Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Cowpat gardening

Walking through the field the cows were in about 2 weeks ago.  This lush ring of flora hides a cow pat. Talk about natural fertiliser!

A pale lilac Self heal.

A delight to see a Six spot burnet moth on a Fragrant orchid.

A tidal stack.

Looking back to the boathouse.

Everywhere we looked there were orchids. I think these are Common spotted..

Whatever they are, they are common here.

It is bliss being out there at sunset.

Back in May we found a minute flower which no one seemed to definitely ID. Farmer thought it was Wild Angelica.  It had been growing on the cliffs of the Point, only 2 inches tall.  This was a bit taller than that, but very similar.  We saw several of this size down there, as well as tall ones.

Eyebright picking up the light.

Harebell shaking in the sunset on the Black park turf dyke.

Monday, 20 July 2015

(We have) shorn the sheep

The 'milk clip' was done today.  A lot of nosy 'mothering up' going on in the field tonight. It must be very bewildering to the lambs to try and fin the woolly mum that went into the shed when all they can see are the tightly shorn mums that come out of the shed a few hours later. 

There is something almost beautiful about watching the calm and gentle way the ewes are shorn. Once they are in that squat sitting position they cannot move.

It is hard work, and the shearers work steadily and methodically all day.

The soft shearing boot, essential footwear for this job.

Farmer went to bed early tonight. Many early starts and a lot of physical work, not all of it back friendly.  Tomorrow he wants to go out to the hill and see if he can bring the 12 or so ewes in, that he knows got left behind in yesterday mornings early morning gather.  Once he has got them in, he can let the rest of the flock back to the hill.

Friday, 17 July 2015

A day to remember

I managed to fit in 4 wild flower wanders in one day, and each one was magical in a different way. 

Walk number one was arranged by the Ranger Service, with Rachel their seasonal ranger  taking the lead.  She brought books and ID charts, she talked about the Big Butterfly Count which Butterfly Conservation organise and which starts any day now, it only takes 15 minutes - why not have a go?

Lovely to have children with us this year, and the deep sward in the Coronation Meadow was a great hiding place. (making sure there were no orchids first of course).

Prasad had found Moonwort in the Toechtamhor garden on a bank which is normally strimmed!  This is a first record for Treshnish, so a great find. 

There may not have been as many Greater Butterfly orchids this year, but some of them were enormous!  Walk number two was enchanted, with Fife based artist and poet. We found a huge patch of Marsh Lousewort in the Black Park. 

The Slender St John's wort is flowering. 

So is the Wood sage.

We stood on the edge of the field by the house, looking over the field below where the cows have been. 

Walk number 3 was the family dog walk in the late afternoon.  The cows have been in this field for nearly 2 weeks, and it was really interesting to see that there were still dozens of flowers.  They do not target them, in the way that the sheep do.

They have had access to the Graveyard field, and there were literally hundreds of Common spotted orchids.  An amazing sight. 

Walk number 4 was in the evening.  We walked through and around the neighbours fields looking back into the Haunn field/Coronation Meadow.  It was pure magic. 

A glorious end to a stunning day.  I feel so blessed. 

However... the day didnt end there, but I will save that for another blog post.  (and link back to it).

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.  
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