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Caithness Bird News
Caithness Bird News
Wading birds in the Brough area of Caithness will now have a better chance at nesting at St John's Pool thanks to the efforts of a group of local Countryside Volunteers, Highland Council Countryside Rangers and Army Cadets.
Weather: south east force 4-5, rain now ceased but 'cool' things didn't look too promising for a productive day's work. However, by 10.30 and despite the conditions, a hardy bunch of ten volunteers had assembled at St. John's. The mission to assemble two 8 foot square nesting platforms from wood and metal, transport them to the pool and install before dark or hypothermia set in! The platforms, raised two to three feet above water give complete security to ground nesting birds, from foxes and other mammalian predators.
With all materials laid out and dynamic direction from technical support (thanks Paul), the project quickly took shape and by the first (much needed) tea break, both platforms had their scaffolding and wooden bases assembled.
Part two was when the real fun began and what little sun there had been, disappeared. The design necessitated pile-driving the four vertical scaffolding supports into the mud while other volunteers kept the sub-frame lined up. The wooden frame was then laid over the top and the planks cut and screwed down so the verticals poked through the wooden base to give added rigidity. Both these impressively simple) structures were installed before a heartily warming lunch beckoned. Afterwards the finishing touches were made and the project was all wrapped up by 5pm. With just the gravel to spread on the platforms, everything is now sure to be ready for the terns' arrival in early May.
The team also built wooden tern shelters to allow chicks to hide from any attack from birds above and these will be placed on the platforms, gravel beds and islands around the pool. Numbers painted on the shelters will help visitors to the nearby John Corbett memorial bird hide locate and check progress of young birds as they hatch.
The John Corbett memorial hide is at the pool so that anyone wishing to can watch the many birds, otter and roe deer that visit the site in relative comfort and without disturbing the wildlife. St John's Pool is off the road on the north side of St. John`s loch about half a km. west of the village of Brough.
If you are interested in finding out how the platforms and nest boxes help Arctic terns you can follow their progress, and all the other planned activities, by visiting the St. John's Pool website or even better, see it all first hand there's a grandstand view from the hide. It's open all year round and it's free.
Many thanks to everybody who took time out to make this project possible and for the much appreciated support from CSV Action Earth, Scottish Natural Heritage and all the Rangers.