and about; long may it continue – but I wouldn’t bet my binoculars on it!

A fine spring day at the Forvie Centre

Finally, here’s the solution to the ‘Spot The Ringed Plover’ contest from earlier on. Well done to anyone who got it first time around – you’re a birding ninja and I’m seriously impressed, if a bit worried for your sanity.

Dynamism and Olympic fencing

We really know it’s spring here at Forvie when we start work at the ternery in preparation for the bird breeding season. If you read a recent post on this blog, you’ll know that preparatory work started in February to clear the ternery of last year’s dead vegetation prior to the birds returning. Since then, things have shifted up a gear, and we’ve got the first phase of the fencing work done.

When I say fencing, I don’t mean rapiers and all that stuff – we’re talking electric fencing here, though it’s certainly an Olympic-sized task. When finished, the electric fence will help to prevent predators like Foxes and Badgers accessing the bird colony and eating the eggs and young of the gulls and terns. It’s a crucial piece in the Forvie jigsaw.

Raised-beach shingle in South Forvie – great nesting habitat for terns
A flat-pack electric fence!

This year we owe a great debt of thanks to our dedicated band of regular volunteers, as well as SRUC’s Rural Skills group, all of whom put in a mighty shift getting the fencing gear lifted and shifted into position, and then assembled into something resembling a proper fence. It was a mammoth task, as it is every spring, but thanks to everyone’s efforts, a really good start was made. Luckily we had a fine day’s weather for the job!

Fencers hard at work
Beginning to take shape – time for a hard-earned brew!

One of the things that makes Forvie special is its dynamism. By that, I mean the landscape changes physically from year to year, as the wind and sea shift the sand around. The south end of the Reserve where the terns nest is an extremely dynamic environment, and its appearance can change quite dramatically from one year to the next. The prevailing wind direction here is southerly or south-westerly, meaning the sand chiefly blows from south to north – i.e. right to left in the photos above – and this makes life interesting for us in terms of maintaining the ternery fence. Here’s how the process works…

As the sand is blown northwards, the shingle beneath the sand is exposed. This is prime real-estate for nesting terns, so we try to enclose as much of it with the fence as possible. Over time, this exposed shingle is fertilised by the birds’ droppings, colonised by plants, and eventually covered over again. All the while, more shingle is getting exposed to the north. So there’s a strip of high-quality tern habitat gradually creeping northwards.

Unfortunately for us, the south end of the ternery – the bit favoured by the Sandwich Terns and Black-headed Gulls – remains fixed in its location, as it’s a bit more sheltered. So as the years pass by, the area that we enclose with the fence is gradually getting ‘stretched’, with the southern edge staying put, and the northern edge advancing ever northwards. In 2007, my first year at Forvie, we used 800 metres of fencing to enclose the area. This year, we’ve had to use 1,000 metres. Now that’s dynamism.

Lots of head-scratching – how to work around a dynamic environment?

It’s quite a thought that all the shingle visible in the above photo was covered over by sand until fairly recently. Interestingly, there are occasionally clues as to when a particular patch of shingle last saw the light of day, before being inundated with sand. Here are some of the ‘artefacts’ we found while putting the fence up…

A ‘Parozone’ bleach bottle – circa 1970s
A .50 calibre shell from a heavy machine-gun – circa World War II
A piece of worked flint – circa 4,000 years ago?

These items not only give us a glimpse into the history of the site, they also provide a vivid illustration of the physical changes that have taken place – and continue to do so – in the landscape of South Forvie. So although the dynamic landscape does create practical problems for us to solve – in terms of maintaining the fencing, and thus protecting the vulnerable wildlife within – it remains something to be celebrated. We’re lucky to have such a special landscape right here on our doorstep.