Cairngorm Wildlife Diary for 2007

by Allan Bantick

Unless otherwise explained all the badger sightings mentioned here were made at the Strathspey Badger Hide. If you would like to go, click here to email me.

Enjoy the diary and please do get in touch if you have any comments to make.

You can click here to email Allan or Heather

or phone 01479 831768 or 07787 323264

or write to
Cairngorm Wildlife, 23 Craigie Avenue, Boat of Garten
Inverness-shire PH24 3BL Scotland


Mon 1st Jan
1130 Went to the grebe car park and topped up the food. There was a red squirrel there when I arrived but no birds at all.
1530 Doug and I went to the badger hide for a look around. The camera showed pictures of two visits by the badgers on Hogmanay night at 0140 and 0507.

Tues 2nd Jan
1200 Built a new crested tit nest box
1530 Went to the badger hide to check the camera. Badgers had visited at 0245 and 0515. One picture showed two badgers together. Before leaving I found some fresh dung in a latrine at the upper sett.

Weds 3rd Jan
1500 Grebe car park - replenished the hazelnuts and an apple. Everything else still OK which means there is not much going on there.
1515 Checked white post latrine at Kincardine. Still no dung but some fresh digging.
1525 Checked camera at the hide. Badgers on the camera last night between 2301 and 2309 and between 0503 to 0512. I then checked the latrine above the fishing hut and found it had a few pieces of fresh dung in it and the path from it under the fence into the main field was like a motorway so obviously the badgers are active in this area. Looked for goldeneye duck but none to be seen. Don't blame them - the weather was foul.

Thurs 4th Jan
1500 Fixed Dawn's bird feeders and refilled them. Removed her squirrel feeder for repair.
1530 Replaced apple and hazelnuts at the grebe car park
1545 Checked the camera at the badger hide. Badgers visited 0040 to 0047 and 0536 to 0545.

Fri 5th
1000 Scottish Badgers meeting in Perth
1530 Bea went and fed the badgers for me. I'll check the camera tomorrow

Sat 6th Jan
0830 Fed birds at the grebe car park. Saw a crested tit and two red squirrels plus coal tits and a great tit.
1330 Bea and I checked some of the nest boxes still in the woods from last year. There was a dead blue tit in box one, box 13 was missing (?!) and boxes 2, 3,10,11 and 12 were as I last saw them.
1530 I went to the badger hide to check the camera, replace all the batteries and put out new food. On the night of 4th/5th Jan there were badgers at 0045, 0400, 0430 and 0545. On the next night there were badgers at 2030, 0130, 0415 and 0505.

Sun 7th Jan
1030 Replaced apples and hazelnuts at grebe car park. Very few birds about but I heard a crestie.
1100 Went to the river to look for goldeneye ducks. None to be seen.
1500 Went to the badger hide. The camera showed there were badgers around at 1816 to1825, then at 1919, then 0124, then 0204, then 0234, then 0434. All the sandwiches and peanuts were gone but the dog food was largely untouched.

Mon 8th Jan
2015 Badger hide on my own. Saw a badger briefly at 2040 and again at 2100. Tawny owl heard on the other side of the river.

Mon 8th Jan
2015 Badger hide on my own. Saw a badger briefly at 2040 and again at 2100. Tawny owl heard on the other side of the river.

Tues 9th Jan
0900 Grebe Car Park. I topped up the food and stayed to watch for a while. Several tits, including two crested tits, and three red squirrels. I was only a few yards from the feeders but the birds and squirrels did not seem to mind.
1500 Rothiemurchus Fish Farm. I watched a family of one male and six female goldeneye ducks feeding.
1545 Checked the camera at the badger hide. Badgers had visited at 1816, 1919, 0209 and 0434 on the night of 6th/7th Jan, at 1826, 0147, 0250, and 0423 on 7th/8th Jan and at 2203, 2354 and 0427 on 8th/9th Jan

Weds 10th Jan
1030 All day meeting of the Scottish Wildlife Trust in Edinburgh.

Thurs 11th Jan Foul weather all day.
1100 Topped up feeders at the grebe car park
1130 Checked the two goldeneye boxes at Milton Loch. One was empty and had a hole in it and the other contained nest material - sheep's wool and dry grass. Probably the work of jackdaws.
1530 Badger hide to check the camera. Badgers on the night of 9th/10th Jan at 0930, 2235, 0014, 0214, and 0302. No badgers at all last night 10th/11th Jan.

Fri 12th Jan
1000 Went to the badger hide. Put out more food for tonight's badgers. Put up the repaired green goldeneye box in a tree near the hide. Collected some barbed wire from a friend to wrap round the tree to deter pine martens.

Sat 13th Jan
1200 Milton Loch - repaired the hole in one of the goldeneye boxes, then went to the grebe car park feeding area and topped up all the food.
1430 Went to the badger hide in filthy weather and swapped the batteries and card in the camera for fresh ones. The last two nights we had badgers as follows:
11/12 Jan 1845, 2315 and 0434
12/13 Jan 1900, 0003, 0053 and 0348

Sun 14th Jan
1200 Bea and I rehearsed our Borneo talk in readiness for Tuesday
1400 Went to badger hide and put out fresh food.

Mon 15th Jan
0830 Went to grebe car park. Fixed up some new feeders and topped everything up.
1000 Went to the badger hide. Put barbed wire round a tree under a goldeneye box to try and keep pine martens out. Checked the camera and saw that badgers had been around on 13th Jan at 1750 and 2318 and on 14th Jan at 1741. Quite a marked change in behaviour compared with the early part of the month.

1400 Continued preparation for a visit by the BBC later this week. I have not mentioned it previously in case it all fell through but the production team and camera crew are flying up from Bristol on Wednesday so I guess it really will happen. The plan is to concentrate on my work with crested tits and goldeneye ducks with a bit about the badger hide for good measure. It's all a bit daunting but a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the marvellous wildlife of Boat of Garten and tell the world about our projects to help conserve it.

Tues 16th Jan
1000 Filled up feeders at grebe car park
1030 Checked the camera at the badger hide - there were badgers last night at 1804 and 0224. Filled up the bird feeder - one of the wires is broken and the nuts are well depleted at that end so may be the badgers have been up the tree again. Two blue tits gave me a thorough scolding so I checked the tit nest box - there is the basis of a nest in there but I cannot tell if it is left over from last year or new. I climbed the hill and selected a tree for another goldeneye box.
1930 Bea and I did a public lecture in the village hall about our trips to Belarus and Borneo. There were about 40 people there and a plentiful supply of wine so a good time was had by all.

Weds 17th Jan
1000 Went to the badger hide to check the camera and put out more food. There were badgers last night at 1815, 1923, 2111, 2142, 0003, and 0255. A busy night.

1230 Phone call from the BBC - the crew had arrived and wished to start filming straight away to take advantage of the good weather. They came up to the house for a bite of lunch and we then headed for the badger hide where we shot the sequences covering putting up goldeneye nest boxes. The crew comprised producer/cameraman Richard Taylor-Jones (know to some as TJ), presenter Mike Bilger and sound man Gary, plus another cameraman who we would meet later. The weather deteriorated in the afternoon and a blizzard ensued, raising worries about the next day's filming. In the evening we drove very slowly to Aviemore for dinner at Harkai's.

Thurs 18th Jan
0700 I went to the Craigie Wood feeding station to top up the food and rearranged the feeders before the crew came along at 0800. There was fairly deep snow everywhere and the birds responded by coming to the feeding station more often and in greater numbers that they might otherwise have done. So, far from being a problem the snow actually helped us. After shooting cresties and red squirrels we moved into the wood to film the crested tit nest box sequences.

Lunch was at our house again and then it was off to Rothiemurchus to film goldeneye duck. Graham had been there in his own all morning but had not had much luck. When we arrived - so did the goldeneyes. We really were on a roll and were able to film until the light failed. Dinner was in the Indian restaurant in Aviemore.

Fri 19th Jan
The crew had a plane to catch so they had a short session at the feeding station to get more red squirrel shots, then to Milton Loch for Bantick Poles and finally a few general views of the lovely sunny, snowy landscape before dashing to Inverness to catch their plane.

It was a wonderful experience for me but quite tiring and I spent the rest of Friday just relaxing. The producer seemed pleased with what he'd got so hopefully the final film will be good. It will go out probably on BBC 2 in the early evening around the middle of Feb. I'll post the details here once the BBC let me know.

Sat 20th Jan
1230 Posted the crested tit nest that we removed from box 11 yesterday during filming to Mike Hansell at the national nest box collection in Glasgow. Set up the new crested tit box near the grebe car park to replace the stolen box 13.
1500 Went to the badger hide and changed the card and batteries in the camera. There was a badger at 1810 on17th Jan, none on the 18th or 19th and one at 2235 on 20th at 0503.

Sun 21st Jan
Removed the camera from the badger hide

Mon 22nd Jan
1000 Filled the feeders at the grebe car park. The footprints in the overnight snow showed me what had been tidying up the spilled seeds from the bird feeders. Rabbits!
1200 Spent much of the rest of the day updating the BoGWiG website.

Tues 23rd Jan
1000 Took a new supply of bird food to the Community Garden, then went to Milton Loch in a blizzard - all the birds were sensibly hiding from the weather.
1130 Filled up all the feeders in our garden, then walked to the grebe car park and videoed crested tits and red squirrels. There were at least 2 different cresties and at 1230 I had four squirrels - one up in the tree, one eating peanuts, one eating apple and one eating coconut.

video of a crested tit feeding at the grebe car park

1400 A sparrow checked out the centre hole in the sparrow gallery on the garden shed.

Weds 24th Jan
0930 A pair of house sparrows were courting on the roof of the window nest box.

Fri 25th Jan
0930 Grebe Car Park to top up food. All the coconut was finished but unfortunately Tesco has run out.
1030 Moved the new goldeneye box to its new location and then put some wood shavings in both the boxes in that area. Checked the pine marten box - no sign of activity. Put food under the wooden boards for the badgers.

Sat 26th Jan
1000 Rigged barbed wire under the new goldeneye box at the badger hide. Lopped a few branches off the tree to improve access for the ducks while removing potentially climbing aids for pine martens.

An attempt to deter pine martens from stealing eggs

2000 Bea and I submitted our returns on bird counts and bird feeders to the BTO.

Sun 27th Jan
0930 Filled up the feeders in our garden and then began the count for the RSPB great garden bird watch. Bea took over when I went out.
0945 Did a circular route in the woods and in the process filled the feeders at the grebe car park and then cleaned and topped up the wood filling in nest boxes 0713, 0712, 0711, 0702 and 0701. Box 0701 still had a dead blue tit in it so that box got removed from its tree and a thorough spring clean before being re-filled and reinstalled. On the way home I topped up the bird feeders in a disabled neighbour's garden.
1130 Landward on BBC TV featured the snaring debate. Ian Hutchinson of Scottish Badgers and the guy from the SSPCA did a good job of contributing to the case for a complete ban. The gamekeepers and landowners that tried to speak in favour of keeping snares looked rather silly with their illogical arguments and half-truths.
1200 Two pairs of sparrows made a careful examination of the the sparrow gallery on our garden shed. Looks hopeful.
1900 Submitted our RSPB Bird Watch count on line.

Mon 29th Jan
1100 Went to the badger hide. Put out fresh food. Loosened the hinges ready to repair the door. Noticed the carpet was damp so lifted it to allow the floor to dry.
1230 Went for a walk along the river. Found two otter holts just 20 metres - the largest being level with a point just upstream from where a cattle grid has been inserted into a fence. This same fence has an otter-sized gap underneath it level with the holt and there is a corresponding tunnel under an otherwise perfect fence around a nearby 'conservation area' which contains a large pool with fish in it. The holt is two metres above the current river level and the sandy beach at that point has fresh otter prints leading towards the holt.

Weds 31st Jan
1500 Badger hide to put out more food. I replaced the uneaten badger/fox/dog food with plain brown bread and we'll see how that goes.
1530 Grebe car park to top up the hazelnuts.

Thurs 1st Feb
0830 Badger hide to put out more food. All the plain bread had gone so obviously they like it. Strange that they refuse to eat dog food or proprietory badger food.
0900 Grebe car park to video cresties - not bad.

Fri 2nd Feb
1000 Badger hide to top up food. Saw a tree creeper

Sat 3rd Feb
1400 Bea and I took the door off the badger hide to repair it but decided we needed to take it home to do a proper job. We put it back on pro tem and would come back next day better prepared.

Sun 4th Feb
0800 Fed our garden birds and then went to the grebe car park and filled up the feeders there.
0930 Bea and I returned to the badger hide, removed the door and nailed sheets of plywood over the empty doorway to stop birds and beast going in while we fixed the door. Went home and sawed 3cm off the bottom of the door and did some general repairs before taking it back to the hide.

Mon 5th Feb
Distributed slips to the local school children about the Nature's Calendar programme next week.

7pm Mon 12th Feb BBC 2 Nature's Calendar - Nest Box Special - Don't Miss It

2000 Went to the badger hide. Put out food. No badgers seen

Tues 6th Feb
1400 Did a badger talk for the Strathdearn Natural History Club. Heavy snow in the evening

Weds 7th Feb
0930 Cleared snow in the garden and fed our birds
1000 Went to the grebe car park and topped up the food there. Saw at least two crested tits.

Thurs 8th Feb
Six starlings in the garden this morning - two of which went into the starling nest box. Hope they're not planning a family just yet - this snow is due to last another week according to the Met boys.

