Cairngorm Wildlife Diary for 2011

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.   Locations of sensitive nests and dens are kept deliberately vague for obvious reasons. If you have a bone fide reason for more detail please let me know. 

Enjoy the diary and please do get in touch if you have any comments to make.   Pardon the slightly confusing layout - the days are in order but the months are in reverse to avoid too much scrolling.  Next year I'll devise a more user friendly layout.


December 2011

Thurs 1st Dec
Found lots of capercaillie droppings along the glove path near Bobby's shortcut at NH 9349 1843. There was a squirrel dray in a nearby tree. Put the trail cam facing the dead pheasant near the cycle path.

Fri 2nd Dec
Fox prints in the snow on the moor this morning. 1100 I filled the bird feeders around the village. Checked the trail cam - just a roe deer.

Mon 5th Dec
0800 fox prints on the moor again. 1030 housing meeting in the village hall. 1530 - I retrieved the trail cam - just a dog on it.

Tues 6th Dec
Attended Russell Coope's funeral at Perth Crematorium.

Weds 7th Dec
Train to Edinburgh - it broke down and arrived an hour late. Afternoon meeting with officials from RZSS to finalise arrangements for the hand over of the Chair of the Beaver Trial Steering Group at this the halfway point in the project. Later I attended the RSPB Christmas Reception at Dynamic Earth, Holyrood. Excellent evening and some useful conversations with friends from other environmental organisations.

Thurs 8th Dec
Foul weather all over Scotland today with thousands of trees blown over, some damage to buildings and widespread travel chaos. Two members of SWT Council failed to make it to today's Council meeting but we still had more than enough for a quorum. Excellent meeting with good discussions, some crucial decisions and a clear steer for senior managers. The journey home did not go smoothly. The train journey that should have taken 3 hours actually took 8 hours and I did not get home until 0100 on Friday.

Fri 9th Dec
Lots of filing after all the meetings before going out to fill all the village public bird feeders.

Sat 10th Dec
Deer prints in the snow along the pavement outside our house and fox prints along the grass verge opposite. While out with the dogs I fitted the trail cam to a tree by a small animal track near the dog-walkers loop in the woods, roughly NH 9327 1862. It can stay there for a few days. 1445 a TV Director arrived for me to show him some hot spots for crested tits and red squirrels - watch this space.

Sun 11th Dec
Bit of a thaw. Blue tits investigating the shed sparrow gallery.

Tues 13th Dec
1500 collected the trail cam from NH 932186 - mostly just dog walkers but also a fox at 0743 on Sunday.

Weds 14th Dec
Train to Newark prior to a RSWT Council meeting next day. Out to dinner with other trustees and senior staff.

Thurs 15th Dec
RSWT Council meeting. Was asked to join the Board of another organisation - will give it some thought.

Fri 16th Dec
Put the trail cam on a new track between the Discrete Path and Kinchurdy Road gardens at NH 9358 1817.    Back at home I cleaned out the badger hide lights.

Sat 17th Dec
1100 went round the village and topped up all the public bird feeders. There was a red squirrel at both the grebe car park and lorry park feeders when I arrived. I then painted the insides of the badger hide lights with white paint to compensate for the fact that silver backing had almost all fallen off. Saw a red squirrel on the lorry park feeder at 1400 - very late in the date to see a squirrel at this time of year. Removed the trail cam from its new site because tomorrow it goes to Street of Kincardine where a cat or badger or pine marten has been stealing the house-cat's food in the garden of one of the houses.  Watch this space.

Sun 18th Dec
0900 more snow overnight. Fox prints on the moor - the fox had hurdled the fence - not at a post or over the gate where it would have been easy and safe, but straight over the top strand of barbed wire. Maybe it was chasing something. There were also 2 roe deer in an adjacent field.

Tues 20th Dec
Took the repaired lights to the badger hide and installed inside rather than on the roof. Spectacular failure - the lights not only bounced back off the glass and dazzled the occupants but also illuminated them nicely for all wildlife to see. These light fittings being no longer weather proof and therefore not suitable to put back on the roof the time has come to look into new ones. Before leaving the hide I set up the old Olympus trail cam. I also took note that the broken birch tree in front of the hide had finally succumbed to the gales and was lying across part of the sett - must consider how to move it.

Weds 21st Dec
Installed the Bushnell cam at the house of friends in Street of Kincardine to try to film a cat that had been seen in the area. One of them then came with me to the badger hide where we found that no pictures had been taken on the Olympus cam. Teh friend remarked that he had a chain saw and would be glad to get rid of the fallen tree. Brilliant.

Thurs 22nd Dec
Happy Birthday to me.

Fri 23rd Dec
My friend removed the tree from the hide today. Great. Bea and I went to the Springwatch Snag where there were some rotten trees for us to plunder for filling crested tit nest boxes. We then refilled boxes 17 to 27 before lunch and boxes 1 to 3 after lunch. Box 4 needs a new lid and box 16 needs a new front. Later I went to the hide to see how my friend had got on - brilliant, the whole tree had been taken away and the sett was now unblocked. I checked the Olympus cam and found it to be still working fine so I left well alone.

Sat 24th Dec
Too stiff from yesterday's efforts to do more today so I just did the rounds of refilling the village bird feeders. Went on line and ordered a 12volt exterior floodlight for the hide. If it turns out to be any good I'll order more.

Sun 25th Dec - Christmas Day
Removed the Olympus cam from the badger hide. No animal pictures on the card - just wind-induced movement shots.

Mon 26th Dec
Boxing Day - Bea and I continued with the crestie box refurbishment, spending three hours getting more dead wood from a standing dead tree and then and using it to refill boxes 8 to 16. We also gave box 16 a new front. We would finish the job (boxes 4 to 7) another day.

Tues 27th Dec
There was a kestrel hovering over the more near our house NH 9365 1918. Weather too bad to work on the nest boxes.

Weds 28th Dec
Foul weather - frozen driving sleet.

Fri 30th Dec
Almost finished the crestie boxes. Repaired No 4 and refilled 5 and 7 but had to bring 6 home for repair.

Sat 31st Dec
Bea and I took the repaired box 6 back to its tree and that completed the job. Later, at dusk, I went looking for red deer near Carrbridge. No luck, but while I was there I walked up onto the hill to check a particular osprey nest to see how it had fared in the gales. The tree was OK but as far as I could tell in the gloom the nest had more or less gone. No sweat - the ospreys will fix it up in the spring.  I then scuttled back to the car before it got totally dark.

And that completes the year.


November 2011

Tues 1st Nov
Visited Stirling SWT Members Centre with Jean Barr and Patric Baird and their spouses. Super evening - a talk on alpine plants and an impromptu session on trail cameras.

