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June 2014

Innes' Diary

The Bridge to Atholl

January 2014

OK, so I was wrong and I need to apologise for that....and I do, we haven't been overwhelmed by snow....yet!

But in mitigation we have had record precipitation over the last month and whereas I thought that would be combined with cold temperatures and, hence, snow in fact we have had quite mild weather so we have had a very wet,dreich month. Of course the snow might still come and ,in fact, the two worst winters in living memory of 1947 and 1963 both began in late January so I am holding on to the slim hope that even at the eleventh hour my “snow” prediction might come true.

Lack of snow, of course, has allowed us to get on with work that would otherwise have had to wait until March or April so borders have been tidied and pruned and a serious assault on broom has taken place. Broom can be a colourful shrub especially when part of the wide mixture of wild shrubs in the countryside but in the semi formal environment of a garden, albeit a large one, it can sneak up on you and before you know it wee, innocent plants are suddenly 4 or 5ft tall and about to take over.So broom has been attacked in the Palace gardens and the banks and woodland edges are looking the better for it.
In the ponds over the last week we have had our annual visit from a pair of goosanders. Powerful and beautiful birds and usually very difficult to get close to but the supply of small trout and insect larvae in the ponds means that, for a time at least, they put hunger before fear and so give us an unusual chance to watch them closely. Another unusual factor in their lifestyle is that the female nests in a hole high up in a tree. Yes, for such an ungainly bird, on land, this seems an odd piece of behaviour. I have only ever seen the young emerge once from such a hole and the sight of up to a dozen or more small balls of fluff leaping out and landing on the ground was fantastic. I had been drawn to the nest by the sound of the mother calling to encourage the wee things out. Soon they were all gathered up and off they went, downstream, with mum.

Castor fiber is back in Perthshire and it won’t be long, I suspect, before we will get the chance to see their work along the banks of the Tummel. I had a bike ride up to Loch Ordie last week and the sight of industry was all around. Castor fiber,of course, is the European beaver and it loves nothing better than to fell small alders or willow or other waterside trees. SNH have been carrying out a prolonged trial over in Argyll concerning the reintroduction of European beavers but the beavers got fed up waiting and have arrived themselves. Well, they must have had help from someone but they are back, expanding and that is such a tremendous story for an animal that we shot, trapped and snared out of our lives a few hundred years ago. Innes