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Hebridean journal

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Thanks to GBE

Many thanks to mine host, without whom this journal and the wonderful holiday it celebrates, would not have been possible. C J E

Posted by tigh-na-mara at 12:01 AM BST
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Saturday 16th June 2007

We left the rainy hotel and picked up David before heading South – with the aim of dropping me off in Pensby and GB and David going on to France....

At first the views of the last fortnight were just a memory as we stared into the mist and rain.

But as we reached Beattock it began to clear a little.

We stopped at Annandale Water for coffee and in the car park I said goodbye to my last Scottish style post box until my next trip North whenever that may be.

A selection of opportunists were taking advantage of the litter that humans create, including this Black-headed Gull in his smartest breeding plumage.

With David at the wheel we headed over the border.

And over Shap... to home, in time for lunch.

Posted by tigh-na-mara at 12:01 AM BST
Updated: Saturday, 23 June 2007 3:20 PM BST
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Friday, 15 June 2007

Friday 15th June 2007

It is Friday morning. I cannot believe the holiday has gone so quickly but the Night Rider is packed and we are off to get the early ferry.

The MV Isle of Lewis is ready for us.

Despite being the last car to arrive – with perfect timing – we are the second car to go on board.

Once we had got a table in the dining room I headed on deck to photograph the castle grounds.

And part of Stornoway.

Before turning my attention the Razorbills in the outer harbour.

Terns were diving for fish not too far away.

We were ten minutes late leaving which gave me plenty of chance to take pictures.

The Captain welcomed us aboard and announced it would be Force 5 or 6 on the crossing.

By 7.30 a.m. we were on our way.

The safety instructions were, as usual, ignored by the passengers.

We passed more Razorbills.

This was by the passenger lounge. Shouldn’t it have been on the bridge where the Captain could see it?

We passed Arnish Lighthouse and headed out towards the Minch.

Arnish Light came into being in 1852, earning its place in the Northern Lighthouse Board's history as their first ever prefabricated tower. The facility at Arnish was also unique in another way. For some time, the Stevensons had been working on an 'apparent light', a new method of lighting pierheads and sunken rocks. At that time, many hazards were marked by beacons which were, in effect, seamarks with neither warning light nor sound. The Stevensons had discovered that glass prisms placed in the beacon and lit by a beam projected from a neighbouring shore, would produce a light that appeared to emit from the beacon itself. This new idea was tried out on the rock shelf off Arnish Point and was thus described by the Stornoway fishermen: '... The deception is so perfect that we cannot believe a light is not there'. The beacon was first 'lit' when the main Arnish light was shown in 1852 and remained in use for fifty years.

A sad time as Stornoway got further and further away.

We passed Bayble Island whose true configuration – that of two islands – can be seen from this seaward side.

And the top end of Upper Bayble can just be seen before the ferry swings out and away from Lewis.

A freezing cold and windy deck does not deter a piper from practising.

The mainland is already in view.

Built in 1995 the MV Isle of Lewis has a service speed of 18 knots.

And the mainland soon gets nearer.

One day I must identify all these peaks.

As it approaches the mainland the ferry passes the Summer Isles. Just hidden from view around this headland is Garadheancal – a largely seasonal settlement on Tanera Mor, the largest of the Summer Isles. It lies just south of The Anchorage, close to the island’s pier.

Tanera Mor is the only Scottish offshore island to operate the regular, year-round private postal service. At least three times per week, sea conditions permitting, MV. Patricia crosses the sound of Badenterbet carrying mail for onward transmission by the mainland post office at Achiltibuie; the boat returns carrying postal items for island distribution. The Summer Isles pedigree as fully fledged postal authority began on the first of December 1970 by arrangement with the Royal Mail when a definitive set of six values ( 1d to 2/6d ) was issued. With decimalisation the stamps were reissued in 1971 and 1977 bearing new values overprinted. All these are now scarce and eagerly sought by collectors worldwide.

In Loch Broom, approaching Ullapool.

Second off the ferry...

Into Ullapool

And out onto the tree-covered mainland.

