Unusual visitor to garden at Nedd

January 14th 2015

On 13th January 2015, I noticed these footprints in the snow on our drive (NC1331). The y-shaped pattern is typical of rabbits and hares. The smaller impressions in line at the rear are those of the front feet and the larger ones alongside one another at the front those of the hind feet (try that on the carpet!). The size of the stride and impressions indicates rabbit, which is an oddly scarce mammal at Nedd nowadays. My records show sightings or signs up to four times a year from 1991 to 1999, often in the winter, when the tracks are obvious. I have a note of tracks in the snow on 7th February 2001, but none since. We shall hope that our remaining brassicas do not attract their attention!

The populations of rabbits in ‘hot spots’ on the limestone and around the coast of Assynt have fluctuated greatly in the past few decades, probably in response to the incidence of myxomatosis. However, the once burgeoning population around Inchnadamph disappeared very suddenly about 2010 and it does not yet seem to have recovered, with likely knock-on effects on predators such as golden eagle, buzzard, stoat and wild cat. There is a suggestion that another, much more lethal, disease was involved in this unusually drastic change.

Ian M. Evans

Rabbit tracks Nedd. Photo Ian Evans
Rabbit tracks Nedd. Photo Ian Evans

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Recent Sightings

Shelduck

Two adult birds and nine juveniles off Culkein Drumbeg (DAH). Sadly a very rare record now for Assynt, but great to know we had at least one breeding pair this year. (25/07)

House Martin

15+ birds around Culkein Drumbeg jetty (DAH) and large number also around Culag Hotel, Lochinver. (Andrew Mackenzie) Both records late evening. (25/07)

Common Lizard

Single animal, Clashmore (Andrew Mackenzie) (25/07)

Red-throated Diver

Two birds, Bay of Stoer (DAH) (24/07)

Common Dolphin

15+ very active animals just off Sgeir Mhòr, Loch Kirkaig (DAH) (24/07)

Black-throated Diver

Six birds in a group, Loch Kirkaig (DAH) (24/07)

Antler moth (Cerapteryx graminis)

Single moth in Strathan garden (Jean Macleod) (24/07)

Magpie moth (Abraxas grossulariata)

Single moth Clachtoll, (Dorell Pirie) (24/07)

Map