The snow departed as rapidly as it had arrived, leaving spring to slowly envelop the land. And it is slow this far north; the first of the spring lambs is still a couple of weeks away. But the primroses are in full bloom now and the spring visiting birds are back.

We have always had a good number of oyster catchers in the strath at this time of year, and this year seem son exception. Our long standing friends who nest by the house seem to have returned again, and they are welcome. Even more interesting we have seen several nesting pairs of curlews, including one pair which we can see on the hill from the house. Curlews are struggling nationally so it is pleasing that we seem to be doing something right for them here.

We also saw a hen harrier quartering the strath the other day. They are not a permanent presence here, but a fairly regular visitor.

Otters are also a regular presence in the strath. They are quite elusive but their prints are a regular sight on the river bank and a passing cyclist told me they had seen one close to the track a few days ago.

We are thinking at the moment about what else we can do to nurture the wildlife in the strath. We plan to reduce the overall sheep numbers to limit the grazing pressure and will be looking for some rural development grants for further habitat improvement. Of course, these grants are not guaranteed and we shall have to make our case with others for a dwindling pool of public money. It will be close to then end of the year before we know what success we have had. I’ll let you know more then about our plans.

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