Coming out of hibernation

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Coming out of hibernation

The short answer is not a lot, but changes are afoot. Jean Burns has taken over as Group Leader, while Aileen Fox remains on committee as our Fundraiser extraordinaire! We are pleased to welcome Amanda Thomson as our webpage editor and hopefully you will soon see more regular articles and updates appearing, now that we can return to our volunteering roles. We are delighted to have a new treasurer on board too.

We held our AGM at Loch Garten on 19 October 2021, which was very successful – a quick AGM and updates from staff. There is so much exciting work happening on the reserve, and we will share this with you when we can. The reserve volunteer day was well attended and was a good mix of practical work (I opted for ring barking) and going out with Richard, the conservation manager, to see the cattle and how they are being managed using technology (definitely a topic for a news article).

The group was very much restricted in what activities we could run or get involved with last year. The first activity volunteers could return to was the tree nursery, which always needs attention. A group of vols have put in a sterling effort and the tree nursery is looking very healthy with downy willow seedlings beginning to pop up. These were from seed collected in the high montane of the Cairngorms, which FAB funded. They grow very slowly and will be planted out at appropriate locations on the reserve which covers a large area up strath Nethy to part of Ben Macdui beyond Cairn Gorm.

Being a local community group, we are asked to help in many different ways. Earlier this year Cairngorms Connect ask for help transporting willow saplings up and over Cairn Gorm down to Loch A’an, where contractors planted them out. As it was the first gathering since lockdown, lunch beside the loch was very sociable with volunteers and staff catching up. I cannot deny that the climb up and over with a harness full of saplings was hard work, but very satisfying.

Cairngorms Connect also looked to FAB to support a visitor survey for the Capercaillie Project. A small team of FAB vols took survey cards out to locations such as Loch Mallachie, Ryvoan Bothy and had lots of interesting conversations with locals and visitors alike, and were able to spread the word through our own networks. The survey has now closed and we await the analysis, but the first indications are that it will produce useful insight not only for RSPB, but also for the other partners involved, Forestry & Land Scotland and Rothiemurchus Estate.

We have an ongoing fundraiser on JustGiving – RSPB Friends of Abernethy/Climb Every Munro. Although we didn’t publicise the fundraiser this year, Munros have been climbed totalling 31 to date, just 251 to go! We will have a big push next year when I hope to achieve 70 by 70. So I will need all the help and support possible. This of course is to enable us to support the reserve. This year we are supporting funding for an all terrain wheelchair to allow better access to Loch Garten for less able visitors.

I leave you with a cheery robin, which one of our talented volunteers refurbished last winter and which has been out at a local visitor attraction over the summer months. (Apologies if the robin is on its side, I am unable to delete, rotate and resave. The original is correctly showing the robin in portrait, maybe it will correct itself when published!)

Jean Burns
Group Leader