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Kayaking and Wildlife


The eerie yodelling sound of a black-throated diver (BTD) echoing across a still, misty loch in the first light of day is enough to send a tingle down the spine. This is one of our most beautiful breeding birds. In the summer it sports a striking black and white chequered back, slate grey head, black throat and striped neck. The BTD is also one of our rarest breeders. Only around 200 pairs nest in the British Isles, all in Scotland, and north of highland Perthshire. They prefer large freshwater lochs, preferably with islands and most of the breeding sites have been designated as Special Protection Areas – lochs such as Maree, Sheil and Garry are amongst them. Unfortunately their breeding success has declined over the past few years and one reason has been disturbance which causes the birds to abandon the nest and the eggs are then vulnerable to predation or cooling. The breeding period of May to June also happens to coincide with the best time for paddlers to be on the water. It’s a wonderful experience paddling on a beautiful highland loch and listening to that haunting call so no one would want to feel that they might be responsible for hastening that becoming another lost sound. However paddling and BTD’s needn’t be incompatible and the Scottish Canoe Association have produced some very helpful guidelines


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