Then came the Beavers. We saw two individuals for sure, possibly four. A large female showed several times - and impressively. What was possibly the male carried a branch or two 100m downriver.
One or probably two of this year's kits emerged and showed on the northern riverbank, largely around vegetation.
Bob thought the Beavers (particularly the youngsters) oddly timid that evening. We, however, had a ball! Nine cracking sightings over the next 90 minutes until our stomachs (empty since breakfast) demanded attention.
Will, Ian and I had an excellent trip to Scotland last week. I'll blog about this properly in due course. For now, the closing highlight on day 1. All of us wanted to see Eurasian Beaver, so it made sense to try for the (escaped and now naturalised) Tayside population. One option was to visit Loch of the Lowes, where they are regularly seen from the hide (May-Aug best). Indeed, on day 2 of our trip (2 Aug), the Scottish Wildlife Trust was running an evening to see them. That option didn't quite accord with our schedule, however, as we wished to be further south on the night of the 2nd. The alternative seemed to be to book an evening with 'Beaver Bob', Bob Smith. Bob lives in Blairgowrie, and has spent 3,000 hours watching his local Beavers. He has even shown them to BBC Springwatch and to Julian Clary. Two years ago, Bob kindly showed Mike Hoit (a mate) the animals, and had previously shown them to Richard Webb. In both cases, there was no fee - just a donation to the Scottish Wild Beaver Group. Bob's life has moved on, and circumstances mean that he now charges - but only £50 per group which, split three ways, is very reasonable. He also has a Pine Marten (and Goshawk etc) hide, to which he is currently getting seven individual martens near Kirkmichael, available for £100 per group. Sadly we did not have time to try this. Instead, we met Bob in Blairgowrie Tesco car park at 18h00, and he drove us a few km to the site along the River Ericht. The burrows were on the north side of the river south of East Mill, details of which are given in Richard Webb's trip report (linked above). For Bob's sake, I am not revealing our actual access point (which is a private location), but there did seem to be a public footpath along the south side of the river so presumably you can walk in from the west or east. We sat down about 1830 and started watching the river for signs of moving vegetation or ripples in the water.
We waited. Dense brown water slothed by. Carcasses of trees slumped towards a freshwater Davy Jones' locker. We waited. A mayfly pirouetted innocently. We waited. The first movement, about 18h50, came to our left. It proved to be an Otter pouring itself into the water. No other mammal so unabashedly straddles the intersection between the elements of land and water. Bob said that the Otters are skittish here, being regularly chased off by the Beavers. We had reasonable views for a minute or so as it slunk along the river bank before disapparating.