Fri 9th Feb 07
1030 Went for a longish walk in the snow.
1040 Filled up the feeders at the grebe car park.
1100 The Corner Post badger sett is in use - but by foxes, not badgers. Lots of red squirrel prints in the snow.
1125 The Roid sett is, from the bottom up, under water, ice and snow. I sat there under the trees and watched the frozen landscape for signs of life. Nothing moved.
1145 Found badger prints in the snow near the north end of Loch Roid
1150 The BBB SW sett showed signs of life at one tunnel entrance - definitely badger this time.
1200 Most of the tunnels at the main BBB sett were buried in snow with little sign of life but one tunnel in the shelter of the trees was definitely in use by badgers.
1205 BBB NE sett was close to being swallowed up by the rising pond nearby so the tunnels were flooded.
1240 Back home via the grebe car park. The hazelnuts I had left there two hours previously were already gone.
1300 Email from the BBC confirming the details of Monday night's Nature Watch programme - 7pm BBC 2.

Sat 10th Feb
1445 Topped up the feeders at the grebe car park. Moved the black seed feeder into the cage because the rooks had been at it.
1500 Badger hide. Several of the holes at the lower sett and at least one hole at the upper sett are in use. Badger tracks in the snow all over the place and they have dug up the ground in front of the hide looking for food. I left bread, peanuts and peanut butter for them.
1800 Confusion reigns over when the BBC are showing the Nature's Calendar programme in Scotland.

Sun 11th Feb
1130 Phone call to say the Nature's Calendar programme had just finished on BBC 1 Scotland. Grrrrrrr - what are they playing at!!! Never mind - I'll catch it tomorrow.
1400 Goldeneye count at the badger hide. 2 males and 3 brown-heads

Mon 12th Feb
1100 Badger hide to put out more food.
1120 Watched goldeneye ducks on the River Spey. 3 males and 3 brown-heads seen.
1900 Watched Nature's Calendar Nestbox Special (which featured some of our work with cresties and goldeneye ducks) on BBC2 England. (It wasn't on on BBC2 Scotland or BBC2 Wales - pity. Evidently it was only on in Scotland at 1100 yesterday!) Lots of phone calls and emails after the programme.

Tues 13th Feb
1400 Meeting at Forestry Commission in Edinburgh with Eddie Palmer and Moira Baptie re badger sett data sharing.

Weds 14th Feb 07
2012 Phone call from Aviemore police reporting a damaged badger sett.

Thurs 15th Feb 07
1500 I attended the scene of the damaged badger sett with the police. Cannot say more in case it comes to court.

Sat 17th Feb
1430 Fed squirrels and birds at the grebe car park
1500 Cleaned all of our bird baths and bird feeders. Filled up all the feeders with fresh food.
1600 Began building a squirrel feeder for friends

Sun 18th Feb
1100 Completed the squirrel feeder for friends

1800 Registered the nest boxes in our garden with the BTO

Tues 20th Feb
1840 to 2000 Badger Hide. A badger (possibly 2) appeared at 1945 briefly.

Weds 21st Feb
1045 Filled the feeders at the grebe car park.
1830 to 1930 Badger Hide. One of the bulbs has blown at the front.
1904 Badger briefly sniffed the air at one of the lower sett holes but did not come fully out.
1920 Tawny owl heard near the hide.

Thurs 22nd Feb
0900 Put out fresh apples and hazelnuts at the grebe car park
0930 Visited Mountview hotel by invitation to look at their bird feeder set up with a view to designing a new layout.
1300 Spoke to Alan Dobbie, head green keeper at Boat of Garten golf club, and he told me about his close encounter with an otter. On Friday 9th Feb at 2215 he and his daughter watched an otter cross the road in front of them in Grantown on Spey. They stopped the car and the otter went over the low wall in front of the Craiglynne Hotel and proceeded to play in the snow on the hotel lawn. It rolled and threw the snow about, quite unconcerned with the dancing that Alan and his daughter could see going on through the hotel window behind where the otter was playing. They watched for about fifteen minutes.

Mon 26th Feb 07
1515 Filled the feeders at the grebe car park, then did a nest box check.
1530 Box 13 partly excavated with some dung in it
1540 Box 12 fully excavated with an egg in it. The entrance hole had been attacked by a predator and the wires attaching the box to the tree had been interfered with - the bottom one was undone altogether and the top one was loose.
1555 Boxes 11 and 10 - no change from the last visit
1610 Boxes 9 and 8 had been used as roosts - they had dun g in them
1620 Box 7 contained two feathers and some dung
1630 Box 6 no change
1635 Box 5 lots of dung and a few dark feathers. I cleared out the top layer.
1645 Box 4 Not even dung
1650 Box 3 Not even dung
1655 Box 2 Not even dung
1700 Box 1 Not even dung

1623 Pine marten dropping on the forest track at NH9234 1754.

1850 To badger hide.
1915 Tawny owl heard near the hide
1930 A badger came along. I crept outside and stood by a tree. The badger ignored me - whether it simply hadn't noticed me or just didn't care I could not tell.
1950 A second badger arrived but was nervous and stayed well away from the hide. It only hung around for ten minutes
2015 The first badger toddled off at last and I went home.

Tues 27th Feb
1830 Badger hide. No tawny owl heard this time - it was cold wet and windy.
1950 A badger came out, had a five-minute sniff around and went down a tunnel. I was ready to leave anyway so sneaked off before it re-emerged.

Weds 28th Feb
1000 Went to the badger hide. Replaced all the bulbs in the lights. Two of the light fittings are quite badly cracked and need replacing. I also fixed a wooden pad on the inside of the door to stop it rattling against the bolt.
1845 Back to the hide. 2020 a badger appeared but there was a bitter wind blowing and when a strong gust blew the badger sideways it forsook the food and dived for cover.

Thurs 1st March
1200 Filled up the feeders at the grebe car park. Cold, sleety and windy. Checked boxes 12 and 13. No change.
1920 Meeting of BoGWiG in the village hall. Review of the past two years and planning for the future. Super meeting with lots of good outcomes for our upcoming projects for badgers, water voles, the biodiversity audit and lots of other stuff. Much wine was consumed by those present which no doubt helped generate such a cheerful atmosphere.

Fri 2nd March
1845 Badger hide on my own. First badger 1920 at which I went outside and stood beside the hide. The badger stayed for five minutes. Another badger, or the same one, came out at 1930 and again it stayed for five minutes. At 1945 a different badger came along and stayed for half an hour. The breeze was blowing from me to it and it was only a few feet away so it definitely knew I was there. Apart from occasionally glancing up and staring at me for a few seconds it was too busy eating peanuts and chocolate sandwiches to be bothered. At 2015 another badger came out of a tunnel, spotted "my" badger and attacked it - chasing it away up river. I took this as my cue to go home.

Sat 3rd March
1000 Bea and I went to Aigas Field Centre for the first of two badger survey training courses this weekend. There were 27 trainees on this session which comprised Elaine Rainey running a theory session in the morning and then a practical session at two badger setts in the afternoon. We saw a peregrine falcon during the afternoon session. Elaine followed us home afterwards and we went to the badger hide sett so that Elaine could plan the training for the following day.

Sun 4th March
0730 I filled up the feeders at the grebe car park
0900 Elaine and I went to the grebe car park to look for red squirrels and crested tits but we only saw red squirrels - three of them.
1000 We went to the Boat of Garten Village Hall Elaine for Elaine to run the second of the badger training courses. Again it was a theory and practical session either side of lunch. Bea and I plus five BoGWiG members took part - a good day was had by all.

Mon 5th March
I spent nearly all day writing up the events of the past three days and updating websites.
1845 Took four BoGWiG members to the badger hide. A superb evening. First badger at 1920 for 15 minutes, then at 2000, just as we were about to leave, another badger turned up for a few minutes. As I locked the hide the young girl with us heard a high pitched noise and after searching around with the big torch we located two otters on the river - probably a mother and cub. Fantastic sighting and amazingly lucky. If those young ears had not been with us we oldies would have missed it altogether.

Tues 6th March
1100 Mark Stevens from BBC Radio Scotland came to do an interview about nest boxes for the Out Of Doors programme. We looked at my garden and workshop, then checked out the feeders and boxes in Craigie Wood and finally visited the goldeneye boxes at the badger hide. A most enjoyable session. The item will be broadcast on10th March between 0700 and 0800 while I am driving to Dunkeld for the SWT Members Centres Day, however it will be available on to "Listen Again" for a week.

Weds 7th Mar
0930 Chanonry point for 1.5 hours. No dolphins seen. Sunny showers and windy.
1130 North Kessock for 30 minutes. No otters or dolphins. Weather worsening.

Thurs 8th Mar
1845 Badger hide with 2 guests and Jean from BoGWiG. 1 badger for five minutes at 1905 and another one for a few minutes half and hour later. Very windy night, making the badgers nervous. Learned that my bit on the Out Of Doors radio programme will now be broadcast on 17th March.

Fri 9th Mar
Fed the birds in our garden and at the grebe car park. Rehearsed tomorrow's talk on badgers for SWT.
1430 Afternoon in the shed. Made two bird feeders entirely of mesh and began on a squirrel feeder - not the usual kind but something of a puzzle for them.
1845 Badger Hide for two hours. No badgers seen but watched a field vole climb a tree to get at the chocolate on some bread I had put there.

Sat 10th March
Attended SWT Members Centres Day in Birnam. Gave a talk on badgers and met a lot of nice people.

Sun 11th March
0930 Did the goldeneye count at the badger hide. 1 male and 1 brown-head seen.

Mon 12th March
1000 John and Sappho Hansford from Somerset came to see me. We spent the morning visiting various local bird sites.
1045 We topped up the feeders at the grebe car aprk
1100 Box 13 - even more wood missing than at the previous visit and the entrance hole has been attacked and enlarged slightly.
1110 Box 12 - some new nest material has been laid on top of the single egg.
1120 Box 11 - untouched.
I saw a pair of birds that might have been nuthatches and if so they were a long way north of their usual range.
In the afternoon John and Sappha did their own thing. They saw a crested tit at the grebe car park, then at about 1615 spotted an otter swimming in the south section of Loch Vaa at roughly NH 9141 1739.
1900 The three of us went to the badger hide. Nothing much happened for over an hour, then:
2012 A badger popped up briefly at the lower sett, seemed unhappy about the lights being on and headed off.
2030 A badger arrived at the upper sett and settled down to eat peanuts. Ten minutes later it was joined by a second badger who did not hand around for long and wandered off in the direction it had come from. At about the same time Sappho spotted a large owl on the ground. At first it was thought to be a rabbit but when it flew up into a tree that theory lost credibility. It looked huge in the lights from the hide and we wondered if it was a long-eared owl but in the end decided it was a tawny.
2050 We lost the badger at the upper sett, but then one appeared at the lower sett so that was probably the same one.
2120 We called it a night. A super evening, once it got going.

Tues 13th March
0530 Couldn't sleep so got up and began writing the Country Diary for the local paper.
0920 Set off into the woods.
0930 Box 1 - no change, still unexcavated
0940 Box 2 - no change, as above
0950 Box 3 - no change, as above
1000 Sat down in the Burnt Wood for a bird-watching session
1030 Mistle Thrush calling from the tip of a tree just beside where I was sitting while two buzzards swooped and called overhead
1145 Box 10 - no change, box still full
1153 Box 11 - no change, box still full
1200 Box 12 - no change, just the single dead egg but crested tit heard nearby.
1210 Box 13 - no change, still only partially excavated
1800 Attended a meeting of CRAGG at Glenmore Lodge

Weds 14th Mar 07
1000 Fed the birds at Junper Cottage for Terry and Lynne Sayer
1200 Meeting at Aigas Field Centre with Sir John Lister-Kaye and Dr and Ieuan Evans about the forthcoming Badger Survey.

15th March
All day doing admin. Mostly paperwork but I made some progress on the squirrel intelligence test feeder for Mountview

Fri 16th March
1000 Fed the birds in our garden and at the grebe car park.
1500 Finished building the squirrel intelligence test feeder for Mountview Hotel

Sat 17th March
0700 I was featured in part of the BBC Scotland radio programme 'Out Of Doors'.

0800 Two starlings spent at least two hours checking out the starling box on the garden shed. Looking good. House sparrows have been working on the nest box on my office window for at least two weeks.

1000 Went to Nethy Bridge. Filled up all the feeders at Juniper Cottage, then installed the new squirrel intelligence test feeder at Mountview Hotel.

Sun 18th Mar
0700 Looked out of the window to discover that winter had returned to the village. Wind and snow had turned everything white again and the garden was full of birds.
0900 Went out into the snow and topped up all the bird food.
1500 A red squirrel turned up in the garden - the first since Christmas.

Mon 19th Mar
There had been more snow overnight
0800 A starling was in its nest box despite the snow and we had two robins. The robins did not fight so they might be a pair.

Tues 20th Mar
Heavy snow overnight so the day began with a bit of shovelling.
0730 8 black headed gulls turned up for food this morning - the most so far.
0915 Filled up the feeders at a friend's house in Nethy Bridge.
0930 Called on a couple in Nethy Bridge to advise on building and placement of nest boxes.
1045 Went to Mountview, Nethy, to screw the squirrel intelligence test feeder more firmly to its frame.
1100 At the Abernethy Golf Club I filled up the squirrel feeder.
1115 Went to the badger hide and screwed new coat hooks onto the back of the door. There was no sign of badger activity, but then my footprints across the field filled up with blown snow within twenty minutes so there wouldn't be!
1215 Called at the grebe car park and filled the feeders. There was a squirrel there when I arrived.

Weds 21st Mar
1235 I went to one of the local main setts to do a spot of tracking in the snow. The snow stopped falling last evening so the night's activity was plain to see. Badgers had moved from one entrance to another and had also gone to the latrine and back again from the two entrances at each end of the sett, forming a distinct right-angle triangle of tracks with the line of sett entrances as the hypotenuse and the latrine at the right angle. At least two different badgers had used the latrine but no badgers had gone away foraging. There were also the tracks of rabbits, roe deer and red squirrel.

