Muir of Dinnet water access

31 March 2022

Visitors asked to avoid water sports at Loch Kinord to protect birds

NatureScot is asking people visiting the Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve – which receives about 80,000 visitors a year – to stay off Loch Kinord at this sensitive time of year for breeding birds.

To avoid disturbing birds at this internationally important site for nature, people are being urged to stay off the water until after the 31 August, when the bird breeding season is over.

There has been a sharp rise in the number of people going out on the water in canoes, kayaks, inflatables and paddle-boards. Human activity on this small loch can disturb protected wildfowl like goldeneye, a globally threated species which has suffered severe population declines, and may lead to ducklings becoming separated from their parents and dying.

Monitoring data shows that early morning bird counts on the loch are significantly higher than those taken later in the day when visitors are present on the water. Following discussions with stakeholders, including recreational users, expert advice from ornithologists and support from Cairngorms National Park as the access authority, changes to the water access guidance were introduced last summer and this made a positive difference.

Gavin Clark, Tayside & Grampians operations manager, said:

“We want everyone to have a wonderful time visiting the reserve, but we're asking people to remember that Muir of Dinnet is first and foremost a nature reserve, where we protect wildlife while balancing visitor needs.

“Individually, someone going out on the water may not be aware of any problem, but put that together with lots of other people doing the same thing and over time it adds up to a significant disturbance problem for the birds.

“Our evidence shows that by limiting water access we reduce disturbance and help to conserve important bird species. This is an important step to enhance our habitats to allow our water birds the very best chance to pair up and raise their young.

“We hope our visitors will understand and follow this guidance throughout the breeding bird season, and we thank people for enjoying our reserve responsibly.”

There are signs placed at all main entry points to the nature reserve, as well as information on NatureScot’s website explaining the water access guidance.

A similar request has been in place since 2009 at a second, smaller loch on the reserve, Loch Davan, because of bird disturbance and the potential for damage to sensitive habitats.

NatureScot is also asking visitors to be aware of wildlife and to be alert when walking dogs in nature reserves, or anywhere in the countryside. 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. For more information on responsible outdoor access in Scotland, see