Monday, 6 May 2013

Mist and Dreech

Monday May 6

Iona was invisible as we ate breakfast and yes, it was raining. A lingering breakfast followed by a leisurely hour on the laptop before we ventured forth, books and newspaper ready.
Fidden first, the tide at its lowest. Flocks of Dunlin, Golden Plover and Ringed Plover wheeled restlessly around, landing on the seaweed thick, waterless sand between the rocks before rising and doing it all again.
I got out to digiscope, took one photo of the Goldens before they scattered wildly. 

Focused on the eyepiece I hadn't seen a Mountain Hare lollop through, pose upright for a few seconds before disappearing just as quickly. Lovely animals.

Turning towards the sea, I couldn't resist trying for the seals draped on distant rocks.

Two lovely older men from Brightlingsea, they'd driven up yesterday so it was their first day, stopped to read us their bird list and to ask for information  about Corncrakes and Eagles. They were so happy and pleased with what they'd seen so far. Many Whimbrel again, scattered amongst the sheep flocks.
Uisken once more, hoping for a drier spell so that we could walk on the beach. The moorland cows and their calves looked wet, dirty and rather miserable, poor beasts.
I read for half an hour before noticing that the rain on the windows was minimal. It was great to walk the beach, much of the white sand covered by huge swathes of thickly rotting seaweed uprooted and abandoned by the storms. There are outcrops of granite rocks to negotiate in addition to  streams running off the land All very interesting and enjoyable, much liked by shorebirds. A small flock of Turnstones, a group of 50 Dunlin and  4 Sanderling kept being disturbed by the half a dozen people and one dog also enjoying the fresh air.


Flock of Dunlin

We walked back along the grassy bank, adding a Yellowhammer, Sand Martins and two Twite to the list. Our first west coast Terns - 3 Common - fished along the shore before making their way onwards. Only a light and intermittent drizzle although visibility was very restricted.

Pam suggested going to the White-tailed Eagle nest for a final visit. 
En rote, around Loch Scridain, we saw 3 vehicles parked in a lay-by, scopes up and pointing.  A sure sign of.......Otters present.
Moving to the next lay-by where there was room, we saw three Otters on top of a rock in the middle of the loch. A mother and two cubs which were her equal in size. This is probably the worst - digiscoped - pic of Otters on the web.

We parked on the stony area pull-off from which the Eagle's nest is viewable, setting up scopes in time to see the male perched in the nesting tree. A short intermission whilst I phoned the AA, we had a puncture ! Luckily I got some reception. Back to the scope in time to see both birds fly off left. The female quickly returned to the nest, the male perched in a distant tree. The nest is a good half mile from the road,  I tried some digiscoping when the cloud rolled back sufficiently.

A couple staying at our B and B drew in behind us, they'd been on the RSPB trip this afternoon and had seen the remains of the lamb on the nest. We were able to show them the nest from the road and we all loved the stupendous views of the male flying right before crossing the glen overhead and flying a parallel course along the conifer belt,  where we had great views of him against a dark background.
We persuaded the couple that we would be fine when the man was pretty insistent that they would stay until the garage man arrived. We read in the car as it as raining again, finding that there was reasonable phone reception here - 2 bars - and a text from B who is on Ardnamurchan. She'd sent it yesterday but there's no reception in Phionnphort. Good to here that they're here safely if soggy !
The orange-clad as wide as he was tall, McDougall garageman arrived at 4.55, making short work of changing the wheel. He took the wheel away, we need to call in at the garage on the way to Dervaig to-morrow to see if it's fixable or if we need to buy a new one. 
No traffic on the road, it only took us 50 minutes to get back to our room.
Looking at the pictures I've posted to-day, I'm not proud of any of them. They're pretty mediocre. I wish I'd had the conditions o take better.

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