It was Wednesday morning and I was feeling confident that today was the day I would find a Pine Marten on camera ,so I went outside to check. One of the cameras was pointed at a large rock in the garden where I had placed some food, when I looked at the rock I got rather excited when I saw what I suspected was Pine Marten Poo or spraint as it is often called. I grabbed the cameras and shot off inside shouting POO at the top of my voice to check immediately on the laptop. but I remained disappointed. I hadn't set up the camera trained on the rock properly so it didn't record anything and there was nothing on the other camera, but the Pine Marten had been in the garden, the poo was confirmed as Pine Marten. I was even more confident now that we would see one this week, as long as I set up the cameras properly! I did of course have to do the poo sniff test, It wasn't particularly smelly of much and certainly was not anything like fox poo! Check this link from the Vincent Wildlife Trust for more info on Pine Martens and how to recognise Marten poo.
Pine Marten poo with a pound coin for scale
Also at the cottage in the morning on the bird feeders was a Great Spotted Woodpecker:
In the cottage was a folder with lots of information on local walks, I thought it would be a good idea to go on one walk in particular to a nearby viaduct but it didn't say how long the walk was or how long it would take but we went anyway. The walk started on a similar route to saturday's walk onto the the old railway line but then went in the opposite direction, on the flat before gently rising up through trees and along the main A85. Beautiful views all around at the start, you could see for miles. It was a nice walk but long, It was roughly about 8 miles and we were both knackered by the time we got back. Along part of the walk we came across sev flowers called Devil's Bit Scabious, once used as a traditional remedy for some sking conditions. https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/wildflowers/devils-bit-scabious
The red line shows where we walked, the red marker at the top being the starter point.
You will see from some of the photos above that parts of the surrounding landscape have been harvested for timber.
The aim of the walk was to get to the Glen Ogle viaduct and we were not disappointed with the views when we got there. Check out these links for the viaduct itself and the old disused railway line at Killin.
The last 2 photos are a view of the viaduct taken from the road a few days later
Back at the cottage and earning a well earned rest after our long walk the fox appeared again in the opposite field and showed quite well, allowing me to get some nice photos.
The next morning I was hopeful that I might get something on one of the trailcams, 1 had nothing on it but when I checked the other I saw that it had been activated but by what? I rushed inside to check on the laptop. There was 1 image of the back end of a PINE MARTEN as it disappeared past the camera, at last I thought some photographic evidence. Not a brilliant photo as you can see but it gives hope to the rest of the week that I might get more and better footage.
The Red Squirrel was about by the feeders early but this time coming closer to the feeder on the ground right in front of the living room window. What a fantastic start to the day.
As we were in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National park we thought it a good idea to perhaps pay a visit to Loch Lomond itself especially as it was only about an hr's drive from the cottage. It was a nice day and a lovely drive. We ended up in a small village called Tarbet on the west shores of the Loch where we decided to embark on a boat trip. We used a company called Cruise Loch Lomond (https://www.cruiselochlomond.co.uk/cruises) and chose their 1 hr Northern Highlights cruise which sails over the deepest part of the loch, the water was calm and conditions were perfect. The surrounding scenery was simply stunning, I saw a Shearwater (probably a Manx) on the Loch as well as a small group of Goosanders and a huge Stag Red Deer on the hill tops but sadly no Eagle flying past.
One of the photos above features an island on the Loch known locally as Honeymoon Island where we saw Shags and Cormorants in the tops of the trees, follow the link below for more info on the island and find out how it gets its name. https://hiddenheritage.org.uk/explore/tarbet-isle/
Just down the road from Tarbet was the small conservation village of Luss on the Western shores of Loch Lomond with cracking views of Ben Lomond from the pier. We had a walk round this pretty village and explored the church yard and found a few interesting markings/emblems on some gravestones, take a look at a couple of the photos below and let me know what you think it might stand for. (email on email@example.com)
We left Luss and headed back towards our cottage but calling in at the Falls of Falloch on the way about 30 mins from Luss. A beautiful waterfall 30ft high set amongst a woodland backdrop. Given the time of year there was a huge amount of water at the falls and it was truly magnificent. It had a special shelter made out of woven steel rods to enable people to experience the falls much closer.
