Tuesday, 30 June 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.  
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