Weds 2nd Nov
SNH/Historic Scotland reception at Holyrood. Great networking session.

Thurs 3rd Nov
Lynx symposium at Edinburgh University, organised by James, an old friend who was in our Explore group in Borneo in 2006. Very useful event.  Almost all of the main land use interests were represented and the event may well have moved the lynx higher up everyone's agenda.

Fri 4th Nov
All day induction session for our 2 new SWT Trustees Robin Harper and John Harwood. It went very well with both new men contributing to the day.

Mon 7th Nov
1530 a male capercaillie flew over me and my collie Bobby near the tee junction in the woods NH 9247 1751.

Tues 8th Nov
0900 fox dung on the glove path near the Fairy Hill crossroads NH 9373 1843. Train to Edinburgh where I attended the Fred Edwards Trust annual lecture. I set up the trail camera at Kilronan, Dalkeith.

Weds 9th Nov
More than 40 videos of the local foxes on the trail cam. Attended an awareness raising event at Holyrood parliament for the fairly new organisation AEECoW.

Thurs 10th Nov
Put the trail cam out in the woods on the Glove Path. On the way home saw a crested tit on the nuts behind the village hall.

Fri 11th Nov
I started the day by checking the cam with Bobby - just a few videos of dogs, but on the way home we saw 2 GS Woodpeckers near the village hall NH 9371 1880. It was a nervous morning because today was decision day by the CNPA Planning Committee over the proposed housing development next door in our woods. The development was finally turned down, which is great relief.

Sat 12th Nov
Just deer and rabbits on the trail cam, which I moved to a new site near the Sustrans Cycleway NH9293 1904 where I hung a dead pheasant on a tree in front of the camera as advised by David Hetherington, the wildcat expert. On the way between sites I found fox dung on the loop path NH9317 1863. At home I rehearsed the talk for next week's RSPB meeting in Edinburgh.

Mon 14th Nov
Collected the trail cam - just a few videos of a roe deer.

Tues 15th Nov
Up very early and on the first train to Edinburgh for SWT Conservation Committee meeting. An interesting and detailed affair. In the evening I gave a talk at Napier University to nearly a hundred RSPB members on the birds and mammals of the Cairngorms National Park. Spent the night at Kilronan - put out the trail cam for the foxes again.

Weds 16th Nov
There were 40 videos of the foxes on the camera. Got the early train home and in the evening Bea and I went to the SWT North of Scotland Members Centre evening in Inverness. There was a fascinating talk on "Scotland's Other Fish" - the trout, in its various forms.

Thurs 17th Nov
Put the trail cam back out near the pheasant while taking Bobby for a walk, then did heaps of SWT and RSWT paperwork.

Fri 18th Nov
Telecon with RSWT in preparation for the Governance Review presentation at next week's 4 day AGM and Business Meetings.

Sat 19th Nov
Fed all the village birds. The feeders at the Community Garden had not been used much but all the others had. There was a crested tit at the grebe car park feeders. At home I repaired a bat box that had fallen out of a tree at the Community Garden.

Sun 20th Nov
In the evening I sat outside the badger hide to try to get more picture of me with the badgers. 2 badgers came out but I only got a few rather poor shots before the camera batteries died again.

Mon 21st Nov
Wrote my Chairman's Report for SWT Council. Checked the trail cam - nothing of interest so I moved the pheasant and camera to a new position near the Sustrans path NH 9294 1909, then packed for 4 days away.

Tues 22nd Nov
Trains to Grantham in readiness for the RSWT AGM and Business Meetings.

Weds 23rd Nov
RSWT AGM in the morning and Business Meeting in the afternoon, followed by a formal dinner with presentations and speeches.   I opted for an early night - I needed to be on top form in the morning.

Thurs 24th Nov
It was my task to present the proposals stemming from the work of the RSWT Governance Review Board meetings over the summer.  All went well. There was an informal dinner in the evening which evolved into some very interesting discussions over a nightcap or two in the bar.

Fri 25th Nov
Joint Forum then trains home to find there had been a little snow.

Sat 26th Nov
0830 walked the dogs and found some fox dung on our transverse path on the moor at NH 9358 1912. I then filled all the bird feeders around the village and in passing visited a gentleman who had reported badgers in his garden. He seemed very pleased to have the badgers and wished to know more about them and I was happy to oblige.    On the trail cam there was one video of a cat but it was probably a feral cat, not a wildcat. It was black and white with a large bushy tail and I'll put the video on YouTube to see if there's any reaction.

Later I went back to the house belonging to the gentleman with the badgers to set up the trail cam near his gate where thebadgers are probably getting in, although I walked his fence and there are four holes under it in various places so the badgers do have options. We'll see.

Mon 28th Nov
I checked the trail cam in Kinchurdy Road - mostly squirrels and birds but also a few of a badger. Reset the camera in a slightly different place.

Weds 30th Nov
Bea and I went to the badger hide and dismantled the lights and brought them home for repair. Later I filled a friend's bird feeders, then removed the trail cam from Kinchurdy Roadv - it had a few badger videos on the card.


October 2011

Sat 1st Oct
Fed the village birds and checked the wildcat cam. Still not working properly but the heavy rain had caused a film of water over the sensor which later proved to be the problem. Wrote my protest letter to the Cairngorms National Park condemning the latest idiotic notions from the housing developers on how they intend to mitigate for capercaillie against the worst effects of building houses in a forest occupied by those threatened birds. The proposed measures stand absolutely no chance of succeeding and it beggars belief that building houses in such important habitats could even be considered in a National Park.

Sun 2nd Oct
Dried the camera, changed the sensitivity and put it out again. Heavy rain ensued so I had no high hopes of success.

Mon 3rd Oct
Wildcat cam, to my surprise, had 97 videos on it, mostly mice.    Later did another telecon for RSWT.

Tues 4th Oct
Wildcat cam had 132 videos of mice and a set of flat batteries!

Weds 5th Oct
Train to Newark for 2 days of RSWT meetings

Thurs 6th Oct
England Forum - the penultimate meeting of this body if the proposed new structure is adopted by the AGM. The new TWTE group will be smaller and totally focussed on England-only matters.

Fri 7th Oct
RSWT Council meeting. I left the meeting early to catch my train home but there was nothing remaining on the agenda that particularly required Scottish input.

Sun 9th Oct
Rabbit fur along the path on the moor - something had a late dinner or early breakfast. Found pine marten dung near the 6th tee at Abernethy Golf Club. Went to the hide to try to get some video of me with the badgers. No luck.

Mon 10th Oct
Did some videoing at the squirrel feeders.

Tues 11th Oct
Train to Edinburgh, bus to Leith, booked into hotel and walked down to SWT's new headquarters on Commercial Street. Big improvement on our old place - clean and tidy and open plan. Joined the joint seminar with our colleagues from across the water at the Ulster Wildlife Trust.

