Spring is Coming!

Published: 28th February 2009

Since the big melt some 10 days ago there has been some encouraging signs of spring in and around Glen Loy. A bubbling mass in the garden pond heralded the arrival of frogs, shortly followed by a heron, which appears each morning and flies off when I open the curtains. There is no sign of frogspawn here yet, but usually it is slightly later to appear in larger water bodies. At the beginning of the week the first oystercatchers of the year were calling from the river gravels towards Gairlochy. Although we are not far from the coast, it is far enough for this to be a distinct inland movement. Likewise song thrushes have been warming up , albeit tentatively, and chaffinch are now singing almost incessantly. Bulbs are sprouting up everywhere, along with the fleshy green leaves of lesser celandine, although there are few floweres to be seen yet. One of the more exciting spring sightings was that of a black-throated diver on Loch Lochy last weekend (22nd). This bird appeared to show signs of plumage transition, although whether this visit is a genuine return to fresh water, or simply avoidance of coastal storms, is uncertain – it was very welcome nonetheless.

We spent some time in February surveying a couple of local 1km squares for signs of badger activity, as part of the national survey. Surveying is always an interesting exercise as there is always something to see, even if it is not what you're looking for, and you get a much better grasp of the lie of the land. One of our squares was completely badger free, but the other produced a huge sett, albeit well known, with as many as 18 holes and at least three active outlier setts within a few hundred metres. Definitely an area to revisit in the next few weeks to see if the badgers can be readily watched. Having badgers very much in mind it was great to see a live badger last night by the side of the road, on our way back from Fort William. It was quite a small animal (last year's cub?) that soon disappeared into the verge, but only after turning to let us see its stripey face. Another sign that spring is on its way!