Wednesday, 1 July 2015

#30DaysWild - day 30

#30DaysWild - day 30.   Celebrating both Day 30 of the #30DaysWild challenge and the end of June on Vatersay this afternoon, with the sound of the Corncrake... finally the wonderful sound of the Corncrake on the machair and around the Vatersay township. 






















The day has been brightly overcast and not as windy as yesterday.  Patches of blue sky gave us hope that the weather might improve.  It didn’t rain so I suppose it did.  

Vatersay is reached by a causeway from Barra, which replaced a small open ferry - it must have made a huge difference to the community when it was built.  There are a few houses at the Vatersay side of the causeway and they all look pretty windblown.  The causeway provides boat shelter for island fishing boats -  and on the shore side, towering piles of creels, fishboxes and coiled masses of rope.  

The beaches on Vatersay are beautiful - there are two curving white beaches back to back with a colourful machair in between, forming an isthmus which you cross to get the township.  I was looking forward to seeing the machair, as the Barra machair was looking so colourful and at Vatersay it is usually beautiful too.  I have found dozens of Frog orchids there and swathes of Meadow rue in past summers.  The first surprise as we arrived was to find the island cattle grazing the machair.  In previous years we have never seen the cattle grazing here, they are usually out to the west. With the cold spring though, perhaps they are still very short of grass.  The machair was looking beautiful, full of buttercups and daisies, and colourful cows and their calves.  I couldn’t find any Frog orchids, and the primroses had only just gone over, their leaves still looking quite healthy.  The lady’s bedstraw was just coming in to flower, and my eyes itches from the patches of white clover in the dunes.


Vatersay has some tragic and difficult stories in its history and on the hill above the township you can see the ruin of Vatersay House which was owned by the family who treated the crofters and cottars particularly badly.   The ruined house will never be lived in again.  The land is sandy and fertile and the island crofters have an impressive number of cattle, far more than you might expect, and each one contributing to the amazing flowers!   Beyond the township towards the south beach, there are several fields of crops, grown for winter feed to help provide shelter for the Corncrake - and it obviously works as we could hear their distinctive call.  I will explore the fields another day.  


Today it was enough to listen to the Corncrake calling, to watch bumble bees buzzing on White clover, and to enjoy the smell of the sea, and the dunes full of Kidney vetch, White clover and Birds foot trefoil. 


Thank you to the Wildlife Trusts for the challenge, I have really enjoyed it.  I don’t know if I can cope with the idea of writing up a #366DaysWild blog, but I will keep looking and listening and enjoying the wild.  Tonight, we see seals in the bay in front of the cottage, and as it gets dark I can hear them calling. The wind has stilled, and the sea is mirror calm.  

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

#30DaysWild - day 29

#30DaysWild - day 29. The 29th day of June, and the month of daily wild blogging is nearly at an end, only today and tomorrow’s to go.   

Walking near the cottage we are renting is always lovely, whatever the weather, and this morning I was looking at what makes it all so yellow - for yellow it is, a gentle breezy delicate yellow hovering above the grasses.  Tormentil, Marsh marigold, Flag iris, Buttercup, Birds Foot Trefoil.  There are occasional Northern marsh orchids, but not a single Fragrant orchid yet, and no sign of the Six spot burnet moth, no sound of the Corncrake either.  

We walked up at Eoligarry in the afternoon under a cloud of light rain.  2 seals watched us progress up the beach, a trio of female Eider duck did the same.  We usually watch terns here, but there were no sign of them today, nor any Gannets within easy visibility.   A solitary Shag flies one way and then the other.  A gull drops down to the surface of the water.  I hate to keep comparing to last year, and years before that, but Eoligarry is usually noisy with Corncrakes and we didn’t hear any today, I hope that was just because of the wind and that we will hear them on a calmer day. 
















Monday, 29 June 2015

#30DaysWild - day 28

Day 28.

Photographs for now, words to follow.












#30DaysWild - day 27

#30DayWild - day 27

We spend our daily lives looking at the sea. Today we looked at land from the sea.  Crossing to the Isle of Barra from Oban.  

The Sound of Mull a watery corridor between the Morvern peninsular and the east coast of Mull, the Green islands off Salen.  Seeing the familiar in a different way.  Hidden Tobermory, masts of yachts at anchor or on moorings in the bay like spines of a porcupine.  

As the ferry inches out past the Isle of Coll, with binoculars we could see the recognisable shape of our headland home.  I often see the Barra ferry disappearing beyond Coll from Treshnish.  The distinctive shape of the Point and the Haunn flats as we call the raised beaches beyond Haunn.  Patches of yellow where the meadows are and the white dots of the cottages.

I had planned to sea watch from the ferry, but the sweep in the Minch put paid to that! 

Razorbills, wild rooves, seascapes and cloud.    








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