South-Esk find

FOUR-YEAR-OLD Lilly-Angela Paton has a new friend - thanks to the keen eye of her grand-father Billy Paton (writes Alan Ducat).

A keen angler, and member of Brechin Angling Club since moving to Brechin from down south six years ago, Billy was giving the Matrix beat of the River South Esk the once-over ahead of the start of the new salmon season when he came across what he is now pretty sure is a mud turtle.

Native to America, mud turtles grow to about five inches, preferring damp, sandy, or muddy habitats as their name suggests.

And, it was on a small sand bank on the river that Billy spotted the new family pet, christened Valentine by young Lilly-Angela, as it had been found on February 14.

“I was walking along the river bank when I came upon Valentine, basking in the sun,” explained Billy.

“I thought it was a small tortoise at first, and reckoned it must have escaped from some nearby garden.

“I took it to the local pet shop and my daughter Moira went to the library to get a reference book. After some research and local expert opinion we have come to the conclusion that it is a mud turtle.

“We can only speculate as to how it came to be on the river bank, but we now have it housed in a tank at our home in Montrose Street.

“I popped down to the river to gather stones, sand and weeds to create the environment in which I found it and it seems pretty happy at the moment,” added Billy.

“My daughter wanted to call the mud turtle Little Love but settled on Valentine, as it was last Tuesday when I came across it.

“We reckon it is now fully grown and about four to five years old.

“Our plans at the moment are to give it a good home, but if someone has lost their pet and wants it back they can come and talk to me.”

Meanwhile, with the salmon season up and running again, Billy will find himself a regular on the banks of the South Esk.

A regular among the club awards, he won the cup for the biggest fish caught on the South Esk three years in succession.