We stopped at the Falls of Rogie and GB tested out his dodgy knee.

The ferns, mosses and lichens were at their best in the dappled sunshine of the woods.

The Falls were quite impressive even though there is not much water in the rivers and reservoirs at the moment. On the way back to the car park we paused to watch the birds and GB came face to face with a Bullfinch whilst we both saw Long-tailed tits in the trees. Further on our way, approaching Inverness, I got an excellent view of a Hen Harrier.

After coffee at the climbing shop in Inverness we headed down the A9 through Speyside and the Cairngorms.

This is Ruthven Barracks. It was built in 1721 when the government decided to tighten its grip on the Highlands after the Jacobite rising of 1715. It was built on the site of earlier castles and was designed to house 120 troops.

In 1745 some 200 Jacobites tried to capture it but were held off by just 12 redcoats so well was the barracks designed. In 1746 an even larger force of Jacobites attacked it, this time with artillery and they were successful as the garrison surrendered. On the day after Culloden 3000 Jacobites assembled here only to receive a message from Bonnie Prince Charlie saying each man should save himself as best he could. They fired the barracks and dispersed only to be savagely hunted down by the government troops.

All the way down the A9 there were large patches of Gorse which were in full bloom.

We had a bite to eat at the House of Bruar and then drove down the old A9 into Blair Atholl where the bookshop claimed our attention for a while.

Blair Atholl is very obviously an estate village for the nearby Blair Castle, ancient seat of the Earls of Atholl. The Castle was besieged by Cromwell’s army in 1652 (the relevance of which comment will be apparent in a moment or two...).

After the Pass of Killiecrankie we rejoined the new A9 and drove down to the Firth of Forth where we met our first rain of the day. Most of England had been having horrendous floods while we drove through the sunshine.

Unfortunately the railings of the road bridge block out any decent view of the railway bridge.

Presumably the lorry ahead of us on the Forth Road Bridge was just returning with spoils from Blair Castle!

And so to Edinburgh for the night. We spent the evening in Stockbridge Village – a delightful area – and I was pleased to see that the streets are not sprayed with weed-killer as they seem to be everywhere else in the country. As a result old-fashioned weeds like Oxford Ragwort and Shepherd’s Purse were evident along the cracks in the pavement.

Posted by tigh-na-mara at 12:01 AM BST
Updated: Saturday, 23 June 2007 10:59 AM BST
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Thursday, 14 June 2007

Thursday 14th June 2007

After another night of poor sleep rewarded by wonderful skies the sun gradually began to peep over Upper Bayble at 4.31 a.m.

Half an hour later it had still to work its way through the clouds but the effect was magnificent. Fortunate are they who live with views like this.

And by 6.15 a.m. the prospect of another sunny day was evident.

By 9.50 a.m. the mountains of the mainland were as clear as they had been all fortnight.

The peninsula of Point is separated from Stornoway by the Braigh, a narrow strip of land running between Broad bay on the right and Loch Braigh na h-Aoidhe on the left.

This is looking from the Braigh across to the mainland on the left, the Shiant Islands in the middle and South Lewis on the right.

This is the Lewis War Memorial to the dead of Two World Wars, so situated as to be seen from all the parishes from which they came.

We called at the Ferry Terminal to get my ticket for tomorrow and while there I photographed the wooden model of a Lewis chess piece.

Then it was once more back across the Braigh.

But then GB took a diversion and we had a look at Broad Bay from Aignish. In the distance can be seen Tolsta Head.

And across the Bay in this photo can be seen the highest point of North Lewis – sorry GB , I’ve forgotten its name.... Please e-mail ‘Forgettenitall@beenthere/’.

We then crossed over the main road to the Swordale side from whence the mountains of Harris could be clearly seen.

Would you let your child moon at a tourist like that?

Again we can see the mainland, the Shiant Isles, and South Lewis.

On a day like today the mainland doesn’t seem so far away from Tigh na mara.

After another lovely day the sun finally disappeared at 10.25 p.m., leaving a clear sky and the promise of another fine day for the island.