Thurs 22 Mar 07
10:30 Grebe Car Park Filled all the feeders then went on a nest check as follows:
10:35 Box 0713 No more wood removed since last check but there are some very fresh droppings in there
10:40 Box 0712 The egg seems even deeper into the nest material than last time. It's either sinking or more has been added
10:45 Box 0711 No sign of being used at all. Not even droppings
10:55 Box 0710 No change. No sign of use. No droppings
11:00 Box 0709 Used as a roost - lots of dung in box but they look quite old and dry so probably not recent. Small spiders web
11:09 Box 0708 Used as a roost - old dung in box plus some feathers
11:15 Box 0707 Some old droppings in the box
11:22 Box 0706 No change. Not even droppings in the box
11:40 Box 0705 Old droppings and a few little feathers
11:40 Craigie Wood NH92641770 wildcat print found in a patch of wet mud on the forest track
11:50 Box 0704 Wood slightly down since installation but no droppings
12:00 Box 0703 No droppings - totally unused
12:13 Box0702 A few dark feathers and a few old droppings
12:18 Box 0701 No droppings or any other signs of use
12:25 Filled up a neighbour's bird and squirrel feeders
20:15 Kincardine Badger Hide on my own. 1 badger for 15 mins at 2025. Also saw a tawny owl at 2055

Fri 23rd March
1030 Went for a three-and-a-half mile walk via Milton Loch, Boat Bridge, West Dalvoult and Fairy Hill. Highlights were:
11:00 Milton Loch, Boat of Garten NH94351940 one female goldeneye duck - no males
11:50 Path by R Spey, Boat of Garten, NH94661848 Single hole badger latrine right beside footpath
12:05 R.Spey near W. Dalvoult - Outlier Badger Sett DV2 now has three tunnels, surrounded by latrines - a surprisingly active outlier. This sett only had one hole when I first found it, then it became two last year and now it's three.

Sat 24 Mar
1000 Birnam Arts Centre, Dunkeld. BRISC AGM and conference. Roy Dennis spoke on satellite tracking and Elaine Rainey spoke on the Badger Survey.

Sun 25 Mar
5 BoGWiG members painted and cleaned the badger hide. We found one of the supporting logs is getting a bit rotten so will plan to have it dealt with during the closed season next winter. The actual cleaning and painting work took just one hour but overall it took from 10am to noon including travel and preparation. . 1400 Bea and I finished making the dust bath for our birds. I refilled the feeders and cleaned the bird baths. I then repainted the two new pine marten nest boxes .
1500 I peeped into the starling box. No nest material despite the birds spending quite a lot of time in there lately.

Mon 26 Mar
09.30 Filled the feeders at the grebe car park on my way to dropping the van off at Carrbridge Garage for repairs. I walked home via Docharn - 7.5 km and it took 2 hours due to lots of detours and stops to examine wildlife signs. The main finds were:
1000 Carrbridge Road NH90922149 lots of signs of vole activity on the west side the Carrbridge Road between the road and a footpath.
1100 At Docharn farm I diverted into Docharn Wood and visited my favourite pine marten signs place on a forest track at NH92552091. As usual there was loads of fresh dung. Also fox dung. The track, by the way, was deep in mud where the foresters had been working and there had also been cattle in there, judging from the cow pats everywhere.
1200 House sparrows nest building in the box on my office window.
1500 Added a cage over the new dust bath for the birds - a cat had been digging in it last night.
1800 Briefing in the village hall for BoGWiG members and others on surveying for water voles in readiness for us doing an actual survey in due course. There was a theory session to begin with and we then went out to Milton Loch to plan some practical surveying for the summer.

Tues 27th Mar
1000 Finished the mail shot for the badger hide. Went to Grantown to deliver some of the posters by hand. Hard work and very time consuming, so decided to post the rest.
1900 Took the RSPB osprey staff to the badger hide for their annual induction so that they can guide their volunteers to the hide once per week. Very pleasant evening - with one badger on show at 2020 for fifteen minutes. On the way in we saw a red kite - the first ever recorded there.

Weds 28th Mar
1400 Filled the feeders at the grebe car park

Thurs 29th Mar
1030 Attended a meeting of the Council of the Scottish Wildlife Trust

Fri 30th Mar
0800 Heard by email that an osprey arrived yesterday at the Loch of the Lowes Reserve. Apparently it was not the regular female who was nineteen years old last year and probably approaching her best-before date (aren't we all!).

1030 to 1230 Nest check in Craigie Wood as follows:
10:39 Box 0701 Half the filler wood gone. Crested tit alarm calling in nearby tree. We have action!
10:45 Box 0702 No action. Still a few dark feathers and a few old droppings. No filler removed.
10:52 Box 0703 Filler still about an inch below the hole. Still no droppings - totally unused
11:01 Box 0704 Box is about half empty - wood filler about 2 inches below the hole. No droppings. Some wear around the hole. Possible action
11:11 Box0705 No droppings or feathers at all. Wood is down about an inch below the hole. Possible action
11:20 Box 0706 Wood filler about an inch below the hole. No droppings.
11:27 Box 0707 Wood about one inch below the hole and a few very old dry droppings in the box.
11:32 Box 0708 Wood only 0.5 inch below hole. Used as a roost - old dung in box plus some feathers.
11:38 Box 0709 Wood 0.5 inch below hole. Lots of old dry droppings and a spiders web in the box. No sign of current use.
11:44 Box 0710 Wood filler still almost up to the bottom of the hole. No droppings. No action at all.
12:05 Box 0711 Wood filler still up to the bottom of the hole. A few old dry droppings, which I removed.
12:12 Box 0712 Box now full of wood again - it has been interfered with for the second time this year. Very disappointing. I will now hide it
12:18 Found a new badger latrine at NH93031890 beside the secret path near where we have had latrines before. Dung very fresh - possibly last night.
12:22 Box 0713 Box is half empty and now has only one dropping in it. Looks promising.

crested tit

1920 I took two people to the badger hide. We had a long wait but eventually a badger turned up at 2140 and we watched it eat peanuts for fifteen minutes. The badger almost totally ignored the peanut butter sandwiches I had made for it so I won't bother in future.

Sat 31st Mar
0500 Woke early and headed for a local capercaillie lek. No lekking seen but a large male landed in a tree nearby and another flew overhead, clipping the tree tops with its wing as it passed.

0715 In view of the interference suffered by box 12 recently I moved box 11 to a new position to get it away from the public path so that it does not fall foul of the same problem. Later I will move box 12 in the same way and place a notice on its original tree asking whoever has been "helping" to get in touch with me. They may like to get involved on a proper basis.

Mon 2nd April
0545 In position at the Craigie Wood lek. It was bitterly cold and there was nothing of interest to see. I then went to move box 12 and found it to be empty again! Most mysterious. I left it where it was for the time being and went to the grebe pond to sit and watch for a while but it was too foggy to see much. I then topped up the feeders at the grebe car park, took some pictures of red squirrels and went home for breakfast at 0835.
1500 Meeting with Anne Elliott from SNH to discuss some local housing issues.
1600 Went to Kincardine estate to investigate a report that there was a dead badger near the big ditch. I found it as described - 200 metres from the B970 road. I think it is a standard road traffic victim that didn't get killed outright but tried to crawl home and didn't make it. It was a female - non-lactating, thankfully - with no visible external injuries (snare, shot etc) but with massive internal bleeding, consistent with a car strike. Very sad that we've lost yet another one from that family.

1900 Took a couple to the badger hide, wondering what would happen after the above incident. I need not have worried - we had two badgers on view for more than half an hour so that was great.

2200 I drove to Glen Elg to take advantage of a superb weather forecast for the next day and I was in my sleeping bag in my van in the Geln Elg ferry car park by 1am.

Tues 3rd April
0530 I was up and had a swift breakfast of banana and luke warm tea before wrapping up against the cold and setting off in the dark. I was in position at the coast at the place we call Kevin's Ledge at 0625. When I arrived it was bitterly cold, there was a slight breeze, the tide was not quite full and there was nothing like enough light yet for taking photos if an otter happened to come along. I wait for more than four hours and then I saw an otter and I quickly moved nearer each time it submerged. Soon I could see there were two of them - a male and a female adult. I got quite close and got some nice pictures of them tumbling together in the water. They soon noticed I was there but did not seem too worried and got on with what they were doing. At last the male headed off north along the coast and the female went south. I waited around for another hour and left the area at 1230 - a six-hour stint but well worth it. It might be worth remembering the otters appeared about halfway through the falling tide.
1630 I got home, exhausted.

One of the Glen Elg Otters seen today

Thurs 5 April
0915 Filled all the feeders at the grebe car park
1230 Got a message to say "Ellie" the female osprey at Loch Garten had arrived home.

Fri 6th April
0738 I set off for a nest box check
07:45 Box 0701 Wood is 85mm down. Unidentified birds nearby. Probably looking good
07:50 Box 0702 Wood 30mm down. Dark feather and old droppings in box
07:55 Box 0703 Wood 30mm down. No droppings.
08:03 Box 0704 Wood is down 90-95mm. Probable action
08:20 Box 0709 No change. Wood down 25mm. Lots of old dry droppings and a spiders web in the box. No sign of current use.
08:21 I found some pine marten dung on a small animal track about 40 metres from nest box 0709
08:27 Box 0710 Wood filler still all there. No droppings. No action at all.
09:12 Box 0711 No change. Wood filler still up to the bottom of the hole. No droppings.
09:15 Box 0712 Box full of wood - I had thought it was being interfered with so I hid it. I now know I was confusing it with box 0613 that was quite irresponsibly moved by someone so that there were two boxes within 30 metres of each other. I thought it had been stolen but obviously not after all.
]09:16 Box 0714 Dead egg still in the box among some mossy bedding. Mystery of boxes in this area now solved - this is the old box 0613 that someone moved.
09:26 Box 0713 Wood now 90mm down. Looks promising
11:45 Called in at the RSPB Osprey Centre and spoke to Crystal and Louise. Female osprey "Ellie" now has a male but he's not her usual mate "Henry". The new male has brought Ellie a fish so she's at least got a provider until Henry shows up. 12:10 I checked the nest boxes at the badger hide. The tit box has lots of nest material in it and possibly some new sheep's wool, but no proper nest. The low goldeneye box may still have hibernating bee in it so I left it alone. The camouflage goldeneye box was empty apart from its wood-shavings.

However - the goldeneye box on top of the hill is no longer a goldeneye box - it contains a female tawny owl and three warm eggs. She flew off as I set the ladder against the box - frightened the life out of me! I had a peep into the box to count the eggs and then left in a hurry. What a wonderful surprise.

This goldeneye box has been taken over........... this tawny owl

Sat 7th April
1500 Made a crow-proof bird feeder.
1945 Badger watch with four guests. Two badgers, some wood mice and a stoat seen.

Sun 8th April
2000 Badger watch with 5 guests. Not the most active evening for the badgers with only a glimpse of one badger to report. However, we had a very close look at a tawny owl that dropped out of the tree right in front of the hide and then rose up into the tree and perched there for a while. It then dropped down again and eventually flew off. It seems to be using the lights from the hide to help it find mice. I am hopeful this is the female who I discovered on Friday has eggs in one of our goldeneye boxes.

Mon 9th April
0800 The starlings are feverishly nest building in the box in our garden
1145 Went to the osprey centre to tell the staff about the tawny owl in the nest box at the badger hide. Saw the ospreys "Ellie" and "Orange VS" mating.
1600 Filled the feeders at the grebe car park.
1945 Sat near the owl box at the badger hide and waited for dusk. I had the box in profile against the sky so anything coming out would be a silhouette. At 2045 it was nearly dark and the owl squeezed out of the box and flew away. Wonderful to know she was not put off by my inadvertent interference on Friday.

Thurs 12th April
1500 Started work on some more crow-proof bird feeding cages
1930 Took three people to the badger hide. A badger came out at 2052 and hung around for about half an hour. We got some very close views.
2103 The tawny owl emerged from its nest box to go hunting.

Fri 13th April
07:50 Grebe Car Park, Boat of Garten Filled all the feeders
09:45 Set off with David from the RSPB Osprey Centre and Jane from RSPB Vane Farm to check the crested tit nest boxes. Here's what we found:
10:03 Box 0701 Wood is still 85mm down. No nest material yet
10:10 Craigie 0702 No change. Wood 30mm down. Dark feather and old droppings in box
10:19 0703 No change. Wood 30mm down. No droppings.
10:28 0704 Box is almost empty. Looking really promising
10:36 0705 Wood is down 75mm. Dark feather stuck in a cobweb on the underside of the lid. Action of some kind
10:45 0706 We have lots of nest material and the beginnings of a nest made from moss and feathers
10:54 0707 Wood 30mm down and some old dry droppings
11:00 0708 Wood only 1 inch below hole. Used as a roost - lots of old dung in box plus some dark feathers.
11:08 0709 No change. Lots of old dry droppings and a spiders web in the box. No sign of current use.
11:15 We found a capercaillie tail feather on the track.
11:17 0710 Box is two-thirds empty and there is nest material in the box.
11:26 0711 Box still full of wood. No droppings
11:36 0712 Box still full of wood
11:39 0714 Dead egg still in the box among some mossy bedding. 2 blue tits scolding us nearby.
11:47 0713 Wood now 110mm down. No nest material yet but it looks very promising
11:50 On the way home we called at the grebe gar park. I only brought new food here four hours ago and the hazelnuts were already gone and two of the apples were almost fully eaten.
15:30 Went for another walk in the woods with an old friend Caroline and her daughter Josie. We re-checked some of the boxes and at box 0710 we found even more nest material than this morning and the beginnings of a cup. We then had a look at the Corner Post badger sett where two of the three tunnels were clearly in use. On the way home we visited a red squirrel drey and then went via the grebe car park feeder station where two of the apples were now totally gone. Squirrels really do like them and in this dry weather are probably glad of the juice.

