I'm not quite back from my travels yet (although I'll be darkening your doors very shortly), so apologies for being a couple of days late with the intriguing result of the Tain & Easter Ross by-election...
Independent - Rhind 49.4% (+33.1)
SNP 23.9% (n/c)
Liberal Democrats 14.5% (-5.0)
Conservatives 9.1% (-6.9)
Independent - Holdsworth 2.7% (n/a)
Scottish Libertarians 0.5% (n/a)
Obviously the main story here is an outstanding personal triumph for Mr Rhind, who returns to Highland Council after losing his seat only a few months ago. But I think it's fair to say this is also a very solid result for the SNP, who simply by standing their ground enjoy a 2.5% net swing from the Liberal Democrats, and a 3.5% net swing from the Tories. Unlike in the by-elections at the start of September, the good news for the SNP in the Panelbase opinion poll hasn't been contradicted in any way - although the obvious health warning is that there was no Labour candidate, and Tain & Easter Ross isn't the sort of ward that could tell us anything about the Labour v SNP battle in any case.
Technically Mr Rhind has gained his seat from the Liberal Democrats - the vacancy was caused by Jamie Stone standing down from the council to concentrate on his work as an MP. (Highland Council's gain is Westminster's loss, etc, etc.) However, that's just another of the meaningless quirks of STV by-elections - the Lib Dems finished third in the ward in May, and have done so again this time. One fewer Lib Dem councillor in the world can't be a bad thing, of course.
Note: The normally reliable Britain Elects account on Twitter reported completely inaccurate percentage changes for this by-election. The changes I've listed above are the correct ones.