But there was still enough light for a final view of the bay before our departure on the early ferry tomorrow.

At 10.45 – just as I was heading for bed – GB called me out to the garden again to see Mr Tiggywinkle. Sadly the Hedgehog is not such a romantic character as he may seem, and certainly not a boon to the island. It was imported fairly recently by man. spread like mad and is damaging the native wildlife – particularly by taking the eggs of nesting birds.

There are, in fact, only two definitely native land mammals in the whole of the Western Isles, red deer and otter. The rabbit, blue hare, hedgehog, brown rat, black rat, feral cat, polecat and American mink were all introduced by man. (The origins of voles and mice are uncertain.) There are claims that the Stornoway castle grounds are home to bats. In addition, there are farmed animals such as sheep, cattle and a few pigs.

The decision by Scottish Natural Heritage to cull the hedgehogs on Uist has caused a furious reaction across the world. SNH claims there is no alternative because the hedgehogs are eating the eggs and the young of rare wading-bird populations, but critics say that they could have been relocated to the mainland. Charities have stepped in to rescue the hedgehogs, and a campaign called Operation Tiggywinkle has offered islanders £5 for each hedgehog they hand in. So far, the cull has not been a huge success. SNH officials have managed to kill only about 30 hedgehogs.

Night night!

Posted by tigh-na-mara at 12:01 AM BST
Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007 3:45 AM BST
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Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Wednesday 13th June 2007

One advantage of sleeping badly is that you see sights other folk are not fortunate enough to view. This is 2.40 a.m.

And 3.40 a.m.

And 5.15 a.m.

And now it is 5.40 a.m.

And a more reasonable hour – 6.40 a.m.

And the time of day that many people would at last think sensible – 10.15 a.m. One of the things that seems to grow particularly well on the island is the fence post.

This morning’s coffee was at The Woodlands Centre.

And we added a Blue Tit to our list of birds seen so far this holiday.

We went out on the Liurbost road, passing Jo’s favourite little island in the process.

We went alongside Loch Leurbost in the hazy sunshine.

And then over the hill to Ranish where the skies cleared completely and the sea became the deepest blue.

Around here even the most decrepit and abandoned buildings can have an air of romance.

King of the road.

In fact, they are everywhere!

Why do the windmills so rarely turn? At least today there was one turning.

And back to Stornoway where a scraggy looking Herring Gull was still guarding the boats.

Having bought a copy of Peter Cunningham’s book ‘The Castle Grounds’ I was anxious to explore them further so GB dropped me off there and he went home to work for a few hours, picking me up later in the day. I made a start by going along the Willowglen Trail. There are many fine trees in the grounds including this stand of Douglas and Grand Firs.

And stately Lawson’s Cypress bearing no resemblance to the stunted and mangled things we use as hedging in urban areas on the mainland.

An unusual shrub alongside the path was Leycesteria formosa, sometimes known as Himalayan Honeysuckle.

Throughout the woods there are ferns galore including the attractive Hard Fern which has two sorts of frond – the wider sterile ones shown above and the narrow fertile ones below.

Another unusual shrub was the Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) with its orange berries.

After spending some time in the woods the path winds put onto the golf course with a view over Stornoway and Broadbay.

The path re-enters the woods and goes alongside the nursery and Lews Castle College and before reaching the castle itself there is a fine example of a Sugar Maple.

Because of its dangerous structural state the Castle itself is deserted and boarded up but there are plans afoot to renovate and re-open it.

I walked round the edge of the outer harbour for a while.

I wouldn’t like to get on the wrong side of that beak.

And then made my way to the inner harbour and back into the woods.

Near the entrance I came across a Jackdaw ballet.

I was due to meet GB at the Porter’s Lodge at 5.30 pm and in true Edwards fashion he was there within 30 seconds of the appointed time.

Going back across the Braighe the waters were an almost unbelievable blue. Bayble Bay (with Tigh na mara on the right) was equally stunning.

And so, at 10.50 pm as the light finally began to fade, I headed for bed...

