Spectacular year of ‘firsts’ for SNH

Grey seals at Forvie Nature Reserve
Grey seals at Forvie Nature Reserve

2019 was a spectacular year for Scottish Natural Heritage’s (SNH’s) nature reserves, including Forvie.

At Forvie, the UK’s oldest ever arctic tern was found: first ringed as a chick at Buddon Ness in Angus, the tern was discovered at the SNH nature reserve in Aberdeenshire and found to be 32 years old, almost to the day.

An average tern lives for only about 13 years.

Forvie also celebrated the grand achievement of 60 years as a national nature reserve this year.

The reserve is one of Scotland’s natural treasures, a place of stark beauty.

Covering almost 1,000 hectares, it is part of one of the most extensive sand dune systems in Britain and a haven for wildlife like breeding eider ducks, four species of terns, many waders and wildfowl, as well as grey seals.

For SNH 2019 also included the first-ever black grouse displaying at Beinn Eighe; a flowering of aspen trees at Muir of Dinnet for the first time in almost 25 years; a fifth record-breaking year for visitors to the Isle of May; and 300,000 walkers, cyclists and runners flocking to Loch Leven.

Black grouse are an endangered species, so their first-time appearance at Beinn Eighe - Scotland’s oldest national nature reserve - this spring was a significant sign of how the species is faring in the area.

The year got off to a remarkable start at Muir of Dinnet in early March with the flowering of aspen trees –the first time since 1996 for a large-scale aspen flowering in Scotland.

Stuart MacQuarrie, SNH’s Head of Nature Reserves, said: “Scotland’s national nature reserves are special places for wildlife.

“But they are also wonderful spots to visit, enjoy a spectacular view and catch sight of an elusive otter or amazing eagle.

“Making sure our nature is thriving is also part of the solution to the climate emergency. Our nature reserves are key to ensure we have a nature-rich future in Scotland.”