Visitors to an Aberdeenshire nature reserve have been warned that taking part in watersports could result in the death of ducklings.
NatureScot is pleading with visitors to the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve to make sure they don’t disturb wildlife, particularly during a sensitive time of year for nesting birds.
The nature agency’s warning follows a recent upsurge in people going out on waters at Loch Kinord, part of the nature reserve just east of Ballater, on inflatable items, canoes and paddle-boards.
Catriona Reid, Muir of Dinnet reserve manager, said: “We want everyone to have a wonderful time visiting the reserve, but we’re asking visitors to remember that Muir of Dinnet is first and foremost a nature reserve and wildlife should take priority.
“If it’s busy, we’d ask those intending to go out on the water to go somewhere else at this sensitive time of year for breeding birds. It may seem that individually you’re doing nothing wrong, but put that together with a number of other people doing the same thing and suddenly it’s a severe disturbance problem for the birds.”
Reserve bosses say too many boats on the small loch can disturb protected wildfowl like goldeneye, and may lead to ducklings becoming separated from their parents and dying.
On dry land, visitors are also being told to take particular care around wildlife if they are walking their dogs.
Mrs Reid added: “Keep dogs at heel or on a lead in places such as moorland, forests, grasslands and shores to avoid disturbing birds that nest on or near the ground.”
Meanwhile Cairngorm National Park is investing more than £1 million in infrastructure and staffing as it. too, prepares for an influx of visitors once lockdown lifts.
To help address the issue of overcrowding and dangerous parking, Aberdeenshire Council will restrict entry to Glen Muick and the Linn o’ Dee on Deeside when necessary for seven months from this month, as restrictions are eased.
For more information on responsible outdoor access in Scotland, you can read the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.