Posted by tigh-na-mara at 12:01 AM BST
Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007 3:53 AM BST
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Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Tuesday 12th June 2007

At 4.30 this morning the mainland was visible across the Minch – not that sensible people were aware of the fact!

We had coffee in An Lanntair.

From the window I photographed one of the sculptures that can now be seen around Stornoway.

On the way back to the car I came across a second winter Herring Gull on the edge of the dock.

Coming out of Stornoway back to Tigh na mara GB took me to see the Iolaire monument.

One of the local inhabitants. I wonder what it thinks of the new sewage plant!

We stopped on the Braighe and I photographed the coastguard and the ferry.

The afternoon was cold and showery but I did not let that stop me from spending it on the shore below Tigh na mara.

On the cliffs I came across a Painted Lady sheltering from the buffeting winds.

The waves were bashing into the rocks and the sound was wonderful. I could have stayed there listening to the crashing roar for ever.

I must have spent a couple of hours photographing the waves and the pebbles on the shore, totally oblivious to the rest of the world.

As on my last trip down to the shore here there were Wrens galore – both young and adult.

The sky darkened and the waves continued to crash onto the rocks.

If there is one flowering plant for which the island should be noted it is Thrift. Whether it is covering the machair or an individual plant on a cliff face it is a beautiful flower.

Posted by tigh-na-mara at 12:01 AM BST
Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007 3:36 AM BST
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Monday, 11 June 2007

Monday 11th June 2007

Having spent a brief spell below the horizon the sun was well up again at 4.55 a.m.

The combination of blue sky and rising sun has been magnificent this last week and today was no exception. (All the photos on this site have been taken without filters and are as the sky appeared.)

The mainland was not visible at 8 a.m. but the clouds which blocked it out were worth photographing in their own right.

After breakfast we set off for a day around Harris whose mountains can be seen in the distance from near Bayble. As we drove down the main Stornoway to Tarbert road we passed through Balallan, the longest village (4 miles measured from end to end) in Lewis (and also in northern Scotland). Straggled along the head of a long sea loch between Arivruach and Laxay, it developed due to a mixture of crofting along the loch shore and fishing. It sits at the head of Loch Erisort.

Those on the loch side were each given direct access to the loch for their boats as well as access to the moorland behind for their sheep. They also attended to their croft, given relative shelter from the elements by the high ground to the west.

Just south of the village there is a cairn that stands as a memorial to the Deer Park Raiders. It is one of three Land Struggle Cairns to have been commissioned on the Isle of Lewis.

It doesn’t matter whereabouts on Lewis or Harris you may be there are always signs of the depopulation that has occurred over the years. The remains of crofthouses sprinkle the whole island and whilst they may have a certain romantic beauty to the artist’s eye they are really a testimony to the hardship endured by this community for centuries.

There is no clue on the road as to when one is leaving Lewis and arriving on Harris but gradually the mountainous scenery confirms one has done so. In this border country there are plantations, some which, like those near Garynahine, suffered the ravages of the Pine Beauty moth some years ago.

We then came to Loch Seaforth – one of Dad’s favourite areas on the island. The skyline here is filled by the mountains of Harris with Clisham, 2622 feet (or 799m for those younger than I), the predominant feature.

Looking back towards Lewis from the climb up from Loch Seaforth.

Clisham, the highest peak in the Western Isles.

At West Loch Tarbert - one has to ask is the car’s speed really relevant in these circumstances!!!

Tarbert is the main township of Harris and the port for the ferry from Skye.

I just love picturesque little scenes like this with a boat in them. Strange really, since I have a phobia about water!

We travelled down the East side of Harris, admiring the hundreds of offshore islands.....

...and the thousands of little lochans.

As we drove along I was fooled for a moment by what I thought was an otter.

Sadly it turned out only to be a Hoodie – the grey of its back merging into the grey of the water and giving it an outline not normally associated with a bird.

However, GB stopped the car and the spot gave us sightings of Greenshank (above) , Whimbrel and Redshank so the experience was not all wasted.

The Redshanks kicked up a great fuss and circled around overhead, alternately landing on the top of a tree and the summit of a little hill nearby.

