Talking to a friend the other day I was struck by his involvement in the environment around him while passing an evening on the South Esk just downstream from Brechin.

We had just been talking about the current efforts being made by SNH and several other organisations to control a minor explosion in the population of mink in central Scotland.

And he said: “I saw one last night on the south bank of the Kinnaird Dam.”

This would certainly be a very difficult place to place a trap as the terrain is so very steep and slippery beyond belief.

However, there have been several other sightings both above and below the town, a fact which is causing the organisers to take note.

I am told that if you watch closely on the famous gravel bank in River Street you might very well see one at fairly close range.

He went on to mention cormorants, which always appear on our river at the time of the smolt migration.

They, along with their fellow predators, goosanders and mergansers, are responsible for the decimation of these juvenile salmon and sea trout.

I was pleased to hear of a population map of avian predators is to be put together over the next year and, when complete, it will be presented to the appropriate government department in order to underline the extent of the problem.

Next on the list, and this time a welcome one, is the reappearance of the kingfisher.

You must be aware and have the luck to see these sparkling blue birds.

Anywhere down the Middle Bankie is the place to watch and there are may other delights to see on the river bank.

At this time we have just the chance of sighting his next visitor. At least two otters are in residence and what a pleasure it is to have them so close to the town.

Yes, they eat fish, but they take fewer than the nets and they we welcome to our river.

Others to watch for are mallard duck, albeit that the mink have taken many of this year’s young and there are also several other types of duck along with waders and the ever present dipper or, as we used to call them, the “water craw”.

Last of all a species we could well do without - “poachers”.

This, unfortunately, is something which seems to be on the increase and sadly some seem to be migrant workers from Europe, but not all. I have also spoken to many locals who seem to have no idea of the law of the land.

They ought to be aware it is illegal to fish for salmon and sea trout without permission and if you are caught you will land in court and lose all you fishing tackle.

No matter how ignorant you might be, ignorance is no excuse and the police and bailiffs will eventually appear.

It goes to show just what a variety of life there is on our local river bank. Some we welcome, some we could well do without, but if you are a nature lover get out and visit your local nature reserve.

Tight Lines,

by Bill Balfour.