Weds 12th Oct
More meetings next day, mostly to do with RSWT's governance. Evening train home.

Thurs 13th Oct
Started another telecon but it fell apart quite quickly so we rescheduled. Out in the woods with the dogs in the afternoon and a buzzard cruised over us near the main crossroads.   I then began a heap of preparation for a meeting in London next week.

Fri 14th Oct
2 magpies on the moor this morning - quite unusual. Heaps more paperwork. Later to the badger hide and an attempt to get more video but again the badgers did not cooperate.

Sat 15th Oct
Took a family to the hide - 2 badgers for more than an hour.

Sun 16th Oct
Filled the feeders around the village. Brought a broken feeder home for repair and took it back out.

Mon 17th Oct
Final RSWT telecon in the morning. Later, out with the dogs and we saw a crestie near the junction of the sock path and glove path (don't ask). Sleeper train to London.

Tues 18th Oct
1100 to 1500 final RSWT Governance Review Group meeting. It was pretty successful and I think we have come up with something the AGM will accept. I was asked to do the presentation on the big day. 1700 dinner with brother John and grandson Simon, then the sleeper train home.

Weds 19th Oct
Rigged up the trail cam at a new location and baited the place with catnip and a tin of mackerel. In the evening took 3 people to the hide and at one point we had 5 badgers in view.

Thurs 20th Oct
Fox dung on the 8th Fairway at Abernethy Golf Club. 1400 found capercaillie droppings on a path near Kinchurdy pond NH 9314 1806, then more fox dung at a track junction NH 9216 1781. In the evening we attended the North of Scotland SWT Members Centre meeting at North Kessock to hear a brilliant talk by David Hetherington on the Highland Tiger Project to help the Scottish Wildcat.

Sat 22nd Oct
Moved the trail cam to a new location near the "elbow" at NH 9235 1840. In the evening I sat outside the badger hide to try to get pictures of me with the badgers. It worked fairly well but the flash was too strong and washed the shots out somewhat. It was very cold and windy and I just about froze but it was worth it to sit so close to wild badgers.

Sun 23rd Oct
Took a couple with their 2 very young daughters to the hide. We had 3 badgers very close to the hide.

Mon 24th Oct
Spent most of the day updating a PowerPoint talk. Checked the trail cam - nothing of interest. In the evening went back to the hide to try to get better pics of me with badgers. A very frustrating session - at first the badgers avoided me but then when they came close the camera died. I had put new batteries in at the start of the evening but the long wait with the power on was all too much.

Tues 25th Oct
Finished updating the PowerPoint talk then filled all the village bird feeders. Checked the trail cam again - nothing much on the card - then on the way home found fox and pine marten dung within 50 metres of each other on the same track at NH 9275 1827. In the evening went to the start of a consultation meeting over the new National Park Plan. I did not stay long - I have already submitted my response in writing and have little faith that these consultations achieve much.     Late at night I had a go at improving one of the pictures I took of me with badgers on 22nd. The result was not too bad so I tweeted it and sent copies to wildlife colleagues.  Here it is:


Weds 26th Oct
In the evening I visited Loch of the Lowes for a funders information event. Excellent evening.

Tues 27th Oct
Checked the trail cam - nothing of interest so we moved it to another location on a path where we had found fox and pine marten dung. Later I repaired the internal light at the badger hide.

Fri 28th Oct
Checked the trail cam again - still nothing apart from a local dog. Fixed up a new squirrel feeders on the so-called Squirrel Trail near the angle junction. Was supposed to go badger watching but the client cancelled.

Sat 29th Oct
Intended to check the trail cam but forgot to take the key! On the way home found pine marten droppings just north of the main crossroads in the woods NH 9305 1818.

Sun 30th Oct
Checked the trail cam - nothing of interest. Later I went to the hide to try to get better photos. No luck, the badgers avoided me this time.

Mon 31st Oct
Trail cam only had dogs on the card - I brought it home.


September 2011

Thus 1st Sept
SWT Council meeting in Edinburgh.   Excellent meeting with lots of useful debate on current issues.    Later, off to the opera called "Greek" with family.

Fri 2nd Sept
Early train home then out to check the trail camera in the woods - just a guy on a bike distributing orienteering markers on the card.  Weird that he should be so far off the main tracks.

Sat 3rd Sept
Filled all the village birds/squirrel feeders then re-sited the trail cam in a different part of the woods.

Mon 5th Sept
Carried out some phone calls related to the RSWT Governance Review then out into the woods.   Near the main crossroads I watched 2 crested tits in a puddle with some coal tits.

Tues 6th Sept
Sleeper to London

Weds 7th Sept
RSWT Governance Review Board meeting at Farringdon.   Good progress and some encouraging early feedback from the movement.   Met brother John and wife Carole later for a meal and a catch-up.  Most enjoyable day - followed by the sleeper home overnight.

Thurs 8th Sept
Brought the trail cam home.  It had some nice video of badgers and roe deer on the card.     Here is some roe deer footage:


Later I put it back out in a different place.

Fri 9th Sept
A day of many phone calls relating to beavers, badgers, National Park, recent meetings and future meetings.   Wrote a speech for next week.

Sat 10th Sept
Filled the village feeders and while doing so watched a great spotted woodpecker hammering away underneath the squirrel feeder at the grebe car.    Checked the trail cam - just some footage of squirrels and rabbits.   Sooner or later I'll get that elusive video of a pine marten.   Cleaned both our bird baths.

Mon 12th Sept
Buzzard heard on the moor - still a bit of a rarity around here.

Tues 13th Sept
Attended a presentation of the RSWT Biodiversity Benchmark award to Aggregate Industries at Powmyre in Angus.   The environment Minister Stewart Stevenson and I made the presentation before a small audience that included local councillors and the estate owner Lord Strathmore.

Weds 14th Sept
Bea and I went to the badger hide to do the end of season nestbox check.   All three goldeneye boxes were empty, suggesting that the pine marten got the eggs.   There was no sign of activity at the pine marten or kestrel boxes.   We already knew that the blue tits had raised a full brood.   Later I checked the trail camera - the card had several videos of mice and squirrels.  Here is some of the squirrel footage:


Thurs 15th Sept
Today we heard from Knapdale that a kit had been seen at Loch Linne. Great news.

Fri 16th Sept
Went to the badger hide and rigged up a black curtain across the middle to cut down on reflections, particularly on the window facing the upper sett, and to prevent deer etc seeing movement of people silhouetted against the far window. Picked up a fresh sack of peanuts from the post office (£43!) and filled all the village bird feeders. Retrieved the trail cam from Kinchurdy Wood - the card had videos of red squirrels and mice again. When I got home a neighbour told me he had twice recently seen a wildcat beside the road near the grebe car park viewing platform, at which I took the trail cam and re-sited it on an obvious track in the woods near that point, baited with puppy food. Later I took a couple to the badger hide. The new curtain worked really well, we saw 4 badgers and got very wet walking back across the field.