Throughout our trip down the East coast the call of Cuckoos was constant and on a few occasions we saw them sitting on the telegraph wires, often with a small bird beside them. Since they were cuckooing adults on the wire they were obviously not youngsters being fed by the smaller bird – was it trying to discomfort them and make them move away from their nest site?

At Leverburgh the ferry was just leaving for Berneray and we watched it depart as we had coffee in the cafe.

Between Northton and Scarista on our way back up the West side of Harris we saw lots of Oystercatchers in the loch.

In passing I took a shot or two of the standing stone at Scarista. This fine 6 ft tall slab has two fallen stones close by, one of which may have formed an alignment with it.

Nisabost beach (Traigh Iar) and the Macleod standing stone.

We paused to photograph the Macleod Stone, an impressive monolith 10 ft 6 inches high, perched on a hilltop looking out over to Taransay, the island made famous by the BBC's Survivor programme. It has been suggested that this stone was erected by prehistoric man as part of a calendrical system: at the equinoxes the sun sets exactly due west over St Kilda, as seen from the stone.

At Luskentyre the machair was covered in Thrift.

And the tide was in. I always find it hard to believe how many miles of sand are exposed at low tide, so gradual is the slope of Luskentyre beach.

Among the flowers hereabouts were Ragged Robin and Wild thyme.

From the hill above Luskentyre it is even harder to believe that all that area, almost out to Taransay in the background, is sand at low tide.

There are places on Harris that look more like a moonscape than a British landscape.

Heading back home from Tarbert, looking towards the whaling station on West Loch Tarbert and the mountains of North Harris.

Another view to conclude our trip around Harris.

Posted by tigh-na-mara at 12:01 AM BST
Updated: Tuesday, 19 June 2007 10:37 AM BST
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Sunday, 10 June 2007

Sunday 10th June 2007

A misty start to the day at 3 am

And it continmued misty for a few hours.

This turned to rain for a brief spell around 9 am

And then back to sunshine by half past 10.

Pat and Dave called around for a coffee.

Not forgetting Briagha though she had to do without the coffee.

The light this morning was somehow much paler than the last few days and the sea and sky responded accordingly.

GB and I spent much of the day sorting out the loft – but don’t tell anyone we worked on a Sunday!! I would break off every now and then when an insect like this Heliophilus pendulus hoverfly came into the house.

The day continued a mixture of sun and occasional cloud.

Until, between 22.08 and 22.15 the sun gradually set over Lower Bayble. And finally it disappeared for a few hours.

Posted by tigh-na-mara at 12:01 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 18 June 2007 4:06 PM BST
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Saturday, 9 June 2007

Saturday 9th June 2007

I make no apologies for all the sky photos which appear on this Blog. In most urban areas little can be seen of the sky because of surrounding buildings and the slight reduction in brilliance caused, even nowadays, by pollution. Here on the Isle of Lewis the sky is not only an integral part of the landscape and seascape but also an ever-present glory in its own right. (I am purposefully forgetting some of the experiences of previous holidays here where the nearest one could get to seeing the sky was a cloud a few metres above the ground and horizontal rain a few metres in front of one's face.)

This is Lower Bayble from Tigh na mara at the same early hour of the morning.

As well as pandering to my needs and desires, GB has been working hard in his garden in this brief spell between trips away. (Note the bright red garage door which Pat and Dave can see from all the way across the valley in Upper Bayble - and which Pat likes so much - Not!)

It did not take long for the Painted Ladies to be swarming over the rockery plants in GB's garden this morning, renewing their energy after their long flight.

The Painted Lady is a long-distance migrant, which causes the most spectacular butterfly migrations observed in Britain and Ireland. Each year, it spreads northwards from the desert fringes of North Africa, the Middle East, and central Asia, recolonizing mainland Europe and reaching Britain and Ireland. In some years it is an abundant butterfly, frequenting gardens and other flowery places in late summer.

We called over at Pat and Dave's and sitting on their front door was a Netted Mountain Moth. Regrettably it did not stop long enough for me to get a photo. Instead I photographed the view over the valley to Tigh na mara.

