There is wildlife aplenty at Tigh a’ Mhaide and in the surrounding area but many of our resident or visiting creatures are shy – or nocturnal – so spotting them isn’t always easy.
However, thanks to a wildlife camera in the woods, we’ve recently been treated to images of foxes, deer and a local badger.
We’ve even caught a fleeting glimpse of a passing otter which came almost nose-to-nose with one of the foxes before retreating hastily to the river. There are an estimated 8,000 otters in Scotland, living along the coasts or beside clean rivers and lochs and although the population is flourishing, it was still a surprise to see one.
Our most common visitors are roe deer. Along with red deer, these are native to Scotland and are a common sight.
There was great excitement here last month when we were joined by four young Khaki Campbell ducks (actually, three ducks and a drake to be more precise). They have kept us entertained, and on our toes, as they have adjusted to their new life on our duck pond.
The drake quickly earned the nickname McQueen, after US actor Steve McQueen’s famous, fence-leaping, motorcycle stunt in the 1963 film The Great Escape. In our McQueen’s case, the leap was wing-assisted rather than motorbike-assisted. Happily, we persuaded him back into the enclosure in which the ducks spent their first few days here while they became accustomed to their new home.
Pine martens are native to Scotland but are an uncommon sight. About the same size as an average cat, the pine marten is now a protected species with only an estimated 3,700 adults in Scotland.
Numbers declined dramatically in the 19th century when they were frequently killed by gamekeepers on sporting estates to stop them eating the young pheasants being reared for shooting. But they are again appearing in areas where they were once common and the native woodlands around Tigh a’ Mhaide are a perfect environment for them. They are beautiful creatures with their dark brown fur, long bushy tails and creamy yellow bibs.