Sat 17th Sept
Bea and I drove to Oatridge for the annual Scottish Badgers conference. In recent years it had clashed with SWT's AGM and we could not go so it was nice to attend this time. There was a good turn-out and a very positive day was enjoyed by all.

Sun 18th Sept
Checked the trail cam - just local dogs and a squirrel this time. Drove the 150 miles to Knapdale ready for tomorrow's launch of the beaver education pack. Stayed in the Grey Gull Inn.

Mon 19th Sept
At Lochgilphead Joint Campus the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Michael Russell MSP launched the Beaver Education Pack which will be rolled out to every school in Scotland. This initiative is aimed at raising awareness of beavers and also to help reconnect young people with their environment by teaching them about the beaver's relationship with the land. The headmistress Anne Devine and I gave short speeches before the Minister gave the formal launch address. In the preceding weeks there had been a competitin between schools to write a beaver song, so after the speeches we were treated to a performance of the winning song by the school that wrote it. A wonderful day. I drove home in the afternoon.

Tues 20th Sept
Checked the trail cam - just mice and dogs. I reset it and added some cheesy dog treats plus some raspberry jam in case a pine marten was about.

Weds 21st Sept
Attended the CNPA/SLE Land Managers Forum meeting in Ballater. A more confusing and less relevant body it would be hard to imagine. Main topic was forestry but we also touched on Park plan 2, riparian woodland, Spey and Dee fisheries and wildfires. On the way there I passed a dead pine marten on the A939 near the Lecht at NJ 2423 1378 and on the way home I passed a hovering kestrel near Topperfettle at NJ 0529 2494. Emails in the evening reported that the Scottish Biodiversity Committee meeting in Edinburgh went exceptionally well with SWT leading the way. Jonny Hughes starred with his Climate Connections presentation.

Thurs 22nd Sept
1720 checked the wildcat cam - 30 videos of mice taken over the last two nights.

Fri 23rd Sept
Last minute preparation for tomorrow's SWT AGM then the train to Dundee. Overnight at the Landmark hotel.

Sat 24th Sept
Scottish Wildlife Trust AGM and Members Day. Great day - lots of lively debate stimulated by two Q and A sessions. The future for beavers and changes to government back-to-work schemes featured strongly among members' concerns.

Sun 25th Sept
Fed all the village birds and checked the wildcat cam which had lots of videos of mice plus a guy with an Alsatian collecting mushrooms. I bought some catnip treats to try to attract any cats in the area of the cam.

Mon 26th Sept
1400 carried out another telecon for RSWT then took two chaps from FCS to the badger hide. We saw 4 badgers.

Tues 27th Sept
Busy day of telecons, meetings and preparation for meetings.

Thurs 29th Sept
Checked the wildcat cam - nothing recorded, the cam was faulty.

Fri 30th Sept
One telecon today - it took an hour. Wildcat cam still playing up which turned out to be a faulty SD card.


August 2011

Mon 1st Aug
Filled all the village birds feeders. Squirrel have now found the new feeder opposite our house. Lately we are seeing many more birds in our garden than previously. When I got home from walking the dogs there was a squirrel at the new feeder - let's call it the lorry-park feeder. In the evening I took two chaps to the badger hide - both keen photographers. They got lots of amazing close-ups.

Tues 2nd Aug
Meeting in Edinburgh with Ian Darling, Chairman of RSPB UK. We discussed matters of mutual interest and generally cemented the good relationship that exists between RSPB and the Scottish Wildlife Trust. There was also a meeting of the Scottish Salmon and Beaver Working Group today which Simon Milne attended on behalf of the Scottish Beaver Trial partners.

Weds 3rd Aug
Took a delightful family of 5 to the hide. Saw 2 badgers and a fox from the hide, then, as we were leaving, we heard a tawny owl.

Fri 5th Aug
Roe deer on 3rd fairway at AGC.

Sat 6th Aug
Brown hare at Abernethy Golf Club. Buzzard calling over the moor in front of our house - the first we've seen in many a month.

Sun 7th Aug
Two crested tits at the new lorry-park feeder. These are the first cresties we have seen for quite some time.

Tues 9th Aug
SWT Conservation Committee meeting at Falls of Clyde, New Lanark. I went down by train the previous day and stayed in the local hotel. Excellent meeting covering, among other things, peat and horticulture, peatlands in general and the five year plan.

Thurs 11th Aug
3 people at the badger hide. We saw 2 badgers but not at really close quarters which was a bit disappointing, although the guests seemed pleased enough.

Fri 12th Aug
Meeting of Scottish Badgers Advisory Group in Perth. Excellent meeting. Learned about a brilliant project in which young school pupils took part in a project videoing badgers with remote cameras and then edited together a film with sound and poetry. Amazing. Promised myself one of those cameras - a Bushnell Trophy Cam XLT 8MP.

Sat 13th Aug
Ordered a Bushnell camera.

Sun 14th Aug
0620 Fresh fox dung on the moor this morning and a buzzard overhead being hassled by a rook.
0930 Filled the village bird and squirrel feeders. Researched a supply of hazelnuts in shells for the squirrels - we've run out.

Mon 15th Aug
Completed two reports for the next SWT Council meeting.

Tues 16th Aug
Day at the Edinburgh Fringe - crammed in four shows, Flanders and Swan, MacBeth, Hamlet and Opera songs.

Weds 17th Aug
The new Bushnell Cam arrived today - piece of cake to set it up so I took it to the hide and strapped it to a tree before going to meet the evening's guests, 4 young people. A great night with 5 badgers on view at one point and much of the action videoed by the new camera. Here's a short clip:

Thurs 18th Aug
UK Gamekeepers are once more calling for licenses to cull buzzards, ravens, badgers and pine martens. We must jump on this nonsense from a great height.
1945 Another badger watch with a young couple. Four badgers this time and more video footage from a different angle.

Fri 19th Aug
Set up the new camera by the new squirrel feeder at the lorry park. Loads of pictures of a squirrel lifting the lid to get at the nuts.

Sat 20th Aug
Filled the feeders in the garden and around the village., including the Community Garden where the feed bin has been wrecked and the food spoiled - I must remove it. Later, on the way to Pitlochry, we passed a dead pine marten on the A9 near the Killierankie turn off.

Mon 22nd Aug
Set out the Trail Cam on an animal track in Craigie Woods.
1945 took 3 people to the badger hide - 3 badgers and 4 roe deer seen.

