Sunday, 13 June 2010

Fledglings, the corncrake, orchids, pignut and lambs

I saw it!! Down at Haunn, by the gate into the gardens, near East. I haven't been walking in that direction with the dogs because I hadn't wanted to disturb the corncrakes and other ground nesting birds, but it was such a beautiful morning and I wanted to photograph the burnet rose in Black Park.

So I walked one of the dogs (on a lead!) this morning, approaching the cottages, skylarks soaring and singing above my head, I heard a very loud crek-crek coming from the bank just outside the garden fence. Sat down beside the track, in the sun, waited 5 minutes before it called again and popped its head out of the long grasses and irises. My first corncrake!

We seem to have it pretty well organised now - a sociable corncrake at Haunn and a noisy one at Treshnish, so guests in either location have a good chance of seeing or hearing them!

The sparrow fledglings have been learning about fast food on the bird table in the farm house garden. Their fluffy chests puffed out make them look twice the size of the exhausted parents. We are getting through huge amounts of bird food and fat balls, trying to keep up with demand.

Farmer got all the lambs marked and was pleased with the results - more lambs from less ewes than in the last couple of years, so that is as good as it can be at this stage! The next hurdle is the price, of which we have little control if we end up going to market again. Good prices seem to depend on whether or not the dealers turn up in good moods! With transportation to Oban being a major additional cost to island farmers, we are not likely to bring them home again if we don't like the price we are offered. One of the advantages of being organic (we no longer are) was that we did the deal with the organic finisher before the lambs left home. We will try and do the same with a non organic finisher this year and avoid the uncertainty of the market ring altogether.

The herbs and salad leaves are flourishing in the polytunnel.

And outside, on the side of the track towards Haunn, there is a bank, now fenced off from stock, with an abundance of common orchid, pignut and bluebell. On the other side of the fence there is a marked difference!

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