Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Friday, 6 August 2010

30th July Coll

Awoke early and seawatched from the tent. It had rained overnight but was now dry with a fresh [!] southerly blowing. A very close great skua was the only bird of note; very little otherwise.

Cycled to the standing stones near the RSPB visitors' centre and then the crannog at Loch Cliad. The weather had deteriorated by now to strong southerly with drizzly rain. Added to the atmosphere of the crannog though. Interesting to see a couple of these ancient homestead structures.

From the road to the pier, before the rain set in, the views across to the Trishnish Isles, Staffa, Mull and Iona had been beautiful.

Spent the afternoon in the library in Oban and then camped about two miles north of the city after visiting the Catholic cathedral.

31st July 2010

The night was punctuated by either a tawny owl that decided to hoot, squeek and make other noises and heavy rain. A bull somewhere decided to join in.

Got up at 5.00am and cycled to Oban. Photographed a group of black guillemot on the sea wall and caught the 8.15am ferry to South Uist.
Bird list from the ferry:-

5 shag
84 gannet
4 great skua
9 black guillemot
23 manx shearwater
27 razorbill
15 kittiwake
25 guillemot
2 commic terns
2 arctic terns
53 fulmar
14 storm petrels
22 puffins
 Also 16 basking sharks,
2 grey Atlantic seals and a sunfish.

Cycled to Howmore in pleasant sunshine but with a strong westerly. I wonder how many calm days these islands have?

Lots of common darters on the white markings on the road, a few moss carder bumblebees and a single great yellow. Also some suicidal emperor moth caterpillars with frourescent blood where they's been squished.
Is this a common or Highland?
Arrived at the beautiful Howmore Youth Hostel, one of my favourites, watched a ring-tail hen harrier and a couple of snipe drumming before walking down the beach. Now I'd been here before in April, 2005 when Ian Crutchley and Steve Alcott, ex-pupils from my time as a Secondary Science teacher in Wolverhampton, came here to look at a remarkable 12 white-winged gulls together with 3 ring-billed. Now there were sanderling, dunlin, ringed plover, gulls and seven ravens but what a wonderful beach.

Time for sleep in my bunk bed ...

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