Seeing out 2018 on the Black Isle; Pine Marten, Otter and windy coastlines…

I decided to head up to Hillockhead, with Wren, to see out 2018… the open spaces, coast and the prospect of lots of trail cam footage is always a big pull for me (and it’s good to see Tim again of course!)

Tim now has a number of trail cameras and has been monitoring a series of sites that are now reaping the rewards! When we set them up in the summer, we were very excited to capture our first pine marten footage…. now pine marten footage is common and we are now trying to identify individuals who are visiting a selection of feeding stations.

One feeding station is attracting a number of individuals and three appear on one clip. I think these are an adult and two of this year’s youngsters.

Of course other animals like to take advantage of the food available and mice often dominate the footage, but a badger has also been visiting occasionally…

It was also lovely to see this Roe deer popping in, to check it out…

This set up is at the same site as the clips above. The Bushnell was moved to try and capture side views of the marten so we can see the bibs. The bibs on pine marten are all different and can be used to ID individuals…

It has worked pretty well and screen captures will help me draw up some diagrams for ID purposes. We are also going to hang some food so they have to reach up for it, again displaying their bibs.

The otter sites are also producing some excellent footage! One of the first areas we set a trail camera is where a stream runs down the hillside onto the beach. Tim regularly captures footage of individuals moving through. This week, the footage showed wonderful clips of a female and cub!

We watched this same pair hunting close to the shore on the beach today and found some lovely footprints..

The heron also likes hunting here….

Another fresh water pool is further along the beach. This Bushnell has been there for a month. On one particularly high tide, the camera was almost washed away!

Luckily, it carried on working and captured some lovely clips of curlew, enjoying the fresh water…

We set it up again, a little higher up this time…

These are just a few clips of the many captured from all the cameras. These trail cameras are a brilliant way to start understanding how the local area is used by its wildlife. It’s also an excellent way to get you out and about, walking miles along this lovely coastline!