Ducklings provide welcome boost to goldeneye population

Ducklings provide welcome boost to goldeneye population
More than 25 goldeneye ducklings have been born at Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve in the Cairngorms (Laurie Campbell/PA)

Rare ducks that were at risk of local extinction have had a welcome boost to their population.

More than 25 goldeneye ducklings have been born at the NatureScot Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve in the Cairngorms this year, which has been hailed as the best return in more than a decade.

There are just 200 breeding pairs in the UK, the vast majority of which are in the Highlands.

Measures were taken in 2021 to reduce disturbance from recreational activity on the reserve’s Loch Kinord, with members of the public asked to stay off the water during the breeding season.

Goldeneye ducks had failed to breed in recent years due to disturbances caused by people using canoes, kayaks and paddle-boards on the loch.

NatureScot said the initiative has helped Goldeneye bounce back from just one brood and four ducklings in 2020.

Simon Ritchie, NatureScot’s reserve manager at Muir of Dinnet, said: “We are elated to have so many young fledge.

“These specialist ducks have been declining locally in recent years, so this is a real boost to the population.

“Because of this, we worked closely with stakeholders, including recreational users, ornithologists, the Cairngorms National Park, and Dinnet and Kinnord Estate to put in place access guidance on Loch Kinord to reduce impacts in the crucial summer months.

“This has had a massively positive impact on our breeding birds, especially our goldeneye population, and we would like to thank everyone for following the access guidance.

“Together, we are helping conserve an iconic Scottish rarity from local extinction.”

Murray Ferguson, director of planning and place at Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve is a very popular place for visitors to enjoy nature.

“We’re pleased to have worked closely with NatureScot and local land managers over the last few years. This includes deploying our park authority ranger team to help with the management for visitors, putting new parking arrangements in place and advising on the new guidelines about public access to the lochs.

“We are delighted to see that goldeneye on the loch are now breeding more successfully and that the measures to manage disturbance from recreation are working well.

“Many thanks to everyone for following the guidelines. We are sure there are lessons to be learned here that can be applied to other parts of the national park in due course.”

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