The metal plaque in the photo above at the end of the metal viewing platform contains a diary entry from Dorothy Wordsworth recalling the numerous Romantic writers and painters who visited the Falls in the early 19th century.
Enjoy the sound of the falls.
Back at the cottage, we were sat in the living room watching the Red Deer in the garden wandering around having a nibble, then it appeared to get its small antlers tangled in the bramble and we thought we would have to go to it's rescue but it managed to free itself. Below is a short video of the Bramble v Deer fight.
The bird feeders have been busy all week with a variety of species but perhaps the most numerous was the Chaffinch and this afternoon was no exception, here are a few pics and a video.
How time flies! It was Fri already and our last day at this fabulous wildlife wonderland. Perhaps the Pine Marten would have been about in the garden last night? I checked the Trailcams but found nothing. We decided just to stay local today and start with a visit to Loch Earn. A beautiful picturesque loch amid stunning scenery. Lochearnhead and the small conservation village of St-fillians lie by it's shores. The loch itself is about 7 miles long and is used for fishing and water sports. Check these 2 links for more info.
The last photo shows the river Earn as it flows from the loch to join the river Tay at Bridge of Earn.
After the dramatic scenery around Loch Earn we headed backed into Killin. I wanted to visit the local smokehouse, unfortunately there was no smoked salmon to sample but there were samples of a fresh batch of a Whiskey Smoked Cheddar which was quite nice so I bought some to take home. (it goes very well in a cheese toastie). Check their website out. https://www.fallsofdochartsmokehouse.co.uk/
Across the bridge was the old mill, having been saved and restored now plays an important part in the local community housing a gallery and gift shop and a place for the community to hold events. The Wheel of the Water Mill was actually working which was great to see.
A final view of the hill (sron a chlachain) that my wife climbed earlier in the week dominating the landscape around the town.
Back at the cottage in the afternoon we spotted a small group of Red Deer in the opposite field. It has been a fantastic week for sightings of this amazing animal and the best sightings I have ever had of wild Red Deer.
Even the Fox was in awe at the magnificence of the Red Deer.
I had 1 more chance on the last night to try for Pine Marten. The rock where I had seen the poo and a brief sighting was the focal point. 2 cameras trained on it. Food on and around it including a few eggs I had left over. (I thought the eggs a good idea as a Pine Marten might take birds eggs) All I had to do was wait!
The Sky at Night:
One of the wonders of the world must be to look at a clear night sky and marvel at the stars and planets and ponder just what might be out there in space. It can be difficult to get a decent view of the stars especially in towns and cities because of the amount of artificial light pollution. In this small part of Perthshire the night sky truly was phenomenal. We woke up in the early hours of sat morning (about 1am) and my wife looked outside and commented how clear it looked so we opted to take a look outside. First word was something like WOW! We had never seen so many stars, there was absolutely no light pollution anywhere in the immediate vicinity. There were stars everywhere you looked and at least one planet, possibly Jupiter. Here are a few photos I took with my mobile in night mode, you should be able to make out the stars.
It was Saturday and we were quite sad to be leaving this wonderful place, lots of amazing wildlife, fantastic scenery all around and some wonderful places visited during the week but the question remains did the Pine Marten appear on camera? We were up early to start packing the car but first thing I had to do was check the cameras. When I went outside I noticed 2 of the eggs I had put out on the rock had gone, my head was buzzing in anticipation, I picked up the first camera, 1 activation (which I can look out on the camera) BINGO - PINE MARTEN (just a short clip) I grabbed the other camera and head back inside shouting PINE MARTEN, I GOT THE PINE MARTEN! I grabbed the laptop to check the other camera footage. Massive smile on my face, Absolutely amazing fantastic footage of the Pine Marten on the rock trying to get one of the eggs. Mission accomplished.
Here is the clip, let me know what you think.
We both had a fantastic week here at Oak Cottage and cannot recommend it highly enough. In a quiet location with lots of amazing wildlife to keep you company during your stay. For us this was the perfect holiday.