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The North American mink is unfortunately becoming a common sight along the Water of Leith. In the past few weeks we have had 5 sightings of this unwelcome visitor. With so many birds beginning to hatch chicks I am sad to say it is a boom time for this ferret like mammal. One alarming report from Stockbridge suggested that a family or group of 5 mink were out hunting together!.

Sadly there is very little we can do to halt the action of mink or remove them from our river. Trapping and shooting is a costly and tricky activity in urban areas particularly as children may find the traps or domestic cats may enter by mistake. We do however keep an eye on their activity so do report any sightings to us - date, time of day, exact location and if possible grid refernce.

One of the most frequent questions we get asked is about the difference between otters and mink

Mink -  generally have a long slim body covered in glossy, thick dark brown fur with a white patch under the chin, however they can appear grey or black. Adults are between 20 and 24 inched long and they have short legs with partially webbed feet, which make them excellent swimmers. They can be found in wooded areas and fields near streams and lakes. They do not dig burrows, but instead take over dens abandoned by other animals. They will hunt day or night. So if you see a mammal out during the day dark chocolate in colour and smaller than a cat chances are its a mink. See the following link for more info:

 Otters - are generally larger and nearly always much more elusive prefering to live alone and hunt at dusk and dawn. More of a milk chocolate colour with a paler underside they have large webbed feet and a thick powerful rudder like tail. They are fairly large up to a meter in length, so are more like the size of a dog. They dig their own homes call holts and feed more or less exclusively on fish. Otters are spotted fairly frequently on the river often by fishermen.

This is a picture of the Water of Leith otter taken in 2008 by Gerry



Plant Sale this Saturday

This Saturday 9th May sees the 5th annual plant sale at the Water of Leith Visitor Centre. Starting at 10.00 am there will be thousands of plants at bargain prices. We have had donations from Pentland Plants, Alba Trees and many of our green fingured volunteers - Thank you. So we will have herbacious garden plants, shrubs, trees, bedding plants, herbs and even vegetables. There will be garden centre stock at rock bottom prices and of course Georges famous rhubarb. We ask for a 50p donation on entry with a free packet of seed from SNH for the first 50 visitors. Home baking Cafe will be open all day and there will even be a cake stall for those who do not have a garden. All proceeds from the sale help us to protect Edinburgh's River.


120 Volunteers at 4 clean-ups

The Water of Leith Blitz continues with a wopping 120 people turning out for the clean-ups last Sunday. Another sunny day greeted the morning crews. Over 30 people came to the Bell's Mill Weir clean-up including a number of volunteers for Edinburgh Global Partnership (Ed Uni Students), and they set about clearing off the trapped wood, and rubbish all burnt off in 2 huge and hot fires - I think we may have lost a few eyebrows that day. We also managed the stinky job of clearing out the lade which now flows like a dream. Coltbridge residents joined the effort after bacon butties and used their canoes to get to the litter in those hard to reach places. After lunch the residents of Warriston Cresent turned out to clear their patch and up in Colinton around 50 volunteers arrived from the village, Bonaly Primary and the Tippereth Composters to make sure this beauty spot stays beautiful. Here are some pics of our clean-up at Bells Mill. No rest though with clean-ups this week in Dean Village and next week Stockbridge and Cannonmills...phew..


Busy Weekend of Clean-ups ahead

This Sunday will see over 100 people rolling up their sleeves, donning a pair of wellies and tackling the rubbish in Edinburgh's river. Clean-ups have been arranged for Colinton by Colinton Amenity Association, Coltbridge by local residents and Bell's Mill by ourselves and the Edinburgh Sports Club. So if you fancy doing something dirty this weekend why not join us. Contact us by email or call 0131 455 7367 for more details.


Geocachers and the Scottish Government help with River Spring Clean

Last week was very busy on the river as the efforts of the 2009 Spring Clean-up continued. An enthusiastic team from the Scottish Government, set to work in Bonnington on Thursday and had a huge task as always in that area, compounded by the fact that we meet fly tippers from Land Engineering and DMG surfacing LTD whilst trying to clean-up the area!!!. The Geocachers met by following GPS coordinates to Saughton Park on Saturday. A team of 40 gathered and along with the usual debris and detritus they pulled the biggest cable drum from the water and managed to dig out and remove filing cabinet which has been buried by the river for at least 10 years, finally it is out - you can see from the photo it took quite alot of team work. Thank you to both groups. Keep an eye on the blog for clean-ups in your area.