Sat 14th April
2000 Badger hide with three guests. First badger came out at 2025, then another.
2110 The tawny owl flew out of its box.

Sun 15th April
0530 Early morning walk.
0630 I saw a hen capercaillie near one of the nest boxes.
0710 I sat where I could see nest box 0710. Two crested tits came along to do some housework in the box so that looks promising.
1700 approx. Phone call from a member of the badger network, to report a dead female badger on the A96 near the Boath junction. I passed the information on to Scottish Badgers.

Mon 16th April
0530 Off for a walk.
0630 Visited nest box 0705. It was as we left it on Friday.
0650 Saw a male capercaillie on the ground among trees.
0700 Sat by box 0706 for nearly an hour to try and see which birds were nest building in it. No luck.
0755 Walked home via nest boxes 4, 3, 2 and 1. No changes since we checked on Friday.
1500 Finished making a crow-proof bird feeder for Mountview Hotel
1930 Set up the remote camera at the badger hide for small mammals.
2000 A badger came out briefly in broad daylight, then came out again at 2050 just as I was leaving so I gave it a fright. Pity.

Tues 17th April
0930 Set up the new crow-proof bird feeder at Mountview
1300 Called in at the RSPB osprey centre to brief staff on the tawny owl and the remote camera at the badge hide - they are taking their volunteers to the hide this evening.

Weds 18th April
1200 Went to the badger hide to check the remote camera and the nest boxes. The camera had more than 200 pictures on its card - all of badgers and wood-mice, plus a few worms and millipedes. The good news is one of the badger pictures is of a lactating female, so we have babies somewhere.The tit box still has what looks like a complete nest in it but no eggs and the pine marten nest box has no droppings on its roof so no action there either. However, the camouflaged goldeneye box has four eggs in it so we're up and running. I just hope the barbed wire round the tree under the box keeps the pine marten out.
1730 Filled all the feeders at the grebe car park
1745 Checked nest box 0713 and found a nest in it. The nest is about three quarters built with moss but with no lining yet.

Thurs 19th April
2000 Badger Hide for more than three hours or with keen photographer David Rice. I put new batteries in the remote camera and checked the card with the laptop again - all the photos were of badgers.
2030 We saw a male goldeneye duck displaying on the river.
2100 First badger came out for ten minutes. Later we saw badgers again for varying lengths of time. We think David got a few decent pictures but it's hard to tell just on the camera's little screen.
2130 The tawny owl flew out of her box.
We saw flashes from the remote camera below the hide wall on and off during the evening so I expect we shall have pictures of mice tomorrow. If it had been badgers we would have seen them through the window.

Fri 20th April
Nest check of all the crested tit boxes
15:04 Box 0701 Wood is still 85mm down. No nest material
15:10 Box 0702 Wood 30mm down. Dark feather and old droppings in box
15:18 capercaillie droppings on a tree stump beside nest box 0703
15:18 Box 0703 No change. Wood 30mm down. No droppings.
15:27 Box 0704 Small amount of mossy nest material in the box
15:35 Box 0705 No change. Wood is down 75mm. Dark feather stuck in a cobweb on the underside of the lid. Action of some kind
15:42 Box 0706 Crested tit sitting tight on eggs. It begins!
15:50 Box 0707 No change. Wood 30mm down and some old dry droppings
15:54 Box 0708 Wood only 1 inch below hole. Used as a roost - lots of old dung in box plus some dark feathers.
16:03 Box 0709 No change. Lots of old dry droppings and a spiders web in the box. No sign of current use.
16:11 Box 0710 Box is two-thirds empty and there is nest material in the box including feathers for a lining. No sign of the crested tits today.
16:18 Box 0711 Box still full of wood. No droppings
16:24 Box 0712 Box still full of wood
16:24 Craigie Wood NH92911887 brown hare near nest box 0712
16:26 Box 0714 The dead egg is gone and there is some new nest material in the box
16:30 Badger latrine beside secret path near where we have had latrines before. Dung very fresh - possibly last night.
16:34 Box 0713 Lots of nest material in the box but no lining yet

2000 Spent more than 2 hours at the badger hide with two guests. We saw two goldeneye ducks and a tawny owl but no badgers. The remote camera kept flashing off so I presume the mice were about too. Disappointing.

Sat 21st April Represented the Scottish Wildlife Trust North Forum at a meeting of the Highland Biodiversity Forum in Inverness.
1600 Checked the camera and camouflaged box at the badger hide. There were no badgers on the camera - just mice and pheasants. However, the camouflaged nest box now has 11 goldeneye eggs in it.
2000 - 2230 In the badger hide with 7 guests. No badgers seen, but a tawny owl flew out of its box at 2030.

Sun 22nd April
1530 Filled all the feeders at the grebe car park and replaced the broken feeder with a new one.
1545 Saw a slavonian grebe on the grebe pond, via the telescope of a birdwatcher who happened to be there at the time.
1930 to 2300 I went to the badger hide to try and find the badgers. None seen and none on the camera. Furthermore, the peanuts I had scattered the previous evening were still there.
2000 Saw a dipper at the island opposite the hide where they usually have nest.
2120 I hid near the owl box and soon saw both tawny owls. The male arrived at the box just as the female was leaving. They exchanged a few words and the female flew away. The male perched in the entrance to the box with his head inside for about a minute before going completely in. He then came out after another minute and flew away after the female, calling as he went. I then got up out of my bush and wandered quietly around in the dark looking for badgers but found no signs of them.

Mon 23rd April
1400 Repaired the squirrel feeder at the grebe car park.
1430 Checked the camera at the badger hide - only mice and pheasants on the card - no badgers. I removed the camera altogether and left some peanuts under a new heavy board that I had made earlier, to be checked tomorrow.
2015 Settled down near MG badger sett.
2034 A badger came out and quickly disappeared - probably along a gully but possibly back down its tunnel.
2100 A tawny owl male hooted right behind me - I nearly jumped out of my skin.
2100 A roe buck began barking. I think it caught sight of me.
2115 I went for a walk in the gathering darkness and found a group of three recently excavated badger setts. I shall return tomorrow and sit here at dusk.

Tues 24th April
0800 Starlings still nest building in our garden.
1230 At the badger hide, the board over the peanuts had been moved but not all of the peanuts were eaten. I collected the ladder and took it home for the afternoon session.
1430 Bea and I put up a tawny owl nest box and a kestrel nest box at Milton Loch. We checked the two goldeneye boxes while we were there. The west box had five jackdaw eggs in it and the east box had six of the same. Pity. The squirrel feeder at the bird hide was broken so I took it home for repair.
2000 - 2130 Went to MG badger sett again. No badgers seen but a hare walked close past me and roe deer got wind of me and shouted the alarm.

Weds 25th April
1015 Went to the badger hide to return the ladder. The board had been shifted and all the peanuts were gone. I also noticed a huge pile of bedding outside the tunnel where most of the action has been lately. Obviously at least one badger is still in residence and it could easily be the female and her cubs. The camouflaged goldeneye nest box now has 16 eggs in it.
1045 Went to the MG sett area to have a snoop around. There are setts and latrines all over the place so the badgers must be doing fine. I located gaps under the fence beside the nearby fields which must be the routes taken by the badgers to their foraging grounds. I laid plans to sit there one evening and watch.

1250 Nest box check in the local woods:
1254 Box 0701 has an almost complete nest but no lining yet.
1300 Box 0702 no change - totally unused.
1306 Box 0703 no change. The wood is down just a little bit but there are no droppings so it is unused.
1312 Box 0704 has a complete nest but with no lining yet.
1319 Box 0705 is about two-thirds empty with a tiny amount of nest material in the box.
1325 Box 0706 has six crested tit eggs. No sign of the parents.
1332 Box 0707 is three-quarters empty - 110 mm below the level of the hole but no nest material in it yet.
1336 Box 0708 no change. Loads of old dry droppings and dark feathers but most of the wood filling is still there so not in current use.
1343 Box 0709 no change - totally unused.
1348 Box 0710 has a crested tit sitting on eggs.
1353 Box 0711 is still full of wood.
1400 Box 0712 is still full of wood.
1402 Box 0714 has an almost complete nest in it but no lining yet.
1408 Box 0713 has a complete nest and a tiny amount of downy lining material.
1410 I filled up the bird feeders at the grebe car park. Something has had a bit of a go at the pineapple I put there a couple of days ago so perhaps the squirrel will acquire a taste for it. In dry weather it will last longer than an apple and will provide a source of liquid.
1600 The two starlings had a bath in our pond then preened in the sun for ages. When they had gone I peeped into the nest box - and found a complete nest with one egg in it.

Fri 27th April
1900 Andrew Kirk phoned to report two dead female badgers on the B862 just south of the Scaniport turning at NH63003986.
2000 - 2200 Spent the evening at MG badger sett. No badgers seen but two male tawny owls hooted about 100 metres behind me the whole time I was there.

Sat 28th April
0730 We had two squirrels in our garden. We also had a pair of great tits prospecting at the sparrow gallery on the shed and one of our male blackbirds out-competed a collared dove for a pile of crushed peanuts.
1000 Topped up the food at the grebe car park and installed a bird bath to help the birds and squirrels in this dry spell. I did not make a great job of it so will go back tomorrow better equipped.
2000 I took 4 guests to the badger hide. A badger appeared almost straight away and we were then treated to several more visits as the evening went on. We also saw the tawny owls going to and from their nest box, suggesting they are now feeding young.

Sun 29th April
2100 I sat at various places at Mullingarrach until 2300 but saw no badgers. Heard lots of tawny owl calls again

Mon 30th April
Email this morning from Bill Cuthbert to say he and his family saw a wildcat by the Grantown-Forres Road. It ran up a bank and turned to look at them, but Bill unfortunately didn't have his camera with him.
1100 A BoGWiG member and II filled the grebe car park feeders again and re-hung the new bird bath. We then checked a few nest boxes
1130 Box 0713 had a little more lining than last time.
1125 Box 0714 was also slightly more advanced with some extra lining.
1135 Box 1712 was still full of wood
1140 Box 1711 was also still unused
1150 Box 0710 had its crested tit on five eggs. She remained close by to see us off the premises.

Tues 1st May
1500 I checked the starling nest box - it had four eggs in it.

Weds 2nd May
1230 Topped up the food and water at the grebe car park. Noticed the slavonian grebe was on its pond and a nest mound had appeared on a shallow bank in the middle. A coot was in close attendance so it might have been hers.
1730 Went to the badger hide to check the boxes with Bea and Keith Duncan. The goldeneye box still had 16 eggs and no duck so it looks as if it's being used as a dump by more than one female. The tawny owl box had three good chicks in it - we'll ring them next week.


Keith and Bea with one of the tawny owl chicks

Thurs 3rd May
1500 Nest check in Craigie Woods with Samantha Richardson, an RSPB volunteer from the Osprey Centre. This is what we found:
15:04 Box 0701 - Complete nest with lining
15:10 Box 0702 No change. Wood 30mm down. Dark feather and old droppings in the box.
15:17 Box 0703 Wood now 50mm down. No droppings. Possible action
15:25 Box 0704 Complete nest with one egg
15:33 Box 0705 There is now a handful of nest material in the box.
15:40 Box 0706 Six crested tit eggs in the box. One parent in attendance.
15:47 Box 0707 There is a complete nest with one egg in the box.
15:52 Box 0708 Wood only 1 inch below hole. Used as a roost - lots of old dung in box plus some dark feathers.
15:58 Box 0709 No change. Lots of old dry droppings and a spiders web in the box. No sign of current use.
16:05 Box 0710 There are now six eggs in the box. Crested tit in attendance.
16:08 Box 0711 Box still full of wood. No droppings
16:19 Box 0714 Complete nest with lots of feathers
16:20 Box 0712 Box still full of wood
16:30 Box 0713 Complete nest with lots of downy lining
16:35 At NH93031890 we saw a badger latrine beside secret path near where we have had latrines before. Dung fairly fresh.
15:30 At NH92861792 we found a capercaillie dropping in the middle of the track
16:40 We saw one slavonian grebe on the grebe pond. We also watched a pair of coots building up the nest I saw yesterday - hoping it might be a slavonian grebe nest. 'Fraid not.
1800 I took some delegates from a local tourist association to see my feeding stations. They are planning some of their own and were looking for ideas.
2000 I took two people to the badger hide. We saw the tawny owl, a badger and a pine marten.

Fri 4th May
1000 I attended a meeting in Perth of the Scottish Badgers Advisory Group and Trustees.
1800 Looked in the starling box - still 4 eggs.
2030 I went for a walk at Dalvoult.
2105 Watched 2 badgers cavorting at the Dalvoult main sett for 15 minutes. At first I thought from their behaviour they might be cubs but soon realised they were too big.

Sat 5th May
1000 I took two visitors for a walk during which we saw the slavonian grebe on the grebe pond, a red squirrel drinking from its new pool (bird bath), a crested tit near its nest (box 10), a curlew sitting low in a field (probably on a nest), and an osprey on its nest (nest D). A very pleasant morning.
2000 I took one guest to the badger hide. There was a male goldeneye duck on the river when we got there and during our stay we twice watched a badger feeding on peanuts for between five and ten minutes each time. It was quite windy so the badger was slightly nervous.

Sun 6th May
1430 I visited the TD badger sett. Not a great deal of activity in evidence but there were two tunnels in current use and a modest latrine nearby. It suggests just a very small group of badgers living here.
1600 Phone call from Andrew Kirk reporting a dead female badger on the A96 at Newton near the B9030 junction.

