Brilliant blue kingfishers show how Mother Nature can rewild the Water of Leith – Susan Morrison

The woman on the radio said, in a very anxious voice, “what are the risks of introducing the wolves to the hills?”

Kingfishers have been spotted fishing for baggy minnies, not minnows, in the Water of Leith (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Kingfishers have been spotted fishing for baggy minnies, not minnows, in the Water of Leith (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

For a moment I thought she was talking about introducing Mr and Mrs Wolf to Mr and Mrs Hill, knowing that the Wolf family were deranged cannibals planning to have the Hills for the main course.

Then I realised she was talking about releasing wild wolves on the Scottish hills. Great idea. Love a wolf, me. Yes, I know big snarly beasties are dangerous, but there must be anti-wolf protective devices available?

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The wolf that ate Red Riding Hood's granny got dispatched by an axe. I look forward to the Go Outdoors Wolf Chopper being released at the same time as the wolves.

This re-introduction of vanished animals is called rewilding. Even Mr Johnson jumped on the bandwagon recently in his conference speech, by including a peculiar promise to ‘Build Back Beaver’. Yes, a promise of dam-building beavers is sure to raise the spirits of a nation beleaguered by Covid, fighting over petrol and stockpiling for Christmas.

The funny thing is, rewilding is quietly happening all around us.

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Scotland should become first rewilding nation  - Alison Johnstone

The Water of Leith is still recovering from the impact of the Industrial Revolution, but Mother Nature is winning the battle to take her habitat back.

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Only two weeks ago, my husband and I watched brilliant blue kingfishers dart about the banks.

We were lucky enough to see one dive and snatch a fish from the water, which I identified as a ‘baggy minnie’, a species I believe only found in Scottish waters. Baggy minnies are most certainly not minnows. That’s more of your “Beatrix Potter posh kid in the Lake District” kind of a fish.

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Yer minnie has evolved to be caught in a net on a pole, plopped into a clean, water-filled jam jar, peered at for a few minutes, then poured back into the river with no ill effects.

Pretty tough, yer baggie minnies, and the Water of Leith is now teeming with them. Well, one less, obviously, since the kingfisher’s dinner.

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Nature is rewilding by herself, if you look closely.

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