Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Friday, 6 August 2010

OK. I am trying to catch up!

Now on South Uist again - 6th August and a brilliant weather day. Strong easterly winds mixed with either drizzle or rain. Actually enjoyed the morning walk but before talking about that I'd better spend my time getting up to date.

So let's go back to :-

July 29th Had slept in the fabulous Oban Youth Hostel and had managed to get the Scottish breakfast in before catching the 8.15am ferry to Coll. A lot of terns in the Sound, together with groups of feeding kittiwakes and manx shearwaters; black guillemots near the shoreline at Craignure and then the highlight of this boat trip. A white-tailed sea eagle was sitting on a pine just north of craignure and as the boat passed, it took off and flew around for a while before landing again on the same tree. Fancied a bit of a stretch I suppose.

Duart castle, Mull

Read the newspaper for a while and pray that the Barcelona decision to ban bullfighting is reciprocated throughout the country and France and any other place where they think that teasing, stabbing and killing a bull is an entertaining sport with the matador as a hero. personally I abhor it and can't see matadors as anything other than cowards.

Anyway, off my soap box and back to birding from the ferry.

As the boat left the Sound of Mull, I went to the front of the boat just as a close storm petrel went past. can't count it on the year list as I'm on a motorised vehicle! [Good to see though]

A basking shark was also quite close and quite small too. Gannets, puffins, manx, razorbills and the occasional adult guillemot with a lone chick were also seen. Nearly all the guillemot chicks that I've seen have been alone with just one parent.

Met other birders, Ray and Jo from Portsmouth. Must have seen Jo before because she used to work at Durlston Country Park, near Swanage, doing marine work there. I used to live in Swanage and miss it and my friends there, terribly.

Arrived at Coll and the weather was still quite good; high cloud with lots of sunshine. Most unusual for my time in Scotland. The high street looked charming and the roads were empty. Brilliant.

Cycled to the RSPB reserve on the south west coast, seeing a ring-tailed hen harrier on the way and sat having a spot of lunch outside the visitors' centre. Met Ben the site manager whilst i was watching bumblebees in an area of ben's garden planted out with vetches and the like, put there specially for them and was just in time to join his weekly walk around the reserve.
Ben from Sedgley!
Good walk over the machair; Ben identifying flowers, red batsia, wild carrot, bllody cranesbill and eyebright etc, and talking about the structure of the area. Frog orchids shown and three new bumblebee species for me anyway - great yellow bumblebee - and it is 'great'. Massive and yellow; deserves the name. Also the moss carder with it's orangy thorax and the red-shanked carder bee with the 'comb' red instead of black on the more common red-tailed.

Tried to find Irish ladies tresses but instead almost saw a couple of young corncrake that disappeared as fast as they appeared in the grass in front of us.

Early evening chat with Ben. What a life he has. Autonomous on a beautiful reserve. Brilliant bloke.

Camped down by the beach and seawatched as the sun set developed. 7 basking sharks seen and a diver flew past, gannets and just a couple of manx shearwaters. Beautiful sunset.

From my position I could see Rhum clearly, with the Cullins on Skye poking through the gap, Barra and the Uists to the north west and tiree to the south west. Just to make it a perfect day, a large gibbous moon rose above the hills to the south east.

Thanks Ben - all the best. Brilliant day.

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