Tues 23rd Aug
1515 checked the trail cam - a male caper had wandered past it at 0754 this morning.

Weds 24th Aug
1310 Spoke for ten minutes with Danny Alexander MP. We spoke of the Cairngorms National Park Authority's failure to protect important wildlife habitats, urban greenspace, the importance of the Landfill Communities Fund and the badger cull, and I left him some notes from RSWT on CAP reform, Marine MPAs and HS2.
1500 checked the trail cam - no pictures but on the way back I found some pine marten dung on a path at NH9317 1900.
1945 in the badger hide with a couple and their three young children. 2 roe deer, some bats and 5 badgers.

Thurs 25th Aug
The trail cam had 5 clips of roe deer.
1930 took a family to the badger hide. Another great night with 5 badgers and 2 roe deer.

Fri 26th Aug
This last week has felt like a holiday but today it ended - I spent hours preparing for a series of meetings next week. Found time to check the trail cam but there was nothing very much on the card. I moved it to a different location.

Sat 27th Aug
1500 Filled the feeders around the village then checked the trail cam. Just a few roe deer clips. Reset the cam to take photos instead of videos and increased its sensitivity.
2000 took two young men to the hide - 3 roe deer, some bats and 5 badgers. This is one of the bagders:

Mon 29th Aug
Packed for 4 days away.   Took the train to Edinburgh where I did a talking heads piece in Johnston Terrace (our smallest reserve) for the Scottish Wildlife Trust website. Here's a sneak preview:

Tues 30th Aug
Up at 0430 and bussed into Edinburgh to meet the CEO who drove us to Knapdale in Argyll where we acted as hosts for the day to the Environment Minister, Stewart Stevenson.  His visit was to view at first hand progress with the Scottish Beaver Trial.  It was a brilliant day during which the Minister had the chance to speak with the project staff, walk across a beaver dam and view a beaver lodge from a boat, which he rowed himself.  The day could hardly have gone better.   The CEO and I then travelled to a hotel in Glasgow prior to the next day's activities.

Weds 31st Aug
Spent the day with SWT staff being trained by Bill McFarlan of The Broadcasting Business in techniques for dealing with the media, principally radio and tv.   A very stressful but useful course entitled "Drop the Pink Elephant".  Don't ask - buy the book of the same name and all will be clear.


July 2011

Sat 2nd July
I hosted a reception at the Playfair Library in the Surgeons Hall, Edinburgh for members and potential members of the Scottish Wildlife Trust Foundation. It was a lovely sunny afternoon so proceedings began out of doors on the lawn before going inside for speeches and refreshments.

Mon 4th July
There was a meeting of the RSWT Governance Review Panel in London today but I could not go due to the difficulty of getting back next day for the Holyrood Palace event. However, I spent time last week composing a paper which I hope made a positive contribution to the meeting. I also spent time today preparing for meetings next week.

Tues 5th July
Bea and I travelled by train to Edinburgh for the Queen's Garden Party at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh. A very nice occasion. The cucumber sandwiches were well up to standard and the rain held off.

Weds 6th July
A frustrating day.   I am increasingly being made aware of systematic threats to Scotland's wildlife which I am powerless to do anything about without risking damaging good relations with some of our partners in some of our projects.  The day may soon come when I explode and to hell with all of it.

Thurs 7th July
Still fizzing over this stuff.  Made a few phone calls to like-minded people and drew some comfort from the fact that they too share my feelings.  We fear that our best habitats and most precious wildlife will fall victim to vested interests and political skullduggery.

Fri 8th July
Loads of email over the past few days about beavers, squirrels, mussels, buzzards and other threatened species.    Protection for these creatures is weak everywhere, including in the Cairngorms National Park where the spectre of houses in the capercaillie woods behind my house remains. It shocks me how many local people hereabouts care so little about the precious local wildlife that they are either in favour of the development or they couldn't care less one way or the other.

Sat 9th July
More phone calls to allies today.   Shockingly I heard that only one pair of hen harriers has bred in the Cairngorms National Park this year. This is no doubt due to estates illegally killing the rest to protect grouse and now the re-badged SLE (Self Licking Envelope or, as they prefer, Scottish Land and Estates) want licenses for their members to cull buzzards to protect pheasants that are only there in the first place so that rich people can shoot them.    As mentioned on my Twitter account, we hardly ever see buzzards round here anyway these days.

Tue 12th July
Brian Sanders, badger man from the Midlands, came to see us. While he was here an angler phoned from the banks of the River Almond at a spot just upstream of where it joins the Tay to say he was watching two beavers swimming in the river. I let SNH know.

Weds 13th July
Meeting at Cramond with the SWT Vice Chairs Jean Barr, James Ivory and David Grundy. Good meeting with some useful discussions on a range of subjects including trustee succession and the next five year plan.

Thurs 13th July
Fox dung beside the 7th Green at Abernethy GC.

Fri 14th July
Bought a sack of peanuts and a bag of bird seed - cost £60 !! Strimmed the grass at the badger hide and left food for the birds and badgers. Plenty of signs of badger activity at the upper sett. On the way home filled the various bird feeders around the village.

Sun 17th July
Found fox dung on the path while walking the dogs on the moor.

Mon 18th July
Wrote my quarterly Chairman's Bulletin for the SWT Members Centres, Staff and Trustees. Worth mentioning here that in the main this diary only covers highlights of what I get up to. In between I spend large chunks of my days working on reports and plans and making phone calls - almost all to do with the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Tues 19th July
Heard today that the UK Government is still minded to go ahead with a badger cull in England. David Attenborough, Simon King and Lord Krebbs immediately spoke out about the foolishness of such action. I added my small voice to this on Twitter and Facebook. The Wildlife Trust movement is of course strongly opposed to a cull.

Weds 20th July
Train to Newark in readiness for a meeting next day. Dinner with some of the delegates and the chance to talk informally through some issues that concern us.

Thurs 21st July
RSWT Council meeting in the offices at Newark. Lengthy affair covering staffing, funding, marine, the annual report, forward thinking, development strategy, contributions from trusts, the ongoing governance review, risk and branding. Phew!

Fri 22nd July
Spent all day writing up reports and making phone calls.

Sat 23rd July
Cleaned our bird baths and topped up feeders around the village.

Sun 24th July
Red squirrel in our garden - the first time for more than a year. Later, in the evening, the dogs came dashing in to tell us quite a story. Turns out there was a hedgehog in the back garden. Our dogs are quite young and this is possibly their first encounter with such a prickly beast. The yapping may have been the result of stinging noses. The hedgehog lay very still and Heather thought it might be dead but..............

