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01 August, 2023

Goldeneye breeding success at Muir of Dinnet

Goldeneye breeding success at Muir of Dinnet: Goldeneye duck ©Laurie Campbell Photography (one time use only in conjunction with this news release)

A bumper breeding season for rare goldeneye ducks is being celebrated at NatureScot’s Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve (NNR).

Goldeneyes are a protected species that have suffered severe population declines, with only around 200 breeding pairs in the UK, the vast majority being found in the Highlands of Scotland.

In an encouraging development, more than 25 young goldeneye have fledged at the reserve in the Cairngorms National Park this year – the best breeding return in more than a decade.

The good news follows measures taken at the reserve since 2021 to reduce disturbance from recreational activity on the reserve’s Loch Kinord, where visitors are asked to stay off the water during the breeding season.

The initiative has helped goldeneye bounce back from just one brood and four ducklings in 2020, before the measures were put in place.

Members of the public are being thanked for helping to protect and restore nature at this internationally important wildlife site.

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.

“One of the main factors in recent breeding failings has been disturbance by people going out on the water in canoes, kayaks, inflatables and paddle-boards. 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 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.”

See our website for further information on access guidance at Muir of Dinnet National Nature Reserve.


Contact information

NatureScot Media
0131 316 2655

Notes to editors

There are 43 National Nature Reserves in Scotland. These are special places that look after some of the best of Scotland’s nature on behalf of everyone who lives or visits Scotland, and they provide unique opportunities to visit, enjoy and learn more about Scotland’s nature. For more information, see:

NatureScot is Scotland's nature agency. We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

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Goldeneye duck ©Laurie Campbell Photography (one time use only in conjunction with this news release): Goldeneye duck ©Laurie Campbell Photography (one time use only in conjunction with this news release)

Goldeneye duck ©Laurie Campbell Photography (one time use only in conjunction with this news release)

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