Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A helping hand and an owl box

Winter light, short days. The wood is in shadow by early afternoon. Farmer and visiting Nephew got one long awaited task done. The first of our two owls boxes is up. Telegraph pole, tractor, rope beach-combed from the shore, beautiful locally made owl box made to Barn Owl Trust design, drill, nuts and bolts, and a bit of luck. It is sited facing a southerly direction (being extremely heavy, it was quite difficult to manoeuvre into exactly correct position), near the Ensay Burn in the 3 hectare area fenced off to allow natural regeneration, back into native woodland.

And on his way back to the house at dusk, Farmer saw an owl sitting on the electricity line.

The birches beside the track from the Ensay Burn up to Treshnish are nearly bare now, very few leaves left on them now, but bright fresh ivy green curling round stout trunks, in the sunshine.

The hens have been enjoying the calm today. This moulting hen is the mother of 2 chicks, who seem to have suddenly doubled in size, but still have that mother dependent high pitched call, and keep close to her at all times. They are shy of the rest of the flock, and the last to come to the food.

Despite being November we had a busy week in the cottages last week. All but one had guests - either enjoying a few nights, or some here for the full week. There were even a few walkers going through the farm yard at times, and walking along the coast. It is also whelk picking time - there have been big tides and with those, and any section of accessible shore line is picked over by one or two regular locals who gather the whelks here every year - they are sold via various dealers on the island and end up in France or Spain for Christmas. It is back breaking hard work, and approaching Christmas the price goes up and it finally becomes more lucrative.

This next week Farmer is needing to gather the ewes. Already some of them are coming down from the hill, to cast their eye over the tups in the little turbine field above the Treshnish steading, standing near the fence, getting in line for the magic date when the ewes are sorted into groups and matched up with an unrelated tup. This is a good chance to mob graze some of the fields and clean up the grazing after the cows.

The owl box can be seen from the track between the main road and the bridge which marks the march between Treshnish Farm and Ensay Farm. It is ever so slightly not standing straight....but I shan't tell the Farmer that.

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