Friday, 30 June 2017

Cheeky Young

We can identify almost all the small birds that visit our various feeders but the young are sometimes more difficult. Very often, they're accompanied by mum or dad, which helps, but this character, who appeared on the sill just outside our conservatory while we were having lunch, was alone.

It looked thoroughly fed up. Perhaps that's why, even though it could easily see us through the glass - this picture was taken from a distance of about a foot - it wasn't prepared to move, and was really quite aggressive....

....when a blackbird approached - to the extent that it was the blackbird which flew off.

On the basis of its cheek and aggression, we're guessing that it's a young robin.

Apologies for the reflection of the cake tin in the last picture: it contained one of Mrs Diary's excellent fruit cakes.

Ardnamurchan Church Building Project

From Fiona Ogg:
An advert for a Project Manager to oversee the restoration of the church building has been placed on Rural Network Scotland -

To advise on what is required, beyond making the building wind and water tight, a Working Group is needed. Various consultations have taken place about future use of the building and there have been invitations to members to be involved in the process. The stage has now been reached when the Working Group is vital. If there is no Working Group then the future of the project, and the building, will be in doubt.

If anyone is interested in being part of the Working Group please get in touch, by July 14th, with Rev Fiona at

Thursday, 29 June 2017

A Favourite Place

These pictures come from Evelyn Ann Wilson who describes Ardnamurchan as 'my favourite place'. The first picture is of the bay by Mingary Pier with the Loch Tarbert at right and the Marine Harvest pontoon on the left, and Ben Hiant beyond.

Evelyn has been visiting Sanna several times a year for some time now and always enjoy her stay. She was there last week, when she took these pictures....

....which include this shot taken at evening.

Many thanks to Evelyn Ann for allowing the Diary to publish her pictures.

Strimming the Ormsaigbeg Road

A big 'thank you!' to the two Council workers who strimmed the verges along the Ormsaigbeg road on Tuesday. For those of us who are frequent walkers along this road, and who have to step off it to allow cars to pass, it's good now that we are able to see where we're treading.

Last year this service happened a bit late in the season but this year the timing is perfect, with the bracken well up and, therefore, unlikely to re-grow.

They cut back the vegetation which was beginning to bury our post box and....

....lopped off some of the branches on the shrubs at this corner which, until then, was almost blind and, therefore, hazardous to both pedestrians and vehicles.

Talking to them made us realise how thinly-stretched the Council's workforce now is. They can be working anywhere between Fort William, Kinlochleven, the Point of Ardnamurchan, and Mallaig. In view of this, we feel quite privileged to have such a timely job done on our road.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017


As well as taking superb wildlife photographs, Sue and Richard come to Ardnamurchan to enjoy and record its landscapes. Sadly, Ardnamurchan doesn't always co-operate. This was an all-too-frequent view when looking from Ardslignish across Loch Sunart to Morvern.

But, when the skies clear and the sun comes out the place is transformed. This format can't do justice to this picture, which looks down the wide glen of the Achateny Water to Eigg, Rum and the mountains of Skye.

Between Sanna and Portuairk the burn called the Sruthan Braigh nan Allt reaches the sea. This picture was taken from there looking across Sanna Bay to the isles.

The weather did behave itself well enough to provide Sue and Richard with at least one sunset photograph, taken from the north coast. The island in silhouette is Rum, and the low profile of Canna is visible to the left.

Many thanks to Sue and Richard for the photographs.


At this time of year the stags' antlers are growing in preparation for the rutting season. While this is happening, their antlers have a soft fur-like covering which carries the blood which enables the antlers to develop, and the stags are described as being 'in velvet'. The rate of growth is rapid, up to an inch a day.

This picture of a stag in velvet, silhouetted against the sunset, comes from Kilchoan Early Bird, to whom many thanks.

For an earlier Diary entry with more details of antler growth, click here.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Wind Surf

After spending the day anchored off Tobermory, the Wind Surf came up the Sound of Mull en route to Portree. Details of the ship are here.


This was last night's sunset - picture courtesy Kilchoan Early Bird

Ockle Wilderness

We walked upstream from Ockle yesterday, following the track above the burn until we had crossed the ford and then cutting up hill, southeastwards, into one of the largest areas of....

....wilderness on Ardnamurchan. It's open land with wide views, green with the coming of summer, a place where, in the many times we've walked it, we have never met another human, but home to....

....small herds of red deer hinds with their young.

The heath spotted orchids are everywhere along with tormentil, lousewort, cross-leaved heath and

....bell heather in full flower, often growing on the most exposed rocks, but what we hadn't expected to find, almost at the highest point, was....

....a lesser butterfly orchid. We searched to find more, putting up a red grouse in the process, but without success - which begs the question how this single flower managed to get here.

Just across the watershed is this lochan with its single island - another lochan un-named on the OS maps. Beyond it the land falls steeply away into....

....a wide glen through which the Allt Eas a Ghaidail, the burn of the Gael's waterfall, flows. At some point an attempt was made to drain the land on the other side of the burn. The straight ditches look as if they may have been part of Sir Alexander Murray's efforts to drain the local highlands in the 18th century.