Mon 25th July morning the hedgehog was missing, presumed alive. Later I got a phone call from someone who had found a dead badger near Bonar Bridge and traced me via the Highland Badgers website which he found using his smart-phone. Don't you just love modern technology. In the evening Heather and I collected a male feral cat from the vet in Grantown. It had been trapped the previous evening by the Cat Protection League and taken to the vets to be neutered. This is part of a project to help reduce the risk of hybridisation of our native Scottish wildcat through interbreeding with feral domestic cats. We released the cat exactly where it had been caught. At first it was reluctant to come out of its carry-box but when it did it was at high speed as is shot under a fence and dashed across the next field to safety. Good luck puss.

Tues 26th July
Worked for much of the day on preparations for a telecon on Thursday to do with the governance review being carried out by RSWT. In the evening a man came to our house to report a dead badger on the A95 at Kinveachy, not far from our village.

Thurs 28th July
RSWT Governance Review telecon.   Not sure how effective these things are but there were only a few of us involved this time so it was manageable.

Fri 29th July
A day of phone calls relating to recent meetings and in preparation for meetings to come in the next week or so.

Sat 30th July
Strimmed the grass at the hide and swept it out.


June 2011

Weds 1st June
Checked some nests. Our blue tits had fledged, the high box at the badger hide was empty (it used to have eggs in it), the middle box had 13 goldeneye eggs in it and the low box had at least 10 eggs in it. There was a large heap of lively blue tit chicks in the tit box beside the hide. Later I took two ladies to the hide where we watched three badgers for nearly an hour.

Fri 3rd June
Brief meeting in Perth with the Chairman of SNH.

Mon 6th June
Bobby and Max showed great interest in a red squirrel that was having difficulty climbing a tree. It was either injured or on its way out, I guess.

Tues 7th June
Filled the feeders around the village.

Weds 9th June
An ex RSWT Council member and his wife visited us for the afternoon and evening. We visited the badger hide to find (using the endoscope) that there were only 2 eggs in the middle GE box but no eggs in the high and low boxes. No way of knowing without going home for a ladder if the eggs had been stolen or if the chicks had fledged. The blue tits certainly had fledged.

Thurs 9th June
Reintroductions Forum in Perth. Some consensus on several issues.

Fri 10th June
Visited Chanonry Point with members of SWT Council to consider a project nearby. Then we all drove to Achiltibuie community hall, had lunch and then held our quarterly Council Meeting. We then went to settle in at our various bothies, B and Bs and hotels before returning to the village hall for dinner, followed by a drinks reception for the local people. An exhausting day, but a valuable and inspiring one.

Sat 11th June
Council members met at the site of a proposed small hydro scheme before driving to Aird of Coigach where we walked up a ridge towards Stac Pollaidh.    From part way up the ridge we could gaze out over the 69,000 hectare area that was about to host the Coigach and Assynt Living Landscape (CALL) project. Thus prepared we continued driving north to Lochinver and Canisp Lodge where the CALL launch took place, led by Rob Gibson MSP, convenor of the Scottish Parliament Rural Affairs Committee. Incredibly, the weather had been marvellous for the two days of our visit with the added bonus of very few midges, then, as we started our journeys home, the rain began!

Mon 13th June
Rigged up a cage to keep the jackdaws off the bird seed feeder in our garden.

Tues 14th June
Filled all the village feeders. Saw a red squirrel on the feeders at the grebe car park. Heather did a course on how to catch feral cats so that they can be neutered - all in the interest of protecting our wildcats from too much hybridisation. I did lots of paperwork in preparation for meetings in the next week.

Weds 15th June
Train to Poole in Dorset.

Thurs 16th June
RSWT Council Meeting in Poole, then the long journey home via London and the sleeper.

Fri 17th June
A few days of domestic bliss.

Tues 21st June
Travel to Grange over Sands (2 trains and a bus) in Cumbria and an informal dinner with the delegates of the RSWT Countries Committee.

Weds 22nd June
RSWT Countries Committee Meeting. We talked about marine, devolution, governance, Europe and marketing, then made it home (a bus and 2 trains) before bed time.

Thurs 23rd June
Helped Heather check a trap near Dulnain Bridge. There had clearly been a cat in there (the poo was a clue) but the door had not locked shut properly and the crafty puss had sneaked out.

Fri 24th June
Meeting in Edinburgh with Sir Kenneth Calman of NTS and reps from other bodies to explore possible shared priorities.

Sat 25th June
Typed up this diary and then did battle with my ISP company who had helpfully changed my website ftp username without telling me.   To their credit they were suitably embarrassed.

Tues 28th June
Did some prep for meetings this week, then filled the village bird feeders - all were empty!

Thurs 30th June
Business and Development meeting at Cramond. Mostly about a small hydro scheme but some bits about general development too. Robin Harper dropped in with his nomination forms. We two then took the bus back to Edinburgh during which we found much common ground to discuss.   This included grave concerns over the ways in which large areas of Scotland's landscape is being layed waste by inappropriate development.


May 2011

Tues 3rd May
Drove to Lairg and with Steve Gardner gave a presentation to Highland Leader about our upcoming Living Landscapes project in the Coigach/Assynt area.

Weds 4th May
While out with the dogs on the way to Loch Vaa we found pine marten dung on the Mercedes path at NH9221 1792.

Fri 6th May
Wide ranging discussion with senior staff in Edinburgh.

Sat 7th May
Visited the badger hide. Goldeneye eggs in all three GE boxes (the low box actually had a duck sitting) and a blue tit on eggs in the tit box.

Mon 9th May
Yellowhammer in its usual territory on the first fairway at Abernethy Golf Club.
3pm nest check in the woods. Of the 27 boxes only 3 were active - the two we already knew about (4 and 27 both have blue tits with eggs) plus box 16 with eggs - species as yet unknown.

Weds 1tth May
One the way back from Loch Vaa we checked box 16 again. The wood above the hole has been split off so the eggs could easily be stolen by a predator. No sign of the resident birds. Frank Johnstone is helping us watch the nest in case it is a crestie.

Thurs 12th May
Replaced a mouldy feeder at the grebe car park and topped up the food.

Fri 13th May
0830 beaver talk on the beach at Chanonry Point to 16 students from Middlesex University studying environmental management. This is the third time I have done this and as previously it was a very positive experience for us all. Great enthusiasm from these young people who are from various countries, not just UK.

Sat 14th May
Out with the dogs early and came across a badger latrine beside the glove path at NH9343 1846. At 1800 topped up the food at the village hall feeders.

Tues 17th May
SWT Conservation Committee meeting at Cramond.

Weds 18th May
Sleeper train to London

Thurs 19th May
RSWT Governance Review Board meeting at Farringdon. Sleeper train home.

Fri 20th May
1430 while walking the dogs I watched a crossbill having a bath in a puddle; near Kinchurdy pond at map ref NH932 1800.

