Rare venture out

Published: 17th August 2011

In the peak of holiday season we scacely find time to make it out of Glenloy Lodge, let alone do much wildlife watching. Fortunately we do not have to go far to indulge ourselves, and much can be seen from the Lodge itself.
The star attraction, our local Pine Marten does not appear to have bred successfully this season. I thjought she was taking food off to kits earlier in the summer, but none have appeared and I suspect she may have lost them, which is a great pity. She still comes around regulalry, and can be seen sometimes in the company of a larger male, which we think is her son from last year – although they maintain a polite distance from each other. Yesterday she was perched on one of the posts at the top of our steps at four in the afternoon, obviously waiting to see if anyone would come and feed her – which of course we did. It is often quieter at this time – the rush hour from 5 – 7.30 is no place for small furry animals. People watching at this time can be in for a wait. If the pine martens are not about, however, there is usually something else to watch – including the many chaffinches, and the ubiquitous robins that are intent on pinching the pm food.The vole under the steps also sallies forth in lightning forays to drag bits of bread into its hole. Five buzzards were taking advantage of a rare thermal the other day, and there is always the prospect of an eagle or an osprey for those prepared to sit and watch.
Slightly further afield the canal banks are resplendent with late summer flowers – blues (harebell), yellows (ragwort, trefoil), reds (willowherb, knapweed), purple (scabious, thistles) and white (yarrow, angelica). There has been a good display this year, and flowers seem to have been blossoming for longer, which means there has been a wider variety in bloom at any one time. There is even some Wood Cranesbill still flowereing, whilst others such as eyebrights and tormentil seem to have been showing for months. On the down side a rather damp and dreich August has meant that there have been fewer insects about, particularly butterflies. I did, however see a newly emerged Peacock today, possibly the first of this year's 2nd hatch locally. Walking through the bog by the river put up many Scotch Argus – they at least appear to be flourishing.
A couple of unexpected local sightings, also within spitting distance of the lodge. At long last the local verges have been cut (just a swathe down either side of the road, leaving plenty of flowers). Whether this was coincidence or not, the day after we saw a lizard cross the road beyond Loy Bridge, and close by there was a Slow-worm in the middle of the tarmac. Not a healthy place to stop. On a rare foray this afternoon to the side of the river I was astounded to see a Badger trotting along a path towards me. Unfortunately it was on the other side of a fence from me and disappeared into thick scrub before it reached me, but I got the impression it either hadn't seen me or didn't care. A rare afternoon sighting, albeit in a quiet area, just a stone throw away from the busy Great Glen Way. Will certainly keep my eye out for more badgers in future around there.