A wee summary of 2013 part one
Yes I know it is almost April but I thought I would just add a wee post on my highlights of the tours I did last year and some of the special people I was lucky to meet and share my love of Castor Fiber. Now, some of you will have read this stuff before, but it’s just a wee reminder to myself how much I loved my tours last year.
Well, a queer month tbh compared to the one the year before. I had a few sightings in the middle of the month, one of which was in a blizzard on the 18th I think, -2 0r -3, snow, hail and sleet pummelling me and I near stood on juvenile beaver feeding on the bank, I don’t know who got the biggest fleg (fright to those not acquaint with my Heiland tongue) but I near jumped out of my trousers. Minimal sightings after that but the weather really took a weird change for the worse as the 27th in 2012 was roasting, 27 deg in Edinburgh, 2013 had a difference of -1, a difference of 28 deg!!!
Kingfishers! lol!!! Some people can/will never see them, well I near had one in my ear! The adults were obviously very close to a bridge I had to cross to see the beavers, and this one night as I was crossing it, a male kingfisher literally missed hitting me by 2 or 3 inches, I actually felt the breeze of the wings as he whooshed past me, brilliant experience tbh, absolutely gorgeous birds, almost belong in the tropics if you think about their wonderful colouration. As you are all aware, I love nature and one animal that I would put right up there with the beaver is the otter, stunning creature. Anyway, mum otter and her pup were taking a great interest in the lodge at this point and their holt was no more than 100 yds downstream from the lodge, so regular sightings were almost guaranteed, which was a bloody bonus as far as I was concerned. The playfulness of them, the shear ruthlessness of them and their absolute beauty is truly something to behold (http://youtu.be/vxra0nzfnZM ), and I love them to bits. A wee story from the previous year (2012) which involved the otter/beaver relationship is as follows, and it is true as I witnessed a fair bit of it myself. I had been down the river in early July 2012, it was around 21:30 and starting to get quite rubbish for light, so I put my video camera back in my jacket pocket. As I was walking up the river, all hell broke loose on the opposite bank, an otter had tried to attack a beaver kit and mum beaver literally exploded into action and chased the otter away from her 2 kits, not a great video due to it being dark and hand held but you can see the beaver rescuing her kits ( http://youtu.be/rjzKoDQGF-Y ). The weird thing though, was how the beavers reacted after that. At this point, the holt was only 75 yds or so upstream from the lodge, so the beaver kits were a very viable target for the otters. However, the wily rodents over the space of a few weeks were observed packing the holt entrance with sticks, stones and mud. Strange thing is, in 2013, the beavers actually took over the beaver lodge just after the female beaver gave birth, as she had moved her kits and family 600 yds or more upstream 3 days after birth. This video (http://youtu.be/TmCQjiAFKmc ) shows the otters in the hopefully newly vacated lodge. There may or may not have been kits in there and taken by this top predator, but there were only ever 2 kits observed after that and the relationship between the two species was certainly edgy to say the least over the next month or so.
So much to say about May, so many good memories but the one that really stands out is when I had a couple of locals down on a tour, Mark and Angela. As we were walking to the river, Angie was telling me she had a wee kingfisher tattooed on her back but had never seen one, nor had she seen a beaver or otter. What a night, we had just sat down and the beavers appeared directly across from us, then a water vole swam from below our feet across to the lodge. Apparently the beaver are actually not too fussed about sharing their abode with other rodents and this has been observed on numerous occasions. Anyway, to say Angie was chuffed is an understatement and it only got better. There were kingfishers zipping up and down the river, then did we not just have a couple of otters showing up and only 30 ft or so from us. As we walked backed to the car that night, I swear Angie looked like a certain cat from Cheshire and she still smiles to this day any time this evening comes into conversation. One other thing we observed that month was a tree climbing beaver!!! Now, it might be a rodent, but it ain’t no squirrel but give it credit, it does have a decent go, but it’s rubbish as you can see ( http://youtu.be/ZD6y5q0Ecbk). I also got to meet and befriend possibly the best beaver photographer in Scotland, Rhona Forrester. But more about her later in the story. Among other tour participants I also met Wilma and Phil a really lovely couple, but this was one of the few nights we didn’t get a viewing and I was truly gutted for them.