Sat 21st May
Took Sandra and Ali to watch badgers. A very wet night but we saw 2 badgers at the upper sett for nearly an hour. Sandra has amazing camera gear and took some stunning pictures without the need for flash despite the gloomy, dusky conditions.

Thurs 26th May
Filled all the village bird feeders. Later on Max caught a common shrew on the moor opposite our house. I think he thinks he's a cat. SWT CEO stayed with us overnight ready for tomorrow's meeting.

Fri 27th May
Simon and I met Nick Halfhide at SNH offices at Aviemore to discuss current issues.

Sun 29th May
Went to watch for cresties behind the village hall but the corvids had emptied the feeders. I filled them up again but no sooner had I done so than the rain began in ernest.

Mon 30th May
One to one with CEO in Edinburgh, then a meeting over lunch with an external adviser.


April 2011

Fri 1st April
Frank Johnston and I did a crestie nest check. Box 4 was partly excavated but the rest were untouched. Two badger latrines found today; one on the glove path NH9368 1828 and one on the secret path at NH 9317 1898.

Sat 2nd April
Spent the day on SWT paperwork.

Sun 3rd April
Filled the village bird feeders and did some more admin.

Weds 6th April
Heard that a friend had a badger in her garden in Kinchurdy Road, Boat of Gartne, about 3 weeks ago.

Thurs 7th April
Filled the village feeders again - the Ray Mears TV crew were expected to start filming today or tomorrow.

Fri 8th April
Sat by box 4 to see what was using it. A blue tit obligingly came along within 5 minutes and continued removing wood shavings from the box. Pity - I was hoping for a crestie.

Sat 9th April
0900 I visited the badger hide, filled the peanut bin and the bird feeders and left some peanuts under a board for the badgers. I looked into some of the nest boxes and found:
tit box - half built nest, low goldeneye box - 8 GE eggs, mid goldeneye box - empty, high goldeneye box - tawny owl on eggs.
1330 Bobby (dog) and I did a crestie nest check. Box 4 and 27 well excavated but nothing else. Used my new gps - disastrous. It managed to lose 29 waypoints due to a corrupt file. It has since been returned to the supplier to be replaced.
Blue tits are now nest building in the right-hand hole of the shed sparrow gallery.

11th and 12th April
RSWT annual Chairmens conference in York.

12th April continued
A black headed gull was seen near our house - the first this year.

Weds 13th April
1500 Bobby found a badger latrine beside the secret path near the fence t-junction at NH 9295 1894.
2100 Driving home from a golf club meeting a pine marten crossed the road in front of me near Cullchie on the B970 at NH 9722 2013

Mon 18th April
Drove to Clarkston for the inaugural AGM of the new SWT Members Centre - gave a talk about beavers. An uplifting occasion with more than 70 people in attendance.

Tues 19th April
Drove home - passed two dead badgers on the way. Called in at Loch of the Lowes and got involved in a media session to do with a wildlife crime initiative in Perthshire. There was some TV coverage that evening so well worth the effort.

Thurs 21st April
Drove to Aberdeen University and gave a beaver talk to Aberdeen SWT Members Centre. 35 in the audience. On the same evening in Inverness the Inner Moray Firth SWT MC disbanded and was reborn as the North of Scotland MC. Heather represented me (and gave a speech) and Simon Milne oversaw the proceedings.

Fri 22nd April
While walking the dogs to Loch Vaa we checked the two boxes known to have nests. Box 4 still had just the nest but box 27 had a blue tit on eggs.

Weds 27th April
Went by train to join the SWT Staff at their annual conference. Very pleasant evening with about 60 staff present.

Thurs 28th April
Field trip at Cumbernauld including a visit to a badger sett before getting the train home. Too much sun, for which I paid the price next day.

Fri 29th April
Blue tits still nest building in our shed sparrow gallery. Dead hedgehog on the B970 near the first fairway at Abernethy Golf Club NJ 003 213.

Sat 30th April
Fed the village birds.
1900 Merlin patrolling the moor opposite our house.


March 2011

Tues 1st March
0830 Woodpecker drumming on a branch of a Scots Pine near the Craigie Woods crossroads.
0845 Feathers of a collared dove near the discrete path, almost certainly the work of the local sparrowhawk.
1730 Dealt with a dead badger on the B970; male weighing 9kg. On the way home called in at the badger hide and put out food for the birds and badgers; there were lots of signs of badger activity at the sett. Later I sent some hairs from the dead badger to RZSS who are doing a badger forensic project on badgers.

Weds 2nd March
1645 Reception hosted by CAMERAS at Our Dynamic Earth followed by a reception given by LINK at the Holyrood Parliament. Lots of very useful networking resulting in meetings in the weeks ahead with officials from a variety of bodies. The MSPs present had to nip out part way through the Holyrood event to vote in the Wildlife and Natural Environment Bill. Unfortunately a last minute attempt to get snaring banned failed by 72 votes to 50 so we'll just have to keep plugging away.

Fri 4th Mar
Another dead badger, this time on the Carrbridge Road near Kinveachy. Very sad; a lactating female weighing 9kg. Again, I sent some hair to RZSS.

Sat 5th March
Bea and I checked both mink rafts. Neither had footprints in so we smoothed the clay and re-floated the rafts. There was an otter spraint on a tussock on the bank beside one of the rafts.

Sun 6th Mar
0745 Male capercaillie at the angle of paths in Craigie Woods.
0830 Woodpecker drumming behind the houses in Kinchurdy Road, near Craigie Rock.
1130 Crested tit on the nuts behind the community hall.
1600 I filled the feeders at the grebe car park and behind the community hall.
1838 Phone call from some friends who had found two dodgy looking traps.   The police are now involved.

Mon 7th Mar
Train heading south

Tues 8th Mar
1100 to 1600 RSWT England Forum in Newark

Weds 9th March
0900 to 1230 RSWT Council Meeting in Newark, then the train home.

Thurs 10th March
0830 badger latrine beside the discrete path in Craigie Wood. A but further on there was some strange looking dung and from the photo I took Bea thinks it was probably a fox.

Fri 11th March
0830 It had snowed overnight and there was a capercaillie footprint in the snow on the discrete path.  That area has been quite active lately with signs of sparrow hawk, capercaillie, fox, pine marten and badger in the past two months

12th and 13th March
Heavy snow. The woods look wonderful and the dogs love it but walking is hard work.

Tues 15th March
Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels annual get-together at Battleby. Very good event, with presentations in the morning and a field trip after lunch. Later I learned that blue tits had been investigating the shed sparrow gallery at our house.

Weds 16th March
Filled the feeders around the village.

Thurs 17th March
I attended the Inner Moray Firth Members Centre meeting to hear a talk by a lassie from RSPB about the coastal realignment in Nigg Bay. Fascinating.

