On Sunday afternoon I was at a Water of Leith Conservation Trust volunteer meeting, where we passed round a jar which contained a piece of otter spraint (poo!) (as you do!). It actually smells surprisingly pleasant, sort of a fishy jasmine tea type of smell.
Yesterday I was at the Trust's AGM where the guest speaker was ecologist Melanie Findlay of Findlay Ecology Services. Melanie is an otter expert (though she didn't share the secret behind the jasmine tea scent of otter poo!) and a very engaging speaker. She shared a lot of information about the otters' family life (including some adorable video clips of young otters) and about their diet (mostly eels and other fish, but they also eat invertebrates and have been known to eat rabbits! She also showed photos of various signs of otters, not just spraint, but also a weird looking stuff that is formed when otters eat frogs and then spit out the unformed spawn - this is exactly what I had seen recently in Musselburgh (so there are probably otters there!). The otters are doing well on the Water of Leith but are generally elusive (I've only seen one once!).
Today was my regular patrolling walk along part of the river, that I do as part of my volunteering with the trust. I was particularly delighted to see two great spotted woodpeckers as well as dippers, a heron, a buzzard and a flock of long tailed tits. But the most unusual wildlife sighting wasn't a bird but about a hundred orange ladybirds (Halyzia 16-guttata), all gathered in groups in the tops of fence posts! I've never seen this type of ladybird here before and never anywhere in such numbers! The photo isn't any good, but it gives you an idea of how many of these insects were gathering together.
Daily Haiku again! Today's haiku is about the Colinton tunnel on the Water of Leith walkway!
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