Loch of the Lowes and Glenisla

Red Squirrel at Loch of the Lowes. Photo: Mike Pennington via wikimedia commons

Red Squirrel at Loch of the Lowes. Photo: Mike Pennington via wikimedia commons

I was lucky to have most of a day for mooching on Friday – and I was able to mooch in Perthshire and Angus.

I first went to the Loch of the Lowes – a famous Osprey site but also an easy place to see Red Squirrels.  Just because it is easy to see them there, it doesn’t mean that they are any the less pleasing and cute.  There is nothing wrong with Grey Squirrels, except that we have introduced them to our country, but the native Red Squirrel is a beautiful mammal and no mistake.  Later I watched a couple of Red Squirrels chasing each other round and round a large tree trunk. I don’t know enough to tell whether they were being friendly or unfriendly to each other – but they were agile and fast on a vertical surface.

Later that day I travelled up Glenisla and saw some snow on the hills. The river was full of snowmelt and there was little birdsong in the glen – nice Mistle Thrushes though.

As I travelled up the glen I saw a small flock of small, finch-looking, birds but wasn’t sure what they were. I saw them again on the way back – they were Redpolls. Their behaviour was interesting: they perched, not feeding, in the Birch trees, and then flew down, out of my sight, to a small stream running through some grassland. they may have been drinking but the fact they were in the same place for such a long time suggests they had found a good source of seeds. I wonder what they were.

That evening I gave a short talk at Waterstones in Perth and they sold a few copies of Inglorious. That was fun too and I’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Ross and others for setting it up and being such kind hosts.


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  1. murray marr says:

    Nice pic of a squirrel. One day they will be back in Sussex. The nearest surviving population is on the Isle of Wight, where there are no Greys.
    We used to have Pine Martens back in the 18th C too. If Sea Eagles can be reintroduced to Scotland why not martens to England? Greys can’t cope with them whereas Reds have always survived alongside this predator.
    The Redpolls’ food source? Possibly alder seeds from windblown twigs and branches. They break off easily.

    • Random22 says:

      In hindsight it is amazing that nobody has just tried illegally live trapping a few martens, driving them south in their boot or back of an old van the like of which can be found for less than a grand in any 2nd hand dealership, letting them loose, and then heading home for tea, coffee, or bovril. Obviously I advise against that, bovril is dreadful stuff for a start, but it is amazing that nobody has done it. Certainly for places like old London Town or New Forest. Hellaciously illegal of course, and in violation of all good practice. We are living in a world where people are actively talking about doing pretty much the same thing with lynx though (across international borders and waters to boot), and have already done it with beaver.

    • Lisa says:

      In case you didn't know, not England but they are being translocated to Wales, see http://www.pine-marten-recovery-project.org.uk/ .

      • Random22 says:

        Oh yes. A very worthwhile project. It is these glacially slow moving government projects that actually are preventing people taking the law into their own hands en masse really. No, really. Take away all hope and people say just screw it, we're doing it and get tonnes of support. Hold out a sliver of hope about something happening the correct and above all socially respectable way and you've instantly split the wildlife community into multiple factions.

  2. Daphne says:

    I particularly enjoyed this post, Mark. I think Red Squirrels are the most engaging little beasts, and it's nice to read about you enjoying them in your 'mooching moment'. I have to enjoy the behaviour of Greys too, especially the mad chasing around tree trunks you saw, but sadly we have to remember they carry the so-called squirrel pox virus and there's plenty of evidence of Red reduction (for a variety of reasons) when Grey are present.

    Can I just give a plug for the Red Squirrel Survival Trust... www.rsst.org.uk They are rather overshadowed sometimes by the Big Boys and they do some great work. An interesting, informative site too.

  3. MK says:

    Great post Mark and nice touch with the 'Read More' button - is that a new feature or have I missed it before?

  4. Louise Bacon says:

    Just been to Scotland (and yes, Iolo was there, in the hotel in front of the small cottage we rented) but to our surprise, not a squirrel to be seen all week. Seen them a fair few times, though. The most interesting watching of these little cute furries was in Bulgaria, in the hills, raiding bins at a Ski resort closing in the spring... just like other less cute beasts! cant help but like them, though.


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