Friday, 2 February 2018

Storms and snakes

Yesterday was a moody stormy and very cold day, when even Coco didn't really want to move from her bed by the radiator in the kitchen.   The north-westerly winds were blowing straight into the front of the house, bitterly cold.  All sorts of weather blew through, it even tried to snow at one point.










Today a different sort of day.  No wind at all.  Warmth in the sun.  Birds singing.  Hooded crows tumbling in pairs as they fly.  It does feel as if everything is waking up.  

Still cold enough though to wear a winter coat when outside.  Farmer and I went up to Glac Gugaraidh this afternoon so that we could look at the possibility of doing some fencing up there, and where the fence line might go.  

As we were walking, I thought to myself, it would be too cold for Adders, surely they would still be hibernating. So I got the fright of my life when I suddenly spotted one all curled up a couple of feet away from where I was standing!  Yikes!





Later on in the afternoon Farmer noticed a large bird sitting very still on the knoll next to Duill lochan.  He came to get me and my long lens!  Unfortunately the lens wouldn't focus as it was quite dark.   So these 2 were hurriedly taken with my shorter lens!  All in a days work.  

And now I am sitting, it has just got dark, and a Tawny owl is hooting outside the office window.  


 


Saturday, 20 January 2018

Lifecycle


We thought we might get snowed in, and given that it is a quiet time of year, we were quite looking forward to it.  However, by morning, the snow had all but gone.



We have had a storm or two.. with snow showers and even some thunder and lightning.


Some wonderful clouds, I don't remember seeing any like this before.  The gulls were swirling around because the Herdwicks were being fed and they were hoping to clean up the crumbs.



Out and about, it has been so pretty.


A diffuse aurora between the clouds.


A very tragic event unfolded yesterday (Friday 19th January) as it was reported a whale was stranded in Calgary Bay.  I hadn't heard this but noticed it as I went to collect a friend from the bus.  We walked over and couldn't tell what it was or whether or not it was alive.  It was being buffeted about in the surf.


Later we found out it was a female Long finned Pilot Whale.  They usually live in family groups and even quite in large numbers.   Everyone is being asked to keep a look out for any pods locally - hoping very much there won't be a large stranding to follow this.

This morning, on my way to Salen, we could see she had been washed further up the beach and was lying on the sand.  I didn't want to be ghoulish, but she was so beautiful and so rare, and it seemed less caring somehow to not go across to her and pay our respects.


Life goes on in Nature, regardless of our sentiments - and you could see sandy footprints of gulls and other sea birds who had already begun to scavenge.  Just as you see holes in the sand where Oystercatchers have been dipping their beaks in search of food, there were pecks on her skin where whichever birds had done the same.  I was surprised to see blood.  I don't know why, but I suppose we see dead seals occasionally on this beach and I hadn't noticed the blood before.


The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust team were there, monitoring and planning how to protect the whale until they took samples for the necropsy.  We had to go but I understand she has now been covered in a tarpaulin, and staked down so that the tide does not carry her out to sea again - and the Council will be informed as she will be classified as toxic waste.  


What an undignified end to such a beautiful creature.


Overnight - between clouds - a faint Aurora. 


And today. Very cold. Very clear.  And very beautiful.


Looking south to Salen Pier and Lochaline on the Sound of Mull.


The farm in Glen Bellart.


Home this afternoon, and a walk to the top of the Chimney.  This does not require a ladder.  It is in a field near Treshnish Point, and has wonderful views all around.




It was so quiet.  We could hear the quad bike belonging to the man who does deer stalking on the farm.  We have to manage the deer population or there would be too many here for the size of the place - a bit like having too many sheep, it becomes over grazed and the deer end up undernourished.  Part of our problem is that our hill has got some good fertile areas, nice and green - a magnet for deer who clear the stock fences with ease!  

Farmer does not want to do the stalking himself so we have an arrangement with a professional shooter from Dervaig who comes to do this for us.  We can only let someone with the right certificates and qualifications do this, so that the animals are shot carefully and the carcasses treated correctly.  The venison is then sold via the island deer management group.


So Farmer was trying to see where the quad bike was and to see if he could see what JMacP was doing.  He could see lots of hinds but no humans!


The views from the Chimney are beautiful.   All the mountains we could see were covered in snow - on South Uist, Rum, Skye and as far as Torridon.




The sun set beautifully this afternoon - this was over the Haunn field looking towards Tiree.






Thursday, 11 January 2018

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