We normally undertake a count of the fish eating birds in December but with the high water all winter it was late February before reasonable water levels and staff availability made the count possible. Roger and myself canoed the stretch from Craigellachie to the sea, which was an exciting trip to say the least! The remainder of the river, from Aviemore downstream, was counted through a combination of driving and walking.
The Feb 2016 goosander count is shown in the graph below. In total 153 goosander were counted, down from the 311 in Oct 2015. Most of the goosanders were located in the lower river (as is normally the case).
Numbers of other piscivorous were low with 9 cormorants and 1 merganser counted. Although the goosander count was well down from the October high; which is the time of year when the scandinavian migrants arrive, it was still high in comparison to previous winner counts, albeit they were generally completed in December.
We normally do an early spring count in March, which means soon. This will be close to the February count but that will provide an indication of the variability between counts.
Whilst counting the fish eating birds we also note any goldeneye, that lovely freshwater duck which are so prevalent on the Spey.