Mon 7th May
1100 Found a dead male badger on the B9153 at NH91071999, presumably from the nearby sett at Kinveachy. A bit further on the same road, on the outskirts of Carrbridge, I saw a dead hedgehog at NH90962211.
1700 I checked our starling box to find she still had 4 eggs.
2030 I went to DV to watch badgers. First of all I saw a tree creeper and a rabbit before the badgers came out. Then at exactly 2100 two badgers crept out of the shadows. The first appeared oblivious to my presence but the second knew something wasn't quite right and kept looking in my direction. I was partly hidden in the fork of a double-trunked tree and by no means invisible, but the badger seemed satisfied I was not a proper threat so it chose to ignore me. I saw more badgers during the next hour but it was impossible to say if they were different ones or the same as I had seen earlier.

Thurs 10th May
0800 Starlings began bringing food to the box in our garden - we have chicks.

Fri 11th May
0800 Keith Duncan and I plus David and Faith from the osprey centre went to the badger hide to ring the three tawny owl chicks. Keith was ably assisted by Faith while David and I took pictures.

On checking the other boxes we found a strange piece of chewed up wood on top of the pine marten box, the same 16 eggs as before in the camouflaged box and a female goldeneye duck with two eggs in the third box that had been home to hibernating bees in the winter. Keith and Faith ringed the duck.

1100 I heard from Richard Thaxton that the female at the osprey centre has laid an egg.
1400 I filled all the feeders at the grebe car park and topped up the water.
1500 Nest check in Craigie Wood. David and Faith from the osprey centre came with me to help. Here's what we found:
15:00 Box 0701 Four eggs - they could be crested tits
15:07 Box 0702 No change since last time. Wood 30mm down. Dark feather and old droppings in the box
15:15 Box 0703 Wood now 60mm down. No droppings.
15:25 Box 0704 Five eggs in the box
15:30 Box 0705 Two eggs in the box
15:40 Box 0706 At least five crested tit chicks but could be six. Quite well advanced.
15:47 Box 0707 Blue tit sitting on eggs
15:52 Box 0708 Wood only 1 inch below hole. Used as a roost - lots of old dung in box plus some dark feathers.
15:58 Box 0709 No change. Lots of old dry droppings and a spiders web in the box. No sign of current use.
16:05 Box 0710 Crested tit sitting tight - probably on chicks. On previous visits when she was on eggs she flew away at our arrival.
16:12 Box 0711 Box still full of wood. No droppings. Inactive
16:20 Box 0712 Box still full of wood
16:23 Box 0714 Complete nest with four eggs
16:30 Box 0713 Complete nest with at least four eggs

Sat 12th May
17:15 Checked out a dead badger on the A95 at Kinveachy, map ref NH91231855. The badger weighed 9kg and had clearly been hit by a vehicle. I hid the carcase in a dip by the fence.

Sun 13th May
1700 Set up the remote camera on a goldeneye nest box near the badger hide. There was no duck in the box at the time - just three eggs.
2045 Went to the badger hide with two ladies where we saw two adult badgers and one cub. The cub looked quite large but it did not stray far from the sett entrance. I checked the goldeneye box again while I was there but still no duck.

Mon 14th May
0800 I did a check of selected nest boxes as follows
0805 Box 0701 Six eggs belonging to a blue tit
0835 Box 0704 Blue tit sitting on eggs
0845 Box 0705 Five eggs in the box - then after a few minutes a blue tit turned up and sat down on them.
0933 Badger latrine by the secret path near the old box 4 at map ref NH92791878.
0938 Box 0714 Six eggs in the box
1010 Box 0713 Six eggs

To summarise - of the fourteen boxes in the wood there are two boxes with crested tit chicks and six boxes with blue tit eggs.

Tues 15th May
1100 Meeting at Bruar with Eddie Palmer and Ian Hutchinson to discuss badger issues.

Weds 16th May
Enter two previously unknown badger setts into the system - one at Lairg and one at Foyers.
2100 Went to the badger hide with 4 guests. I checked the remote camera on the goldeneye/bee box and found that two ducks had been visiting it. I then found there were more eggs in the box than previously but could not spare the time to count them properly in case badgers came out and were spooked. We saw at least four badgers - possibly six. There were three cubs and an adult together but the adult was almost certainly not one of those we had seen earlier.

Thurs 17th May
0745 I replaced the card and batteries in the remote camera at the bee/goldeneye box at the hide and peeped into the box. There was a female incubating eggs so I crept away. The camouflage box still had 16 dumped eggs in it.
0800 I checked box 0706 in the woods to find it still had the crestie chicks so the prospects were looking good for tomorrow's ringing session.

Fri 18th May
1200 Chris Donald, Faith from the Osprey Centre and I ringed the crested tit chicks in box 6 and box 10. Box 6 had 6 chicks (so all of the eggs had hatched) and their ring numbers are R309880 to 885. However, there were only 4 chicks in box 10 despite there having been 6 eggs until quite recently - we gave them ring numbers R309886 to 889. One of the 4 chicks had mistakenly swallowed some of the nest lining along with a green grub and was in real danger of choking but Chris carefully removed the offending material and hopefully it will recover.
1900 I filled up the feeders and water at the grebe car park, then checked two nest boxes (0713 and 0714) where I was not entirely certain of the occupants - they both turned out to be blue tits on eggs.
2020 I got a message from A/Sgt Eric Sharkie of Aviemore Police to say the procurator had decided not to proceed with prosecuting the people who had damaged a badger sett in Glen Feshie in an attempt to rescue their dog. Pity.
2100 to 2330 I took six people to the badger hide. The weather was truly awful so there was not much badger action until after 2300 when a badger came out and braved the elements to eat peanuts for twenty minutes. The cubs stayed below ground - very sensible.

Sun 20th May
2100 I took three people to the badger hide. The remote camera had pictures of our ringed goldeneye duck on the card so she is back on her eggs good and proper. We also saw the tawny owl hunting along the river bank. One of the badgers came out in broad daylight and ate peanuts for a while and then a different adult emerged with a cub. Later the second cub also came out to play. We left just after 2300 - a very pleasant evening.

Mon 21st May
2100 Went to the badger hide to check on a few things. I discovered that the tawny owl chicks had fledged, the camouflage box still had heaps of goldeneye eggs in it but no duck, the tit box had a nest but no eggs, the pine marten box was unoccupied and there was a goldeneye duck sitting on eggs in the bee box. I changed the card and batteries in the camera and found there were a few pictures of the goldeneye standing on its box. After these checks I sat in the hide for a while but the weather was wild and the badgers stayed under ground.

Weds 23rd May
1100 Checked and disposed of a dead badger on the road near Grainish Farm. It was a male weighing just 7kgs - a youngster.
1945 I topped up all the food at the grebe car park

Thurs 24th May
1530 Stuart Glenn from the Scottish Wildlife Trust came to stay to have a look around what we are up to here at the Boat. We began at the grebe car park where there were 3 red squirrels and a variety of small birds, although no crested tits. It was then off to the badger hide to peep into all the boxes. The goldeneye duck was away feeding and her eggs were totally buried snuggly in a heap of down but we examined the card on the automatic camera and there were shots of two ducks, including one that was taken just before we arrived. On the top of the hill we opened the now empty tawny owl box and took out some pellets for examination later and then climbed the tree with the pine marten box in it but there were no scats on its roof so still no action. However I noticed a small hole where probably a branch had come off years ago and then rotted making an inviting entrance for a cavity nesting bird, animal or insect. Bees often take over such tunnels but in this case a blue tit was flying round us shouting its head off so I think it had a nest in there. Down at the hide a great spotted woodpecker came along but did not like the look of us and then a tree creeper took over were the woodpecker left off. Our final visit of the afternoon was to Milton Loch where we squelched across the bog to look at goldeneye boxes on Bantick poles in which we knew jackdaws were nesting. We found three large jackdaw chicks in each box.
2030 After a visit to the fish and chip van we went back to the hide to watch for badgers. The great spotted woodpecker came back again several times, the goldeneye duck was back in her box and a brown hare trotted along the riverside path. Eventually a badger peeped out of a tunnel and then at last it came out to eat peanuts for half an hour.
Back at the house we looked at the owl pellets but all we found were the jaw bones of two shrews.

Sat 26th May
0800 Topped up the food at the grebe car park
1400 Took a group of five people on a wildlife walk in Craigie Woods as part of the Boat of Garten May Festival. We checked four nest boxes. Two had blue tits on eggs, one was unused and the fourth was box 0710 in which there had been four crested tit chicks which we ringed last week. Sadly the box still contained two of the chicks - both dead. One can only speculate as to the reason they died but lack of food seems the most likely. We also visited the corner post badger sett which appeared to have at least one badger in residence.

Sun 27th May
1330 I went to the badger hide to check on the camera and the goldeneye box. There was a female goldeneye on eggs and the camera contained 425 pictures.
1345 In view at what happened at box 0710 yesterday I went to box 0706 to check that all the crested tits from that box had fledged. The box was empty so that was a relief.
1645 I returned to the badger hide and reinstalled the camera with a fresh supply of batteries and a blank card. The goldeneye duck was still in the box. I also filled up the food bin with peanuts.

Weds 30th May
1000 I met Ian Hutchinson and we drove around the east side of Inverness to view the overall situation and try to visualise what the latest crop of plans for new roads and houses would mean for the badgers. The future looks bleak, especially when you take into account the very poor quality of badger mitigation that was installed in the area during previous developments - fencing on the wrong side of the posts, gates left open, gates that badgers could crawl under and gaps with no badger fencing at all. We visited the airport (where we went to a sett that is clearly still occupied so at least some of the badgers have survived), Tor na Grain and Culloden. After coffee at Tescos we drove to a place near Leachkin to look for a sett which was reportedly threatened by building works. A very nice lady helped us with her local knowledge and we found the sett. The sett had approximately six tunnels and was currently not in use but could easily be reoccupied at short notice if the badgers chose to. The development was not close enough to the sett to cause interference and whoever reported the problem may have been confused by some temporary waterworks that were going on nearer the sett than the main building work - but even the waterworks were well removed from the sett.
1430 Bea and I and Mary Clark went to Kinveachy Lodge for their open day. It was a fascinating glimpse into the changing world of a major shooting estate, who have the unenviable task of having to balance the needs of their Sites of Scientific Interest and Special Areas of Conservation with running the business of the estate. Their main task of drastically reducing deer numbers was on schedule and the benefits to their young trees was already evident. We received a presentation from their Chief Executive and then the Sporting Manager drove us in a landrover up the moorland hills to see the ground at close quarters. Unfortunately the weather was atrocious with prolonged heavy rain and we came across a hen red grouse who was trying to find her chicks. The chicks were searching in vain for insects and, being as wet and bedraggled as their mother, were at great risk of dying from the cold. Two days of heavy rain at this time of year can wipe out a high percentage of the season's young.
2100 I took six people to the badger hide. The goldeneye duck was still in her box and there were a few pictures on the camera. We had quite a long wait before there was any badger action but just after eleven o'clock the cubs emerged and it had been well worth the wait. We probably saw five badgers altogether including the three cubs. It was after midnight before I got home.

Thurs 31st May
Our starling chicks fledged at about noon today
2030 Bea and I went to box 0710 to retrieve the dead crested tit chicks - ring numbers R309886 and R309887. We took them home and put them in the freezer and on Monday they will be posted to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Fri 1st May
2100 I went to the badger hide on my own. Saw 2 curlews and heard a cuckoo on my way across the field. The goldeneye duck was still dutifully sitting on her eggs so I carefully removed the camera and downloaded the pictures onto my laptop before equipping the system with fresh batteries and a fresh card. A badger cub came out at 2125, then at around 2200 there were 5 badgers - 2 adults and the 3 cubs. After a time the adults became aware of my presence (I had crept outside) and they decided I was not to be tolerated, despite all the peanuts, and they wandered off.

Sat 2nd May
0730 An adult starling and a chick turned up in the garden. The adult went and looked in the box (just checking), then flew away, leaving the chick to make its own arrangements.
0800 I filled the feeders at the grebe car park. I have been a bit neglectful this week and the food was almost all gone.
2100 I went back to the badger hide. The goldeneye duck was still on eggs and the badger cubs came out again at 2125.

One of this year's cubs eating bread and chocolate spread

The wind got up and spooked the young badgers so that they ran down into the shelter of their tunnels. I went outside and sat on the grass and twice an adult badger came up to look at me but it did not much care for what it was seeing and went straight back down again.

Sun 3rd June
2115 Badger Hide with five guests. We saw 5 badgers - 2 adults and 3 cubs. There were some interesting pictures of three or four goldeneye ducks at the bee box so I took the camera home rather than risk losing them - it was raining hard and the camera might have got wet if I'd mucked about with it out there.

Mon 4th June
0930 I went back to the hide and reinstalled the camera. I then checked the bee box (goldeneye still sitting patiently on eggs) and the camouflage box (the same 16 eggs) and I then strimmed the grass round the hide and pruned some small branches on trees close to the hide.
1030 I visited the RSPB osprey centre to brief the staff on the latest action at the badger hide. Both ospreys were at the nest - the female was incubating.
1500 I put the two dead crested tits in the post to Edinburgh Museum.
1600 I spent an hour on the A9 near Carrbridge checking out three culverts in connection with a response to a request for information prior to the proposed widening of that stretch sometime soon. I shall point out that there could be implications for otters if two of the three culverts were to be lost or reduced in size during the work.
2115 I went back to the badger hide. It was a lovely evening and the badgers were slower in coming out than other recent evenings. They might have been upset by the strimming this morning. Eventually an adult appeared and then two cubs but at first they stayed well away from the hide, preferring to be in the long grass rather than come out on the short stuff. At 2330 they began to relax and concentrated on eating peanuts. When I left one of them came above ground again as I locked the door (I usually wait until the badgers are underground or have toddled off before leaving) so I apologised to it for all the noise earlier. It shrugged its shoulders and stood its ground to watch me go.

Thurs 7th June
1030 I gave the Wildlife of the Cairngorms National Park talk to the Probus Club in Grantown on Spey.
2100 Took five members of the Strathdearn Natural History Club to the badger hide. We had at least three badgers and probably more - what with all the comings and goings at different times. The evening end with a spectacular thunder storm.

