Learning to navigate the waters

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The other day I was on an otter surveying and mitigation course at Dunblane, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

Being me I drove up early for a dawn patrol along the river before the course began.

How glorious the River Allan was on on that bright spring morning.

Mayflies danced their seasonal ballet while grey wagtails plucked them from the air.

Nature clearly knows what she is doing, synchronising the hatching of riverside birds with the annual bounty of mayflies.

This dipper was just one of the avian cast benefiting from the abundance of insect life and death.

With a bill full of prey, the bird was doing a fair impression of a puffin carrying multiple sand eels.

Even now after all these years I find it hard to believe in this snorkeling songbird.

To watch a thrush-like species wade in and disappear underwater, only to bob up some distance away with a prey item, still seems contrary to songbird rules.

As for the otter surveying I was back later with my fellow ecologists, wading sticks in hand and waders to the oxters as we surveyed under the banks in search of spoor and spraint. poor of course is paw prints and spraint is poo.

Of course I have 50 years experience of tracking, but then there are all the regulations, laws and licensing to learn about, much of which emanates from Europe.

No doubt if we vote to leave Europe I will have to learn all the new laws we will require!