The Allt Eas a Ghaidail is a beautiful, meandering burn which can be followed downstream along banks alive....

....with small frogs which escaped at our approach by making great jumps into the water.

It is also a great burn for dragon and damselflies. This golden ringed dragonfly allowed the closest of close-ups: when this picture was taken the lens must have been an inch from his ear.

Monday, 26 June 2017

New Shop Roof Finished

Many thanks to Richard O'Connor for sending this picture of the new box-profile roof on the shop with the comment, "Done!" Those working on the project have done extremely well, considering that they've had to contend with some heavy rain.

Thanks, too, to the Raptor who sends photographs of the cloud effects yesterday evening, this one looking across the Sound to Mull.

The Raptor writes, "I took these pictures on my 10pm walk with the dog and cat, this one of wonderful late evening sun burst to the west."

Camas nan Geall Otters

From Sue & Richard:
We were walking from Camas nan Geall towards Maclean’s Nose when we spotted an otter on some rocks in the water. We watched it for several minutes as it swam out, dived, caught its prey....

....and returned to feed, then had a good roll over on the seaweed-covered rocks before moving on.

We followed it, walking quickly along the coast whenever the otter dived, and remaining motionless as soon as it surfaced. We continued to the next headland where, in the next bay, there was a second otter. It seemed to be acting oddly, swimming quickly in to shore then moving rapidly in and out of the water and over the rocks.

Soon, the first otter arrived and it wasn’t long before they both surfaced, some distance apart, and gave each other a hard stare. After swimming around in a large circle they came in to the shore beneath us. With whistles and squeaks they warmly greeted each other, as if after a long separation. Then they began ‘romping’ around in the water and rocks at the shore’s edge.

This behaviour continued for some time before they swam off together and we eventually lost sight of them as they left the water and disappeared into the rocks further along the coast.

Many thanks to Sue & Richard for super pictures and story.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Summer Weather 2

The minute the earlier post was written, the sky began to clear and we enjoyed some beautiful late afternoon sunshine, so we took a walk up the back of Ormsaigbeg, finishing on Maol Bhuidhe where we stood for some time enjoying this view.

Summer Weather

Sometimes, Ardnamurchan's weather just has to be endured.

Achateny Beach

We headed for Achateny beach on Friday morning but left the car near where the road forks for Branault and Swordle, and walked towards it along the western slope of the wide glen formed by the Achateny Water to where....

....there are the remains of the big fank built while Achateny was a sheep farm following the clearance of its clachan. In the trees in the middle distance are the two houses associated with the farm, both now Ardnamurchan Estate letting houses, and the agricultural buildings of Ardnamurchan Estate's farming business.

The clachan of Achateny stood on the opposite side of the Achateny Water from the farm buildings; its site is marked with the arrow. For a clachan it was on the large size with, in 1737, a population of 55 grouped in ten families.

These are the remains of one of the clachan's houses. The houses are small, typically 6m x 4.5m, but each was home to a family which was cleared. I don't know the date of Achateny's clearance but the OS map of 1856 shows only the farm buildings.

Achateny beach is a white sand beach, a wide beach when the tide is out, and almost always deserted - though we were surprised yesterday to find one person already walking its sands.

That the beach is wide and a mixture of rock outcrops and sand made it ideal for a fish trap, and this wall, now almost covered by the shifting sand, is part of it. The trap is described on the Heritage Ardnamurchan website here. I would love to know how old it is.

For much of our time on the beach we sat and absorbed the stillness, the wash of the waves and the cry of the oystercatchers. We also saw sandpipers, mergansers, several types of gull, grey herons and, sadly, a mink.

Saturday, 24 June 2017


One of the useful features on the MarineTraffic app is the one that shows the forecast route for some, if not all ships. I used it this morning to see if the Vestvind, which is designed to carry large wind turbine parts, would be passing down the Sound of Mull.

As can be seen, she was, but she planned to take a short cut, which might have been quite exciting for people staying at Achateny and Fascadale, and for everyone in Kilchoan which was the point at which she would have re-launched herself.

Perhaps someone on the bridge noticed the error - this doesn't always happen - and corrected the waypoints or, as seems a little more likely, there was a glitch on the app. Anyway, in due course, she appeared off the Point of Ardnamurchan - this picture from Kilchoan Early Bird - and, in due course....

....turned into the Sound. She seen here being passed by the French cruise ship Soleal.

The Vestvind is on her way from Denmark to Belfast yet she chose to pass through the more confined waters of the Minches to the north of us, and then down the Sound of Mull, rather than to the west of the Inner Hebrides. There's more about her here.

Many thanks to Kilchoan Early Bird for the picture,
and to SJC for alerting me when she came into the Sound.

Friday, 23 June 2017


The cuckoos have been very active again this year, calling from the woodland along the top of the crofts and also from the open hillside above - but they're difficult birds to photograph.

However, this one stayed put while it was stalked, even though.... also had a small bird - at bottom right - scolding it.

We're fortunate that we still have cuckoos.  Their numbers have dropped drastically in the last 25 years for reasons which aren't understood.