Fri 8th June
1030 I investigated reports of three dead red squirrels in Aviemore but no one at the scene knew anything.
1130 Back to the badger hide to collect the automatic camera and take it home to download the pictures.
2100 I took another group from the Strathdearn Natural History Club to the badger hide. The weather was much better and we saw three badgers again.

Sun 10th June
2100 Went to the badger hide with four members of the Knutsford Ornithological Club. Very similar evening to other recent ones - one adult badger and two badger cubs. That's at least three consecutive visits when we've only seen two cubs so that might mean we've lost one. Pity.

Mon 11th June
1000 Went to the hide to check out the automatic camera - last night it was not working properly and there was no opportunity to check it out properly. As things turned out the batteries in the camera were dead - which is odd because I thought I had put fresh ones in two days ago. There goes another senior moment folks. The goldeneye duck was still on her eggs.
1100 Topped up all the food at the grebe car park, removed the large seed feeder for modification and brought it back half an hour later.

2100 Went to the badger hide with four members of the Knutsford Ornithological Club. Very similar evening to other recent ones - one adult badger and two badger cubs. It really looks as if we are down to two cubs. The camera is still not working properly.

Tues 12th June
1430 Drove to Glen Elg via Loch Long hoping to watch otters in the dusk. Heavy rain put paid to that so I read in the car till bed time. Sleep was difficult with the loud rain on the car roof but it stopped at 1am and I slept until 5am.

Weds 13th June
0500 Up and made coffee trying to avoid the midges. The new midge net worked very well. I set off along the coastal cliff at 0540 and ten minutes later spied two otters, an adult and a youngster, far below me. If I had been ten minutes earlier I would have been down there with them and probably got good pictures, but it couldn't be helped. I sat in all my favourite places hoping the otters would return but five hours later I had had enough of the cold and the midges so I drove to Chanonry Point where I had lunch and watched for dolphins. Again, no luck, so I drove home.
2000 Bea and I went to the badger hide to check the goldeneye box. The duck was still sitting and the camera seemed to be working properly again.

Fri 15th June
In the morning I attended a meeting of the Scottish Badgers Training Group in Perth at which we discussed the next steps in designing more advanced levels of badger worker.
In the evening I checked some of the nest boxes at Milton Loch with some of the local kids. They all seemed to be empty.

Sat 16th June
2100 I took four people to the badger hide. The goldeneye duck was still on her eggs and we saw both of the badger cubs.

Mon 18th June
1100 Mark Hamblin and I checked the jackdaw nests in both goldeneye Bantick-pole boxes at Milton Loch. The young had all fledged OK.
1130 We went to the badger hide where the incubating goldeneye duck was away feeding, having first covered her eggs thoroughly with down and wood shavings. The eggs were so warm they were almost hot to the touch. She must surely hatch them any day now. We checked the camera and Mark took photos of all the boxes, both goldeneye and pine marten.
1230 Back at the house I gave Mark a CD with lots of goldeneye and pine marten pictures on it, plus a pine marten nest box that he would put up at his place at Duthil.
1800 I prepared the old automatic camera as a back-up for the anticipated goldeneye chick hatching at the badger hide.
1830 I filled up all the feeders at the grebe car park and in our garden. I have been a bit lax lately and they were all almost empty.
2245 At the badger hide I fixed up the old automatic camera alongside the new one to try and catch the goldeneye chicks leaving their box. I stayed around and two badger cubs came out at 2315, followed at 2330 by their mum. On the way home a barn owl flew over the road at Mullingarroch Farm.

Weds 20th June
Nest check in Craigie Wood as follows:
09:54 Box 0701 Nest is empty. Assume there was a successful outcome for the four blue tit chicks.
09:59 Box 0702 No change. Wood 30mm down. Dark feather and old droppings in box
10:05 Box 0703 Wood still just 60mm down but no droppings. Box unused
10:12 Box 0704 Nest empty but one egg unhatched. Assume the other four blue tits fledged.
10:20 Box 0705 Four well grown blue tit chicks, fully feathered and fidgeting around. Will fledge any day now.
10:27 Box 0706 I removed the crested tit nest from the box ready to go to the National Nest Reference collection later today or tomorrow.
10:35 Box 0707 Nest empty but with one unhatched egg in it. Do not know how many eggs or chicks were in this nest. 1
10:40 Box 0708 Wood only 1 inch below hole. Used as a roost - lots of old dung in box plus some dark feathers. Box unused
10:45 Box 0709 Lots of old dry droppings and a spiders web in the box. No sign of current use.
10:50 Box 0710 I removed the crested tit nest from the box ready to go to the National Nest Reference collection later today or tomorrow
10:58 Box 0711 Box still full of wood. No droppings. Unused
11:03 Box 0712 Box still full of wood. Unused
11:04 Box 0714 One dead chick in the nest. Assume the other three blue tit chicks fledged OK
11:20 Box 0713 Nest is empty. Someone else has been checking this nest - the lid wire is broken and there is new wire round it. Assume all six chicks fledged.
11:45 I found a badger latrine by the secret path with fresh dung containing blue beetle wing cases and grain remains.
11:54 I found fox dung in the badger latrine by the secret path near box 13 at NH93031890

Thurs 21st June
1230 I went to the badger hide in a thunder store. The goldeneye duck box was empty so I had high hopes that one of the cameras would have captured the event. Unfortunately one had filled up its card before the chicks had left and the other goes to sleep for 30 seconds each time it takes a shot so the parent duck must have triggered the camera - thus sending it to sleep - and the babies all left before the camera woke up again.

Fri 22nd June
1200 Filled all the feeders at the grebe car park and in our garden.
1230 Set up the old automatic camera by a hole under the fence in Craigie Wood at NH9295.1898 to try and see if badgers are using it.
1430 Removed the three goldeneye boxes from the badger hide and threw the dud eggs from the camouflaged box into the river.
2100 I took the Spencer family to the badger hide. Three badgers came out for half an hour at about 2310.

Sat 23rd June
1100 Attended the SNH Open Day at Great Glen House in Inverness. Chatted usefully to George Hogg, Ann Murray, Ben Leysham and SNH Chairman Andrew Thin. Also spoke to some members of the public who were concerned at threats to a badger sett near their home.
1300 Went to the Muirhead badger sett to check its suitability for a badger training day. It was easy to find but very awkward to get to. It took ages to walk the short distance to the sett across a morass of bog, brash, pits and ditches and would be impossible for anyone even slightly less fit than I am. The sett had nine tunnels, all of which appeared to be in current use with two having been freshly re-excavated in recent weeks. I found faint paths leading between tunnels and through the long grass to a nearby field and an access point through the fieldfence which the badgers had clearly been using to go foraging in the field. I did not find any latrines. I do not think this sett is suitable for a public training session.
1445 I arrived at the airport access roundabout on the A96 NH77415081 and looked for specific examples of bad badger mitigation. At NH77405086 I found a farm gate which was clearly permanently left upon because one of the gates was held firmly in the open position by the long vegetation that had grown up around it so badgers can just walk through onto the road and along to the A96 a short distance away. At NH77195095 there is another gate where both halves are held permanently open by vegetation. At NH77285100 there is a long gap (about 30 to 40 metres long) in the badger fencing through which a rough road passes and which has no gate at all - so badgers can walk straight onto the second roundabout. In short - the badger mitigation around here is a total waste of public money and just plays lip service to the notion of badger protection.
1616 I arrived at Dunkinty Cottages on the outskirts of Elgin There is a single outlier badger sett 12 metres just west of south from the outh corner of the cottages. The sett was inside an old rotten tree stump and judging from the footprints was in current use. In an area of woodland immediately to the south and west of the cottages several pieces of ground had been taped off to mark out the proposed housing plots. I spoke to a gentleman from the development company Springfield Properties who happened to turn up in his car while I was there. I explained my purpose in being there and he told me that work on the cottages would not extend beyond their existing walls but eventually an access road for the development would pass through the area where the sett was. I explained the constraints imposed by the presence of the sett and he suggested I spoke to their contract manager.

Sun 24th June
1430 Topped up the food at the grebe car park.

Mon 25th June 0900 Wrote reports and made phone calls resulting from Saturday's work.2100 Took six people to the badger hide.

Weds 27th June
1030 Scottish Wildlife Trust Council Meeting in Perth.

Thurs 28th June
0900 I returned the food bins to the Community Garden having cleaned them and dried them out - someone had left the lid off and the rain got in.
1200 Filled all the feeders in the garden and at the grebe car park. I then reinstalled the old camera in Craigie Wood.
1630 Bea and I looked at a possible site for a heronry viewing platform or hide near Milton Loch.
Fri 29th June
1130 Met with James Grant and Donald Watt of the Boat of Garten Golf Club to discuss the design and installation of badger doors in the perimeter fence to alleviate their rabbit problem. While we were out there we found a robin nest with eggs on a wooded bank beside the Kinchurdy Farm track.
2215 I went to the badger hide on my own. One badger came out at 2245 then two more joined the first at 2305 - mum and the two cubs. They fed on peanuts and chocolate spread sandwiches for another forty minutes before wandering off in search of worms.

Sat 30th June
1800 Topped up the food at the grebe car park then checked the old auto camera in Craigie Woods. The batteries had run down but there were lots of pictures - notably red squirrels, badgers and a fox.

Sun 1st July
1000 While playing golf at Abernethy Bea and I found a dead common lizard on the 3rd fairway.
1900 I set up two autocameras in the same place in Craigie Woods as last time.
2145 I took two people to the badger hide. Just the two cubs seen.

Mon 2nd July
1900 Put out both auto cameras in Craigie Wood
2030 Gave a talk on the wildlife of the Cairngorms National Park at the village hall

Tues 3rd July
0900 Checked the auto cameras - not much on the cards apart from squirrels and wood mice.
2030 Went back to the cameras and put out lots of food to attract badgers and foxes
2200 I took Lindsey Buchanan to the badger hide. We saw two adults but no cubs. I wonder where they have gone.

Weds 4th July
1630 I brought the remote cameras home. The heavy rain is defeating them so there was not much of note on the cards.
2200 I went to the badger hide on my own and sat outside. Two cubs came out to eat peanuts and then their mother turned up. She is more nervous of me than the cubs who don't mind if I talk to them, although they quite properly keep their distance.

Fri 6th July
2130 I took Donald Watt and family to the badger hide. We had three badgers - two cubs and an adult male.

Sat 7th July
2145 Badger hide on my own. I talked to mother badger and the two cubs for a while and they were quite laid back about it.

Sun 8th July
16.30 I fed the birds and beasts at the grebe car park
2140 Badger hide again on my own. Similar evening to last night but with the added excitement of an osprey catching a fish just eighty metres downstream from the hide. This is a first for the hide.

General comment - not much wildlife work at the moment. I am taking a bit of a break to redecorate the house and play some golf.

Thurs 12th July
2145 to 2330 I went to the hide on my own again. Two cubs at 2217 then an adult. Continuous badger action, including climbing trees, until I had to leave.

Fri 13th July
I drove to Kirkhill, near Inverness, to investigate a report of a badger making a nuisance of itself under a house and chalet. It now looks as if it is probably not a badger but more likely a pine marten or fox. The owners will complete some work they are doing on the premises and if the problem does not solve itself I will then install a camera to identify the culprits.

Sun 15th July
2130 I went to the badger hide on my own. All three badgers came out at 2145 and ate nuts and honey sandwiches for an hour before wandering away left.

Tues 17th July
1930 I strimmed the grass at the badger hide
2130 I went back to the hide with food and promptly fell asleep.
2255 I woke up and all three of the usual badgers were there, eating nuts and chocolate sandwiches on their newly cut lawn as if nothing had happened. I went home at 2320. When I got home the following email was waiting for me from Bob Welch:

"You might be interested to note this badger sighting(my first ever in the wild!). Adult or adolescent badger spotted on south east ridge of An Socach(Glen Cannich) at about 600/700 metres altitude on sunday 15th july 2007."

Further enquiries established the map reference was NH 109 314 and the time was 11:15am. Amazing - and it just goes to show badgersmight be found almost anywhere.

Weds 18th July
2030 Took a group of six people to the badger hide. The trip was organised by Saranne Bish - a Ranger for Highland Regional Council. A long late night was had by all but we saw osprey, woodmouse, brown hare, roe deer, sand martin and eventually badgers.

Fri 20th July
2100 To the badger hide with a family of five people. The usual three badgers seen but they did not turn up until 2235 and they came from an unusual direction so they have maybe moved house to a different sett - as sometimes happens with badgers that are fortunate enough to have choices in the matter.

Sat 21st July2030 Filled the feeders at the grebe car park
2100 Took two people to the badger hide. We stayed until 2345 but no badgers appeared.

Mon 23rd July
2130 I took myself to the badger hide as I was slightly concerned at no badger sightings on Saturday. The first thing I noticed was that three tunnels at the upper sett close to where I had strimmed the grass short were newly re-excavated. Two badgers came out of the tunnel immediately in front of the hide within five minutes of my settling down to watch - it was the youngsters. Their Mum came out soon after. I did not stay long - satisfied that there was nothing amiss after all.

Tues 24th July
2115 Went to the hide on my own but there were no badgers for quite a while so I went looking for them. I found two along the terrace atthe upper sett. One came trotting along the terrace and when it was only a yard away it realised who and what I was and panicked. It took the shortest route it knew to safety, which was a tunnel behind my boots, and sprinted past me, brushing against my leg in the process. Needless to say I saw no more badgers that night.

Fri 27th July
0930 Took peanuts to the hide and checked how last night's group got on. They saw three badgers.
1030 Tried to check the robins nest near the golf course but the grassy bank is now so overgrown I could not find it. They've probably hatched and fledged by now anyway.