Fri 18th March
Lunchtime meeting with a governrment official in Edinburgh.

Sat 19th March
SWT Members Centres Day at Cramond. About 45 people attended including 5 members of Council, at least 7 staff - 13 Members Centres sent representatives. Subject matter included the website, the five year plan, reintroductions and iSpot. An excellent day.

Mon 21st March
1630 A lapwing swooped past in the field opposite our house - the first I've seen this year. Later I went to the badger hide. A badger came out within 5 minutes of me getting there.

Thurs 24th March
0730 Woodpecker drumming inside the woodland edge near the end of Kinchurdy Road. NH 9360 1811.
1100 One to two with David Green and Hamish Trench at the Cairngorms National Park office in Grantown. We spoke about volunteering, education and outdoor classrooms, wildlife crime and scope for partnership working. 

Fri 25th March
1130 I filled the bird feeders around the village and installed a new feeder at the village hall, then did heaps of paperwork at home.
1700 Keith Duncan reported seeing a badger in the village last night halfway between the hotel and the next bend - it had come out of the front garden of one of the houses that back onto the railway.

Sat 26th March
On the way to play golf at Inverurie I saw two dead badgers on the A96, one at NJ 6460 3101 near the Williamston turn off and the other at NJ 6589 2943 level with Newton House to the north.

Mon 28th March
0930 Met Eddie Anderson, ITV director of the Ray Mears show, behind the village hall. We talked for half an hour about crested tits during which time a crestie actually turned up at the feeders.
1400 - 1600 Meeting of the village housing Forum. Chatham House so no further comment.

Tues 29th March
Wildlife Estates seminar at Battleby. All the great and the good were there and it was a reasonable start to affairs.

Weds 30th March
Worked on Beaver Steering Group matters.

Thurs 31st March
1100 - 1430 The first of five RSWT Governance Review Board meetings in London.   Excellent.


February 2011

Weds 2nd Feb
Attended the inaugural meeting of the Cairngorms National Park Land Management Forum. About 50 people attended, mostly estate managers but a few representing conservation bodies and land management organisations. A good start.

Fri 4th Feb
Egg is still there.

Sat 5th Feb
Prepared for meetings next week

Tues 8th Feb
SWT Conservation Committee meeting in St Colme Street, Edinburgh. Overnight in B and B.

Weds 9th Feb
Attended a snaring course at Haddington, run by GWCT.

Fri 11th Feb
Fresh Pine Marten dung on the discrete path at NH 9359 1846

Sat 12th Feb
Red squirrel behind the village hall

Sun 13th Feb
The egg is still there beside the secret path – it’s been more than three weeks since we put it there and I am amazed that no badger or pine marten has found it.

Mon 14th Feb
0900 Fresh pine marten dung on discrete path , same place as on 11th Feb NH 9359 1846
1100 Wrote to the Environment Minister about snaring
1400 Great tit investigating the starling nest box. No chance!
Phone cal from a lady further down Strathspey who had not seen a badger in her area for at least three years but has seen 3 dead ones on the roads recently. I passed the details to Scottish Badgers.

Tue 15th Feb
Discovered that some of the village feeders had mouldy food in or were broken.

Weds 16th Feb
Started mending feeders.
1000 Meeting at Cairngorms national Park offices to talk about landscape scale conservation, the planning system and wildlife friendly estates policy. Promising.
Spent the afternoon on finishing repairs to feeders and putting out fresh food.

17th to 21st Feb
Heaps of report writing in readiness for a hectic week of meetings ahead.

Weds 23rd Feb
1100 Scottish Beaver Trial Steering Group meeting in Edinburgh. Excellent meeting and some useful discussions with helpful outcomes to match.
1900 - 2100 Wetlands International reception in Edinburgh Castle.

Thurs 24th Feb
1030 to 1630 SWT Council Meeting. A bit of a marathon with some lively discussions.

Fri 25th Feb
1000 Scottish Badgers Advisory Group meeting in Perth. Very well attended and fruitful.

Sat 26th Feb
Spent most of the weekend in a chair watching tv after an exhausting week.

Mon 28th Feb
Stirred myself enough to add some more feeders around the village. We are not seeing too many birds or squirrels; I guess the winter has done some damage.


January 2011

Mon 3rd Jan
Dried out and cleaned out the green goldeneye box in the shed. Bea, Bobby and I then took it and installed it in its new position in view of the hide. We fed the birds and badgers while we were there.

Tues 4th Jan
The caper roost tree beside the dog walkers' loop has been used again, plus another tree fifty yards away.

Fri 7th Jan
A boulder near another dog walkers' path was covered in caper droppings.

Sat 8th Jan
Frank Johnstone and I braved the conditions after overnight snow and checked all of the 27 crested tit boxes in Craigie Wood and topped up those that needed it with fresh woodshavings. Boxes 2, 4, 16, 23 and 26 had the remains of blue tit nests in from last year so those got cleaned out before being refilled. Box 6 needed a new lid and box 21 needed a new tree, it’s usual tree having fallen foul of the recent heavy snow. Luckily when the tree fell it fell sideways and the nest box survived. Frank came back during the following week and fixed both problems.

Sun 9th Jan
We filled all the squirrel feeders with hazelnuts. Now that Tesco no longer stocks them after Christmas we decided to hang on to our small stockpile now until natural squirrel food becomes scarce in summer.

Tues 11th Jan
Dinner with Roseanna Cunningham and the delegates of the RSWT Countries Committee in the MSPs restaurant at Holyrood.

Weds 12th Jan
Chaired the six-monthly meeting of the RSWT Countries Committee in the New Club in Edinburgh.

Thurs 13th Jan
In the morning did some work connected with the snaring debate then in the afternoon dealt with some phone calls about beavers.

Sat 15th Jan
Filled up the squirrel feeders. There was a crested tit behind the village hall. The dog and I found a large pile of pine marten dung on the secret path at NH 9276 1870.

Mon 17th Jan
Lots of SWT admin

Weds 19th Jan
Filled the village bird and squirrel feeders.

Fri 21st Jan
Placed an egg near the pine marten dung site that we found on 15th. Went to the badger hide with a farmer from the Beauly area – he is planning to build a hide on his farm and was seeking ideas.

Sat 22nd Jan
Egg still there by the secret path. I cleaned out all of the nest boxes at our house, which included removing a wasp byke, a great tit nest and two blue tit nests.

Sun 23rd Jan
Egg still there.

Tues 25th Jan
Train to Edinburgh to attend a presentation given by Sir John Lawton to MSPs at Holyrood about his review “Making Space For Nature” which was commissioned by DEFRA. His attempt to place a Scottish slant on his ideas prompted some lively questions. In the evening we took Sir John out to dinner at a Thai restaurant.