The Birds and the Bees

The weather has come from the north and the east this week, making for some very cool days. It has also been windy, and given the chill factor, it has felt like a return to winter.

Looking out of the kitchen window there is a smorgasbord of wildlife. There were 3 families of Greylag Geese. They swim effortlessly and serenely across the sea loch, the adults fore and aft with the goslings swimming in between. One family had 6, one 5 and the other 3 chicks respectively. Perfect families. We have spotted a Sea eagle on three occasions flying across the loch. Their size never fails to amaze and they have a languid way of flying close to the water’s surface creating consternation in the nearby animal and bird populations. On a good sunny day at low tide there are a harem of seals that pivot on the rocks – a canny sight indeed. Curlews and oystercatchers are also a common site – as are the many different species of ducks and sea gulls.

On our wonderings, we have noticed an abundance of hairy caterpillars which we have learned, are the Cuckoos favourite food. These birds have a bad reputation because of their questionable parenting skills – nature is enigmatic as always.

The light here is omnipresent – 16.31 hours of daylight that begins at around 5am. Nicola and I have on occasions woken to watch the panoramic chocolate box, pink and gold coloured display – it is at moments like this that hymns sung in school assembly resonate through the years. At other times, I have needed to wear an eye mask in order to stay asleep until 7am.

There are fields of daisies, yellow primroses and on the rocks, sea pinks. New varieties of wild flowers appear daily. There are little baby lambs prancing around with their mothers – like something from a Holman-Hunt painting. We have been foraging for nettles and have made nettle soup and pesto. The peat grown nettles have proven to be exceptionally tasty.

Thursday night we made our way to the Community Centre where the Screen Machine (an award-winning community enterprise showing contemporary films) was parked outside. It comprises a large articulated truck that converts Tardis-like into an excellent small cinema. We watched ‘The White Crow’ a pleasant enough film, dancing the night away and ensuring that the evening was an excellent experience. Everybody knows everybody here making for a convivial event.

Sunday, we planned to picnic on the beach. We had decided that whatever the weather we would go. As it happened, the wind shifted from the east to the south and dropped. The sun shone and it was a beautiful day. We met up with friends and drove off with them to Clachan beach. This is a wonderful beach with white sand that stretches into the distance with the hills of Harris in the background. We picked a great spot down in a natural amphitheatre by the rocks and we spread out the rugs in anticipation. Everyone made a great effort. We had masses of food including roast chicken, salmon, we even lit a barbecue and had scallops wrapped in bacon and sausages. After eating and to the amusement of everyone Nicola and I donned our wet suits. This sounds easy but it is not. We then had something of a swim. This was a lovely afternoon and the pink Cava helped make it a dreamy memorable one.

Nicola successfully finished her teaching at the University this week. I dutifully made a half-hearted attempt to fish – hopefully the increasing fly life over the next few weeks will stir the fish into surfacing for food …

Angelo, our white cat, is as excellent as ever at catching the rats (4 this week). He presents them proudly at the back door, and soaks up the admiration offered to him. This week he discovered valerian tea and this is one substance he longs to abuse. He is also very keen on catnip and even ‘deep heat’ so feline mysteries ever abound…

One thought on “The Birds and the Bees

  1. Great stuff John – keep them coming.

    A shot of the sea eagle would be good. I spent a fruitless couple of hours at Glenelg a few years ago, scanning the inlet for a sighting of either of the pair nesting locally. A local assured me a sighting was ‘inevitable’.

    Disappointingly, it wasn’t.

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