Glenloy Wild Boar

Published: 12th December 2012

Pretty cold up here in Glenloy. Minus 9 last night and could be even colder tonight.  Looks like an update is long overdue, so this seems like a good time to try and recall what we have been up to between travelling up and down the country. The berries have been pretty much stripped from the garden now; so much for having holly with berries for Christmas. The bird feeding stations have become busy again. Tits are getting through a feeder of peanuts a day – up to a dozen coal tits at a time. Our pheasants are back clearing up the wheat under the feeding station – same old cock, and as randy as ever, chasing the poor hens through the rhododendrons. Still the odd jay flying about. The pine martens have taken to alternatively sitting on the doorstep at dusk (before 4.30pm) waiting for some food to be put out. Also trying to scrabble their way in under the house, which is less pleasant. Thick ice in patches up the glen and up our drive the snow melted and immediately froze. Going to be hard to shift at this rate. The hoar frost makes up for the cold, with everything sparkly and quiet at the moment. Nice to get out and admire the views, although little about apart from furtive goldcrests and the odd crossbill chipping away.

The hot news is that at long last we have been able to catch the local wild boar in our  camera trap. The wild boar originally escaped from a woodland pen at the top of  Loch  Arkaig, some 6 years ago, and since have flourished, despite the best efforts of the Forestry Commission and others to control them.  We have seen evidence of boars all the way from Glen Garry in the north to Loch Sunart in the south, and it is likely they have gone further, particularly as there is another ‘wild’ population in Glen Morriston. Despite this they are remarkably hard to spot, being understandably shy. They seem to have a particular fondness for Glen Loy. The most obvious sign is that the verges along the side of the glen road havebeen ploughed up as the pigs have been rooting for bulbs and edible tubers. After a spate of particularly enthusiastic activity only about a mile from Glenloy Lodge, we set up a camera trap and waited. The first stint was unsuccessful, but a neighbour excitedly told us that he had seen a pig cross the road as he drove home in the dark, in exactly the same place. So we repositioned the camera, and bingo! – we managed to obtain short clips on two consecutive nights. Despite staking out the spot we still haven’t seen them in the flesh, but this is the next best thing. The video clip can be accessed from the Glenloy Wildlife Facebook page (if you haven’t already done so, please remember to like us). It is probable that as with the beavers on the River Tay we now have an irreversible ‘natural’ reintroduction to the Scottish fauna.

On other matters we finally got round to doing a circular walk around the River Shiel and Castle Tioram recently, for  the first time since the Silver Walk along the shores of Loch Moidart has been cleared of rhododendron. A nice section along the river and into the Shiel estuary looks a likely spot to take guests for a short walk. There is mixed woodland followed by areas of mudflat, as well as the river itself. A few smart goldeneye were fishing in the river; it always surprises me how shy these ducks are. Out on the estuary there were good numbers of wigeon and merganser in the channels, along with a range of waders. A woodcock shot up from under our feet as we passed along the wooded shore, and a treecreeper wound its way up the bole of an oak before flitting off to the next tree. The highlight of the walk, however, was ottery. We watched a bitch otter fishing at the other side of the loch, and followed it for some way as it hunted along the rocky shore, occasionally bringing up a larger fish onto the bank. The otter then changed tack and swam directly towards us, finally disappearing into a pile of rocks almost directly underneath where we standing. This was accompanied by a delighted squealing, and shortly after two cubs emerged on the shore above the rocks into which their mother had disappeared. They played hide and seek for a while, together with their mother, before she went off fishing again and they retreated back into the holt. As we continued to watch, another otter swam by the area where the cubs were concealed. The situation was further confused by a number of little grebes in the same stretch of water that were diving and popping up in a similar manner to the two adult otters. We can’t guarantee that Glenloy Wildlife guests will see the same performance, but we will be trying for a repeat!

Back at the Lodge we have been busy thinking about our programme for next year. We have added a number of short breaks that we hope people will find exciting. One of these will be a weekend looking for otters, in a variety of beautiful West Coast locations. We also hope to run specific breaks looking for cetaceans, rare butterflies including chequered skipper, and to watch the red deer rut. We will also offer guest the opportunity of tailor-made trips or early morning expeditions in search of blackcock, otters and other wildlife. It promises to be a busy year. Please have a look at our website for more details, and look out for our Newsletter, which should be available shortly. We hope that you will be able to join us. In the meantime have a very Merry Christmas, and all the best for 2013.