Sat 28th July
0700 Mike Russell, Scottish Environment Minister, spoke on the BBC Radio Scotland Out Of Doors programme about the prospects ofbeaver reintroduction to Scotland. He made what almost amounts to a promise that beavers will be back soon and he expects some kind of action within a year.
0900 We saw a black headed gull this morning for the last time this year.

Sun 29th July
2120 Bea and I to the badger hide. A badger came out almost immediately but dog walkers came by after half an hour and scared the badgers into diving we took the opportunity to go home.

Mon 30th July
2030 I did the Wildlife of the Cairngorms National Park talk in the village hall.

Tues 31st July
1945 Bea and I went to Glenmore Lodge for the premier of the Thin Green Line - a film about Rangers in different countries.

Weds 1st August
2130 I went to the badger hide on my own. I saw four badgers - the most we have seen together for several months.

Fri 3rd August
1630 Bea and I refilled the food and water at the grebe car park. Every scrap of food was gone - my fault for being too busy playing golf and refurbishing our house.

Tues 7th Aug
1230 I refilled all the feeders at the grebe car park. Still too busy with the house for much wildlife work.
1500 Several reports of a dead badger on the A95 at Tullochgorum. I passed this on to Scottish Badgers but too busy to check sex and weight.

Weds 8th Aug
2100 To the badger hide with 7 guests. We saw the two young badgers - who appear to have moved house to the upper sett.

Thurs to Sun - away for the weekend

Mon 13th Aug
2030 I gave the Wildlife of the Cairngorms talk in the village hall. Still too busy with the house to do much wildlife stuff.

Tues 14th Aug
2040 I went to the badger hide on my own. No badgers until 2230, then two arrived and began eating. At 2245 a car drove along the river side and stopped and the driver got out and struck up a conversation with me which scared the badgers off. On the way back across the field I found some tents and three-wheeled bicycles behind a patch of trees out of sight of the road. Someone was getting a free campsite.

Sun 19th Aug
0930 Filled the feeders in the garden and at the grebe car park.
2030 I took three people to the badger hide. We saw 3 badgers - all at the upper sett. They were in view for forty minutes.

Fri 24th Aug
1000 Mark Hamblin and I checked the TG main badger sett and found it to be extremely active. There were more than fifteen active tunnels plus quite a lot of inactive ones. On the way out we found what Mark thought was a wildcat scat. It was on an obvious path and therefore almost certainly placed there as a marker.

Sun 26th Aug
0830 I filled the feeders and cleaned the bird baths at the grebe car park and in the garden.
2030 I took a party of four to the badger hide and we had a very good evening with badgers on view for an hour. The most we saw at one time was four badgers and the guests took photos as the badgers ate nuts, apples and chocolate sandwiches and climbed trees to find the food I had hidden in the bark.

Weds 29th Aug
0900 As a result of an early morning phone call I went and checked on a dead badger near the village. It was a male weighing just 6.5 kgs on the B970 at Mains of Garten NH 9647 1986 - probably one of this year's cubs.. Sent the details to Scottish Badgers.
1430 We took the grandchildren to Fort George and watched some dolphins from the ramparts.

Thurs 30th Aug
1030 We put out a camera in the local woods and set some traps for small mammals. We also filled the feeders at the grebe car park and spoke to some people who had seen a red kite over the nearby fields earlier in the week.
1930 We checked the traps - nothing caught - and then went to the badger hide. We saw 3 badgers.

Fri 31st Aug
0730 We checked the camera and the traps but there was nothing of interest on the camera card and no animals in the traps. We brought all the equipment home because I was too busy over the next few days to keep checking it.

Sat 1st Sept
1000 Meeting of the Scottish Badgers Advisory Group in Perth.

Sun 2nd Sept
0900 Updated the Highland Badger Network website and emailed the network members
1000 Gavin Eastwood told us a badger trotted beside him along Kinchurdy Road one evening this week. It came out of a garden opposite the old hotel and veered off after 100 metres into another garden.

Weds 5th Sep
1930 To the badger hide with two guests from New Zealand. Four badgers seen.

Sat 8th Sep
Filled the bird feeders at the grebe car park and at home

Sun 9th Sep
Filled the water bath at the grebe car park - it was totally dry
2000 Went to the badger hide on my own. Got soaked on the way across the field. Saw 3 badgers.

Mon 10th Sep
2000 Badger hide with 5 guests. We saw 3 badgers at close quarters

Tues 11th Sep
Travelled to Newark for a council meeting of the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts.

Fri 14th Sep
1945 To the badger hide with 5 guests again. We had 4 badgers this time and we watched them engage in mutual grooming and climbing trees.

Sat 15th Sep
Bea and I filled up the bird feeders at the grebe car park. They require refilling now much more often than in the summer months.

Mon 17th Sep
I spent much of the morning on phone calls and emails connected with the beaver reintroduction project.
2030 Went to the badger hide on my own. Two badgers turned up as soon as I announced my presence and they got stuck into the food I brought for them - although they did not appreciate my attempts to strike up a conversation. Unsociable lot!

Tues 18th Sep
Bea and I attended a meeting of the Highland Red Squirrel Group at Dingwall.

Weds 19th Sep
I spent the morning preparing three different badger talks for three different groups of people over the next few weeks.
1600 I prepared three goldeneye boxes for the 2008 season
2000 I went to the badger hide and took two of the goldeneye boxes with me. I put one of the boxes up near the hide but the other will go up at another time. Four badgers came out within ten minutes of me letting them known I was there. They started at the upper sett and then moved to the lower sett. I sat on the ground outside with them but at one point I sneezed which sent them scuttling off to hide. Ten minutes later three of the badgers were back out again and they settled down to a bit of mutual grooming but made a point of keeping their distance from me.

Fri 21st Sept
1200 Filled all the feeders at the grebe car park

Sat 22nd Sept
1000 Scottish Badgers Conference at Oatridge. It was well attended and a great success - possibly due to the rush of enthusiasm generated by the upcoming national badger survey. I ran a workshop called Badger Up A Tree, about watching badgers.

Sun 23rd
2000 I went to the badger hide on my own. This was as much to get the simple pleasure of being out of doors as anything - I have spent far too much time lately at meetings and pumping this computer. I sat outside the hide with four badgers a few feet away and that instantly restored my good humour. The coming week is to be a succession of meetings and talks involving long journeys by train or car so by this time next week I will once again be in real need of a fresh injection of wild stuff.

Mon 24th Sept
0930 I went back to the badger hide and fixed up the remaining goldeneye boxes. I also adjusted the bolt on the door to the hide. The door had dropped slightly since we rebuilt it last winter and the bolt did not fit properly any more. It does now. I swept the hide while I was there.
1200 Two crested tits in the garden. We've also had a red squirrel a couple of times in the last few days.
2000 Back to the badger hide in pouring rain. Four badger again but not at very close quarters - they seemed nervous of the hide, which is unusual.

Tues 25th Sep
2000 I went back to the hide on my own. The three badgers that I saw were still a bit nervous and kept their distance. They will be getting almost a week of peace and quite after tomorrow so hopefully they'll settle down.

Weds 26th Sep
1330 Phone call from the farmer's wife (or daughter?) to say they had to start bio-security measures at the badger hide fields due to the foot and mouth disease scare.
1500 I went to Grantown and bought the proper disinfectant from the vet. When we got it home we found it was nearly a year past its expiry date - so I phoned the vet's office to let them know. The lady there was suitably shocked and scuttled off to check the rest of her stock.
1600 I installed a disinfectant foot bath at the gate to the badger hide fields. Let's hope it's all over soon.
1700 Local children came to our door to tell of an injured red squirrel. We went to the forest and collected the animal - it had trouble controlling its movements - probably the victim of a road collision. We put it in a pet carrier with food and then Bea took it to the vets in Grantown who thought it had nerve damage.
1930 I took two people to the badger hide where we saw six roe deer and three badgers. A badger came above ground even before I had got back into the hide after putting out some food. A very pleasant evening.

Thurs 27th Sep
1030 Meeting of the Scottish Wildlife Trust Council at Cramond, Edinburgh.
I spoke to Bea on the phone during the day and our squirrel had died over night at the vet's. Possibly due to internal bleeding, stress and nerve damage combined.

Fri 28th Sep
1045 Filled the feeders at the community garden
1050 Filled the feeders at the new village hall
1105 Went to the grebe car park and found the feeders had all been vandalised. They had been removed from their various positions on trees and in the wire cage and just thrown on the ground. I tried to phone the Aviemore police station on my mobile but the signal was not good enough so I went home and phoned from there. The lady said she would report it but could not say if a policeman would phone back or visit. I decided not to go and repair the damage yet in case the police wanted to see it for themselves - "scene of crime" and all that jazz. No harm in taking photos though.

1145 I went and took the photos.
1200 The police phoned to say they will call round in about an hour. I phoned the chairman of the Community Council to let her know. The last time these feeders were vandalised was less than two years ago. On that occasion the police reported the damage to me on 13th Dec 05 - it had happened while we were away in Belarus.

Sat 29th Sep
1500 Bea and I checked the above feeders - all was well.
1930 I went to the badger hide with food. Three badgers came out straight away and generally ignored me sitting on their grass. I got some nice pictures.

Sun 30th Sep
1915 I went to the hide and happened to meet the farmer at the field gate. He had padlocked the gate because his cattle had got out on 12th July due to someone leaving the gate open - which he assumed was us. I assured him it was not because of the careful training given to all guides. It did not seem to have occurred to him that anyone else might have gone into the field but I managed to convince him otherwise.
1940 There was a badger waiting for me near the hide. I sat down outside the hide in the drizzle and had three badgers quite soon. On the way back across the field I met another badger and watched as it slid under the fence and up the bank to its sett where it turned and looked down at me. We had a short conversation before I went home.

Mon 1st Oct
1930 Gave a talk on badgers to the Callander Scottish Wildlife Trust group.

Tues 2nd Oct
1930 Meeting organised by BoGWiG called "Wildlife for Beginners" for the Boat of Garten villagers who might fancy getting involved but who mistakenly do not think themselves skilled or knowledgeable enough to join BoGWiG. Tonight's subject was badgers - a basic talk on badgers, then a chat about conservation measures that people can get involved in - for example learning to guide groups to the badger hide and taking part in the National Badger Survey that is about to get under way. There were only six of us altogether which is disappointing.

Weds 3rd Oct
0740 Police (Eric Sharkie) knocked on my door and presented me with a dead badger. It was a female weighing 10.75 kgs and was killed on the road just 200 yards from our house near the grebe car park entrance - NH9332 1904.
1000 I set up the remote camera on the Boat of Garten Golf Course and gave instructions how to switch it on and off to Alan Dobie the head greenkeeper.
1030 I took the dead badger to SNH Achantoul and put it into the freezer for later collection by the museum people. While I was there I was told of two badger road victims last week - one near the Aviemore fish farm and the other at Feshiebridge.
1100 I walked to the Tullochgribben badger sett to make sure all was well. I received a report from SNH yesterday that four badgers were seen in a field opposite Muchrack Hotel in broad daylight so the possibility of disturbance at Tullochgribben occurred to me. Thankfully all was just fine. I later spoke to the hotel staff but none of them knew anything about badgers being seen. On the walk out from the woods I found a fox den under the fence along the forest edge.

1930 Badger hide on my own. Had four badgers almost at once plus, when I left, a fox in the field between the hide and the gate. I had it 'locked' in the torch beam but as soon as I tried to get my camera out it heard me and ran off.

Thurs 4th Oct
1800 A lady phoned to say she had just taken her dog for a walk and she saw a rabbit near the 9th tee of the old 9 hole Dalfaber golf course. She then walked into the trees to look at the holes that had been blocked (and then re-dug) and when she looked down one of the tunnels a badger was looking out at her.

Fri 5th Oct
1930 Badger hide on my own again. Had three badgers almost at once plus, when I left, a fox in the field between the hide and the gate. I had it 'locked' in the torch beam but as soon as I tried to get my camera out it heard me and ran off. This is the second time in a week I have seen a fox in that field. There was also a roe deer and a brown hare in the same field.

Sun 7th Oct
1720 I checked the remote camera at the Boat Gold Club sheds but nothing had been recorded.
1915 Badger hide on my own again. Four badgers this time but no fox.

Mon 8th Oct
1900 Took two friends to the badger hide. We had three badgers on view for about 40 minutes.

Tues 9th to Thurs 11th Oct
UK LBAP Conference in Aviemore. Bea and I attended wearing various different hats.

Fri 12th Oct
1000 to 1530 Bea and I conducted part of a red squirrel drey survey in Beachan Wood Grantown on Spey. We will continue tomorrow and if necessary complete it on Monday.

Sat 13th Oct
1000 I continued with the red squirrel survey, concentrating on a small wood to the north of the main area.
1200 I filled the feeders at the grebe car park, then did the same at the new village hall. Unfortunately some of the local idiots had damaged the feeders so I went home for tools to fix them (the feeders, not the idiots, although I will be sorely tempted if I catch them).

Mon 15th Oct
1430 Bea and I continued with the red squirrel survey of Beachan Wood and nearly got it finished. We'll do the last bit on Wednesday.

Tues 16th Oct
1430 Dalfaber with Sarah from SNH to assess the badger sett situation near some houses. Three tunnels had previously been blocked by person or persons unknown but local residents believed the badgers had reopened at least some of the tunnels. On this visit we found the following:

Tunnel 1 Clear signs of badger use. Mossy bedding was visible in the tunnels entrance and we found badger hairs in the spoil.
Tunnel 2 Some signs of badger use. Mossy bedding in the tunnel entrance but the spoil heap was very small and we did not look for hairs.
Tunnel 3 This tunnel was blocked by a large log which was too heavy for the badgers to move and it took Sarah and I and a lot of effort to dig it out. Having done so we could now see a sizeable tunnel. We then found badger hairs in the spoil heap.
1900 Badger hide with a chap and his two young sons. Three badgers seen.

