Kinnordy will have its habitat restored

Knoik ponies will be used for grazing
Knoik ponies will be used for grazing

The unique habitats at Loch of Kinnordy will be restored thanks to funding from the Angus Environmental Trust, under the Landfill Communities Fund.

The project will benefit a number of rare and endangered species, which are dependent on the reserve’s natural systems.

Simon Busuttil, RSPB East Scotland Reserves Manager said: “Loch of Kinnordy is a very special place – the richest and most complex wetland in Angus.

“It is a truly beautiful place at any time of year – always full of birds and other wildlife. We are grateful to Angus Environmental Trust and the Kinnordy Estate; we simply could not afford to do this vital work without their support.”

The project involved cutting and removing areas of floating bogbean, an emergent plant within the loch, to make a series of smaller islands, rather than one large patch.

It is hoped that this will make it more attractive to a large breeding colony of black-headed gulls, a noisy and characteristic feature of Loch of Kinnordy.

Surrounding the loch are areas of rich, wet fen, home to water voles and lapwings, both of which are listed as priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

These areas have not been grazed for many decades and, as a result, patches of willow trees have grown over much of it, shading out the other important plants.

This project has helped to restore the fen to favourable condition through the clearance of approximately six hectares of willow scrub and the implementation of a grazing regime over an area of approximately thirty hectares.

The tussocky Juncus vegetation will be grazed by Koniks, a species of hardy pony adapted to feeding on rough vegetation and on wet ground, meaning they are well suited to the conditions at Loch of Kinnordy.

The breed is descended from the Tarpan horse, which roamed Britain in prehistoric times but died out in the wild around sixty years ago. Grazing by the Koniks will significantly improve the structure and species composition of the lowland fen habitat and will improve conditions for breeding waders such as lapwings.

Much of the work has been undertaken using specialist contractors. The bogbean restructuring work required a specialist piece of equipment, called a Truxor, which had to be imported from Sweden. The Truxor is the only one based in Scotland and can now be used to benefit nature reserves elsewhere in the country.