Monday, 27 March 2017

Homecoming

Exciting things always seem to happen when one is away - like it's been a beautifully fine weekend, with the temperature soaring almost to 20C, and the Raptor has managed to see the first butterfly of 2017, a peacock which he had great difficulty in picturing.

On our way back along the peninsula we found the Hebridean Princess anchored in warm evening sunlight in Glenmore Bay against the backdrop of Ben Hiant. Her crew was busy ferrying her passengers ashore so they could....

....visit both the Ardnamurchan Distillery and the Glenmore Natural History Centre - though quite a few of them seemed to be concentrating their efforts on taking pictures of Highland cows.

As we came along the banks of Loch Mudle, where the year is still so young that few of the trees are showing any signs of coming in to leaf, we saw....

....a sea eagle wheeling high above its waters. It's the second time we've seen one in this area recently, which may add weight to the suggestion that a pair is nesting somewhere in the forestry on the loch's east bank.

The other side of Ben Hiant was in bright sunshine, this picture taken from near the big cattle sheds at Caim, with a small herd of red deer just visible in the lower ground at centre of the picture.

We arrived home to find the creel boat Atlantia, UL62, off Port na Clachan below our house, the Tobermory ferry, now the Loch Tarbert, on her way across the Sound, and....

....a very angry robin scolding us from the rowan by our gate, wanting to know why he hadn't been fed for the last three days.

Many thanks to the Raptor for his picture.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Deer in Silhouette

We feel very privileged that, when we take our walks across it, we share the wild landscape of western Ardnamurchan with these magnificent beasts. However, the red deer stags won't look quite so handsome as March progresses into April as this is the time when, with their testosterone levels falling, their antlers are shed.

This atmospheric picture of hinds against a leaden sky is courtesy Kilchoan Early Bird.

At this time of year the hinds are largely in groups separate from the stags. In a couple of months' time they'll be giving birth to a single calf after their eight-month gestation.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Ben Hiant's Southwest Shoulder - 2

The well-trodden route up Ben Hiant is from the B8007 a mile or so west of Camas nan Geall, but it doesn't offer the spectacular views found by approaching the ben from the west side.  The whole of the southern coast of the peninsula becomes more and more visible as one climbs....

....into increasingly open, grassy and rolling downland. On our walk on Wednesday - see earlier post here - we weren't aiming for the summit but, at 528m, it was an easy 150 metres above us. Instead, we were looking to cross the southwestern shoulder of the ben so....

....we could look eastwards, up Loch Sunart.

In the centre of this picture is the beautiful bay of Camas nan Geall, and below us a bowl of almost forgotten land which is visited by few.

This is a close-up of Camas nan Geall with, beyond it, the headland of Ardslignish. On the far side of the loch is the island of Oronsay and the entrance to Loch Teacuis, with the hills of Morvern beyond.

Looking south, the hill to the left is Stellachan Dubha, a twin-peaked feature visible from Kilchoan, and the headland on the other side of the loch is....

....Auliston Point on Morvern. The two bens along the horizon are Beinn Tallaidh to the left and Mull's highest point, Ben More to the right.

Many thanks to Sue and Richard for their company on the walk.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Pupils' Visit to St Comghan's Church

Many thanks to Kilchoan Primary School teacher Alison Munro for letting the Diary publish one of the photos she took during the recent visit of the school children to St Comghan's church - see post here. In it, a rather ancient enthusiast is trying to explain the excitement he finds in a stone wall, albeit an even more ancient 12th century wall, with mixed results.

The children were a credit to their school, polite, interested and, mostly, attentive. Alison says they enjoyed the afternoon and are now writing about what they learnt. I too had to do some writing. As a result of the day I was asked to make a few comments because I am now one of the school's 'partners'. I feel very honoured.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

A Busy Garden

We were a bit weary this morning after yesterday's long walk so spent the morning in the front garden weeding in the bright sunshine - and taking a few minutes off every now and again to snap the insects which were enjoying the flowers around us.

The aubretia is coming in to flower and is popular with the honey bees from the neighbouring Ardnamurchan Campsite as is....

....the flowering currant.

However, most of the bees are in the heather, along with two common lizards. Not that they are hunting the bees - one almost landed on this lizard's nose, and he brushed it off hurriedly - they're after....

....the various types of fly.

Someone needs to tell the lizards that the flies aren't that keen on the heather, that there are far more of them on the vibernum, not only the more common bluebottle type but also....

....some more exotic fly species.

While most of the bees are honey bees, we're also seeing many more bumblebees, like this one which was enjoying the berberis, one of the shrubs that's much less popular with the honey bees. This is one of our favourite shrubs as it does very well in our maritime climate, and puts on a spectacular show of vibrant colour in the early spring.

Look closely at the bumblebee. It seems very early in the year, but he's already ....

....heavily infested with mites.

It doesn't look very pleasant but the good news is that they're not feeding on the bee itself. Having wintered in the bee's nest, feeding on wax, pollen and other debris, at this time of year they're hitching a lift on their host. In due course they'll drop off onto one of the flowers the bee visits, and then grab hold of the next passing bee.