Friday, 23 September 2011

In between the equinoctial showers

In between the showers, the wild and windy storms, we have had some lovely sunny moments this week. Farmer was grateful to the Contractors from Dervaig for coming to sort the last lambs and odds and sods for the next sale - on Tuesday in Oban. They put them through the fank and kept them to one side so that they are easy to round up for when James comes with his lorry on Monday. They are going to the market the afternoon beforehand and will be looked after by the Lairage Man overnight.

The weather brought torrents of rain one day and warm enough to eat outside days the next. Several of our guests felt enticed by the weather to swim in the sea this week. The camp site at Calgary has thinned out - in fact today when we went past, for the first time, it has been empty of tents or camper vans.

Clear peaty water running in the Treshnish burn. The heather is clinging on to its colour - just.

And brambles. What we are really missing is the vibrant red and orange of the rowan berry this year. Usually the rowan branches are bending with the weight of their berries but this year there are very few. We are about to order the beginning of the winter supply of bird food. The feeders will be an important life line this winter I fear.

We inherited these pink nerine lilies when we moved here in 1994. They are a welcome autumn colour in the vegetable garden.

Rosa Rugosa has flowered beautifully this summer, in Studio garden and in our vegetable garden. The huge hips are a valuable food source in autumn. The cows and calves have been in the Black Park for the last couple of weeks. There is plenty of grass for them. The scabious has been battered in the wind and the last few knapweed heads are clinging on, but most are over now. Sheep are allowed in to this field after the 30th of September.

We had a visit from someone last weekend who was surveying for signs of Marsh Fritillary. This is a key species in our management aims for the in-bye. He was not sure why, but said even though we have a huge amount of scabious, it seems that Marsh Frits favour some areas over others. What he looks for are their hibernation webs at the base of the scabious in clumps of grass. We were a little disappointed that he didn't find any, though he did explain numbers were low this year. He had been on the island for a few days and not found any sites that he didn't already know about.

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