Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Sammy the Inchmarnock otter is an imposter!.

Once we had negotiated the reefs exposed by low tide, the upper beach on the west coast of Inchmarnock was a broad expanse of cobbles.

We set up camp at the top of the beach and set to preparing our evening meal.

We had a grandstand view across the Sound of Bute to the rocky ridges of the north Sannox mountains of Arran. The notch of Ceum na Cailich, (the Witch's Step) and the granite tors on the summit of Caisteal Abhail (this means "castle of death" not "stronghold of the ptarmigan" as you may read elsewhere). A yacht was beating up the Sound into the cold northerly wind which also brought the remarkably clear air.

Due to the chill wind we wasted no time in getting the fire and...

 ...the baked potatoes on.

 This must be one of the best views in Scotland and we had it all to ourselves until...

 ...what I thought was Sammy the otter put in an appearance. He ran along the beach from where a little trickle of a burn issued into the sea.

 He made for his favourite fishing...

 ...pool where he caught several sea urchins before...

...heading home again.  What a place, we were just 50km from my house in Glsgow but there was not a sight of human habitation.

I am grateful to Ian and Ben (see comments below) for correctly identifying this animal as a mink. The first unconfirmed sighting of a mink on neighbouring Bute was in 1981 and the first confirmed report was a dead mink at the north of Bute in 1982. Since then numbers have increased. Local naturalist JA Gibson has published an account "Atlas of Bute and Cumbrae vertebrates, 1980". An update Supplementary notes on Bute vertebrates was published in the Buteshire Transactions in 2004. In it Gibson writes about the mink  "I believe it has not yet reached Inchmarnock." and "During a visit to Inchmarnock in 2001 no mink were seen and there was no obvious predation on eider nests." It is sad that the mink is now indeed on Inchmarnock.


  1. Great piccies as ever Sir but not sure about your amphibious mammal...........

  2. Ben Blackburn06/08/2015, 11:04

    Isn't that Morris?

    Wondering whether 'Inchmarnock otter' is a euphemism for a mink.

    . . . Ben

  3. indeed so, face, way it swims, standing up very dry fur, body shape,long leggs and fluffy tail.

    As far as mink goes it quite a pretty one though!

    Imagine most of us would think Otter seeing a beastie in that location and behaving like that

  4. Thank you very much Ian and Ben. I have updated the post. Another factor which should have made me think mink was its bold behaviour. It spent a lot of time in the open on land. Previous otters I have seen have not.

  5. As you've posted, Mink are a long-standing problem on Bute Douglas. When my parents-in-law lived on the shore of the east Kyle over 20 years ago their chickens were all killed in a single attack - a trap set after the event caught a Mink within days. Not good that they've now reached the Inch as well....

    Kind regards