Weds 17th Oct
0900 I finished off the last bit of the red squirrel survey and wrote the report.

Thurs 18th Oct
0800 Checked the camera at the golf club (nothing much to report) and filled all the feeders at the community garden, village hall and the grebe car park prior to going away for a few days.
1000 Drove to Knapdale, Argyll for the local consultation on the proposed beaver reintroduction trial.
1600 Went to the Marine Science Lab at Dunstaffnage near Oban to help get set up for the evening and to be shown around the lab
1900 Returned to the Marine Science Lab where Simon Jones, SWT Reserves Manager for the area, gave a presentation about the beaver trial. More than 100 people attended and all but 2 or 3 were strongly in favour of the beaver coming to Knapdale.

Fri 19th Oct
1100 Beaver meeting at the Cairnbaan Hotel, Lochgilphead. This is where we put our heads in the lion's mouth by inviting people and interested agencies to two presentations (Simon Milne and Iain Valentine) on the beaver trial, to be followed by a discussion session which I would chair. We did this in the full knowledge that several of those invited were strongly opposed to the return of the beaver. It was a very difficult session with strong views expressed in uncompromising and abusive terms by some of the audience but those of us on the panel (myself, Simon Milne, Simon Jones, Iain Valentine, Roy Dennis and Edwin Blake) had to try and remain calm and answer the opposing arguments with facts and logic. In amongst the arguments we did manage to glean a few points which were relevant and which we shall pursue, so the session was useful after all. Everyone stayed for lunch during which tempers calmed down and in most cases we parted on reasonable terms.

After lunch Simon Jones took some of us on a guided tour of the Knapdale reserve. What a wonderful place and ideal for the beavers - lots of water, lots of space and lots of veggie food. We visited Bellanoch Viewpoint ,Loch Fidhle where we clambered down through wet vegetation past the first loch to a point overlooking the main loch at the bottom of a vegetated cliff which we declined to descend. We then drove to Loch Coille Bharr with its shallow rocky bottom and shoreline and finally visited Rubh and Oib on Loch Sween, a magical sea loch where one might expect to see an otter at any moment. This excursion did much to dispel the stress left over from the morning's unpleasant meeting.

Sat 20th Oct
This was a drop-in day at Knapdale where we all dressed casually in our beaver trial tee shirts and chatted about the beaver trial to those who turned up. There were about 70 local visitors in all but I excused myself around 11am and began the long drive home.

Sun 21st Oct
1900 I took an Australian couple to the badger hide. The badgers were quite slow to come out but eventually we had three of them on view.

Mon 22nd Oct
1930 I gave the Wildlife of the Cairngorms National Park talk to the Pitlochry SWT people. It was a very pleasant evening with an attentive audience of thirty or so people. Question time afterwards featured mainly today's awful news about the proposed badger cull and the rather better news about the likelihood of the beaver trial going ahead quite soon.

Tues 23rd Oct
1745 I went to the badger hide with Shirley Lynch (bat expert) and her two youngsters Iain and Calum. Shirley was able to tell by using her bat detector that we had two types of pipistrelle bat flying around - the 45khz and the 55khz versions. At 1840 a badger came out to see what was going on and ten minutes later there was a second one.

Weds 24th Oct
0750 I checked the camera at the Boat of Garten Golf Club. Quite a few shots were taken since I last checked 48 hours ago, including one of a large grey and white cat with a fat, striped, tabby tail. Could be some wildcat history there.

Thurs 25th Oct
1930 I gave the Wildlife of the Cairngorms National Park talk to the RSPB in Inverness. A very nice audience of about 50 people.

Fri 26th Oct
1750 I checked the remote camera at the golf club. It had taken a few pictures of a badger plus one of the fat cat with the club tail. The green keeper thinks the cat belongs to one of the local houses.
1100 Went to the badger hide to top up peanuts for the next two weeks
1130 On the way home a stoat carrying prey crossed the road just outside Street of Kincardine where the Mullingarroch burn crosses the road at NH 9477 1818.

Sat 27th Oct
0930 I filled the feeders at the grebe car park, the village hall and our garden
1630 I reset the camera at the golf club for the last time.

Sun 28th Oct
1330 Fungus Foray in the woods behind our village hall for 2 hours. There were 16 of us including the leader Liz Howden (?). Most enjoyable afternoon and we found lots of fungii and took photos.

Mon 29th Oct
0800 I removed the camera from the golf club. It had more pictures of a badger and a cat. I made CD copies of all the photos and sent them to the golf club.
11.00 Starlings and a blue tit checking out the nest boxes in the garden. They must be nuts!
18.00 I went to the badger hide in the rain. Four badgers on show within twenty minutes, but two came close to the hide just as I let go a sneeze - so that was that.

Tues 30th Oct
1000 Meetings at Cramond with Simon Milne about beavers and with Stuart Brooks about the conservation department.

Fri 2nd Nov
1045 I attended the annual SWT staff conference at Dunkeld.

Sat/Sun 3rd/4th Nov
Took the full brunt of having my eBay, PayPal and Hotmail identities stolen. Repaired the damage as best I could.

Mon 5th Nov
Went by train to Edinburgh for a week of beaver work.
1130 Meeting with Simon Milne and David Windmill at the Mansion House at the Zoo to finalise the agenda for the afternoon's inaugural meeting of the beaver steering group.
1400 to 1630 Steering Group meeting. All members were there and everything went as planned. The overall timetable was confirmed and a few of the details were pencilled in.
1700 Nick Purdy drove he and I to the Travel Lodge at Glasgow Airport where we spent a comfortable night.

Tues 6th to Fri 9th Nov
Expedition to Norway with other members of the project team. In my opinion the expedition was a great success. We all learned things we did not previously know about beavers, however the greatest value lay in engaging with the beavers, seeing and moving about in their environment and having all of those things interpreted for us by the experts on the spot. Those of us who were privileged to take part in this exercise can now speak about beavers with greater authority and with enhanced confidence that the beaver trial at Knapdale will be a success.

Sun 11th Nov
0900 I filled up all the feeders at the grebe car park, community hall and community garden. Went to the badger hide and retrieved the log book and then made out the invoice to Mountview.

Bea and I decided on a new website - - and went ahead and ordered it from Easyspace.

Mon 12th Nov
I wrote the report on the Norway trip for Council. I also spoke with the Chief Executive about the trip and other beaver matters.
Weds 14th Nov
0930 Carried out a red squirrel survey in a small wood at Reelig between Beauly and Inverness. I found nine dreys plus signs of roe deer and badger, including abusy badger latrine near the north end of the wood.
1930 Gave a badger talk to the Arthritis Care group in Grantown on Spey

Fri 16th Nov
Wrote the report on the survey at Reelig
1600 Short walk in the local woods to ensure the expected thinning operation was well clear of anything sensitive. I couldn't find it - I think it must be too far in for me to reach it before dark. I'll try again another day.

Sat 17th Nov
Phone call quite early from a lady reporting a dead badger. I went along mid morning to find it and it was beside the A95 at map ref NH 9115 1804 between Kinveachy junction and Loch Vaa. It was a large male badger weighing 14.5kgs. Must have caused quite a dent in the car that hit it.
I spent most of the rest of the day watching football (Scotland lost to Italy) and building the new website "".

Mon 19th Nov
Attended a meeting of the SWT Conservation Committee. Was appointed Vice Convener.

Tues 20th Nov
Began a red squirrel survey of a large woodland at Aldourie Castle, Dores, by Loch Ness. Bea and Ian Imlack took part. A nice day and a beautiful woodland. Got home to an avalanche of emails.

Weds 21st Nov
Bea and I did a second day of surveying at Aldourie. The weather got worse and worse and we got home drenched. Bea had a tick which she removed with TCP and tweezers. We did find a badger sett at NH 5980 3575

Thurs 22nd Nov
We should have done more surveying today but the weather was foul and our gear was still soaked so we postponed until tomorrow - the weather is supposed to be better. Later today I found I also had a tick from yesterday but did not have the patience to use TCP and made a right mess of pulling it out. I'm sure there's some left in there. Spent the day writing reports and reading up for meetings next week.

Fri 23rd Nov
Bea found another tick from Wednesday. We carried on with the Auldourie survey today but did not quite get it finished. The weather behaved very well and we made good progress but daylight defeated us in the end.

Sat 24th Nov
First thing I filled the bird feeders at the grebe car park and our garden but ran out of peanuts and had to go to the shop to buy more, by which it time it was too late to finish the job before heading off to finish the Aldourie survey. The weather was mixed with dry spells and heavy showers. We did not find any dreys in the final two sections but an estate worker told us he had seen squirrels in the area. We did find several deer beds, badger snuffle holes, a badger latrine, a single-tunnel badger sett (NH60653680) and lots of pheasants. We got home at lunch time and later I filled the feeders at the community garden and community hall. In the evening I plotted all the dreys on the map for the Aldourie survey.

Sun 25th Nov
1000 Bea and I joined the RSPB at Abernethy for a pond digging session.
1720 I went to the badger hide for an hour. I had three badgers almost straight away but one of them got spooked by something (possibly me) and that was the last I saw of them.

Mon 26th Nov
11.00 Meeting with SNH in Inverness to do with the beaver trial.

Tues 27th Nov
Spent most of the day doing bird and beaver admin.

Weds 28th Nov
Sent off completed Schedule 1 bird report forms to the BTO.
1300 Set off for Glasgow to do a badger talk this evening for the Glasgow and Clydeside SWT Member Centre. Ruth And Tony Llewellyn very kindly put me up.

Thurs 29th Nov
Drove home and spent the afternoon on beaver work.

Fri 30th Nov
More beaver work, then went out and filled the bird and squirrel feeders all overthe village. Spent the rest of the morning making a start on my annual IPMR bird nesting records. It's a bit of a pain and the programme is a bit fiddly so the job always takes longer than you think it ought to.

Tues 4th Dec
Meeting of the Scottish Beaver Steering Group at the Link offices in Perth. We made good progress on the development of the license application.
1830 BoGWiG "Wildlife for Everyone" session in the village hall. Mike Taylor did a super presentation for us on Capercaillie.

Weds 5th Dec
I began a squirrel and badger survey of some of the woodland at Auchgourish. Found very little in the way of squirrel dreys and feeding signs but badgers were active there.

Fri 7th Dec
I spent the morning at Auchgourish and once again there was more badger evidence than squirrel. I also found signs of fox and pine marten and a crested tit came to see what I was up to.

Sat 8th Dec
Bea and I did a bit more of the Auchgourish woodland. Similar story plus signs of red deer. Roe deer are common in these woods despite the high fences but red deer are a bit unusual.

Mon 10th Dec
1000 Continued with the Auchgourish Survey. A few dreys found and some badger signs. I actually saw a squirrel which helped. There is a considerable deer presence in the wood which is hardly surprising considering the large holes in the perimeter fence.

Tues 11th Dec
1000 More surveying at Auchgourish. No dreys found but saw some deer and badger signs.

Weds 12th Dec
1030 Scottish Wildlife Trust Council meeting in Edinburgh.

Fri 14th Dec
1000 Meeting at the Edinburgh Zoo to do with the proposed beaver trial. Representatives from our steering group discussed what are perceived as potential problems by some of the concerned stakeholders. We did this in the presence of officials from SNH and Scottish Government and I think we all understand each other a little better as a result of the meeting.

Sat 15th Dec
Bea and I continued with the Auchgourish survey. We found a few dreys and several badger setts.

Sun 16th Dec
I filled the feeders at the grebe car park, village hall and community garden. Vandals had once again interfered with the feeders at the grebe car park and actually stolen one of the mesh feeders. I am at a loss as to what to do about this. If any of the culprits read this please get in touch so we can talk it through.

Mon 17th Dec
1000 I took more food to the bird feeders at the grebe car park and fitted a padlock to the cage. We'll see how that works.

Tues 18th Dec
Travelled by train to Newark for the RSWT Council Meeting tomorrow.

Weds 19th Dec
RSWT Council meeting in Newark. Got home at 2300.

Thurs 20th Dec
Press releases went out concerning the proposed beaver trial. We'll see what reaction we get.
1100 I checked the grebe car park again. So far so good and no further damage done to the feeders.

Fri 21st Dec
1100 Went to the grebe car park again with more food.
Today is the day for the beaver trial application to go in to the Scottish Government. Fingers crossed that the minister remains enthusiastic.

Mon 24th Dec
I filled all the feeders at the grebe car park, our house and the community garden.
1900 I went to the badger hide for half an hour but saw no badgers

Tues 25th Dec Christmas Day
1200 Bea and I went for a long walk to work up an appetite for our Christmas dinner and to plan our advertised public wildlife walk for 2nd Jan. We walked from the hall up towards the grebe car park, finding squirrel dreys and feeding signs as we went. We then went along the triangle to the crossroads where anyone not wanting a long walk could peel off back to the hall. We then went to the end of Kinchurdy Road, crossed the railway line and went down to the river which we followed back to the village. On the way we visited a couple of badger setts, looked for badger and otter signs (we found badger footprints in the sand by the river) and saw male and female goldeneye ducks. Altogether it took about 2.5 hours.

Weds 26th Dec Boxing Day
1000 I filled the feeders at the community garden and at the village hall. I then began sorting out the crested tit boxes for the coming season. I moved box 14 to a more logical place and repaired its lid. I also decided on a new location for box 13 so that it was less likely to be interfered with, as it was last year.

Fri 28th Dec
1100 Checked on a reported badger sett in the railway embankment opposite the Loch Vaa car park. At first glance it looks very much like a badger sett but in fact it is a rabbit warren.
Later I updated and backed up my databases.

....and that completes my wildlife activities for 2007.

See you all next year.