"Let me out!" Briagha has recently had an operation and is not yet allowed out off the lead....

GB and I headed out for the day and went across the Isle of Lewis on the Barvas road. I like the little huts used by the peat cutters along this road, though they cannot match the summer shielings on the Pentland Road for picturesqueness. (OK - so there is no such word as picturesqueness but you knew what I meant!)

As we have been travelling I have been taking dozens of pictures through the car window and many of them have been surprisingly successful. On today's run the weather was so clear I took a number with the mountains of Harris and Uig on the horizon.

At Shawbost it began to get misty. We stopped here for a while and after photographing a boat on a little loch we had a walk across the moor to the Norse Mill and Kiln which has recently been restored.

Lewis was once home to 200 small horizontal wheel mills. Here this was housed in the further of the two thatched buildings. The front one was the kiln in which the grain was dried.

This is the mill. Shawbost Mill, also known as The Mill of the Blacksmiths, was operational until the 1930s. The last operational mill on Lewis only stopped turning in 1945. This was first restored in the 1960s and again in 1995 with a smart new path added from the road in 2003.

This is the interior of the mill.

On we travelled, turning left at Carloway which think is one of the prettier townships on the island with its distinctive church and bridge.

GB then took me to the blackhouse village Na Gearrannan - a marvellous place.

As we were leaving the village we heard two Corncrakes quite close. Their call, like the sound of a comb being played, is certainly one of nature's most distinctive and compelling sounds. It seems strange to think that in my mother's youth they could be heard every year in the field across the road from her house - well within the boundary of the City of Liverpool. Now, even here on Lewis they do not seem as common as when I first came up to visit GB in the 1970s.

Some Silverweed was in flower at the side of the road as we looked over the crofts in the outside (and vain) hope of seeing a Corncrake.

Between Carloway and Callanish, as we passed through the area around Breasclete, I continued to take lots of photos through the car window as I have done all holiday.

At Callanish we called on Ann and admired her garden which a Large Red Damselfly was also enjoying.

The views from Ann's house and garden include the sea loch, the stones of Callanish and the mountains of Uig. Not a bad location!!!

Meet Ann's greyhounds - Dandy and Shona.

And one of Ann's next door neighbours.

At the Callanish Stones we were greeted by a Skylark singing his heart out from the top of one of the stones - a most romantic perch.

As always the Callanish Stones provided the photography and atmosphere that typify the island for me. The view from the stones over the sea lochs was magnificent.

Each individual stone is a wonderful thing – a work of art in its own right.

It is thought that the Stones were erected by a Mediterranean peoples who colonised the Western side of Britain by sea and built not only Callanish but Stonehenge as well, in the second millennium B.C.

Close by the main Callanish Stones are two more circles – Callanish II (above) and Callanish III (below).

This is my chauffeur!

The road home – across the moors of North Central Lewis.

The occasional stand of planted conifers can be seen – some have been replanted after the original Lodgepole Pine and Sitka Spruce (planted from 1968 to 1972) were ravaged by the caterpillars of the Pine Beauty moth in the 1990s. I think there are beautiful views along the A858 though for some the scene would be too desolate.

GB stopped in Acha Mor for me to take photos of a ruined crofthouse that has been in that state for at least thirty years. This has been a favourite spot of mine for a long time and I have pictures of it taken in the pre-digital age.

From there we went across the moorland road which I love for its little shielings, some of which are so attractively painted.

We paused to photograph a man stacking his peats, a job I recall helping GB with in the 1970s. (Or at least taking photographs while he did the work!)

After a day of constant sunshine we suddenly hit the mist as we drove across the Braighe onto the Eye peninsula.

Posted by tigh-na-mara at 12:01 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 18 June 2007 11:33 AM BST
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Friday, 8 June 2007

Friday 8th June 2007

At 4.15 this morning a huge flock of Starlings descended on the bush opposite GB's front gate. Despite the light nights it was too dark to photograph them properly and only those silhouetted against the skyline showed up. The rising sun created some beautiful scenes in the sky.

Sadly, it gave way to cloud before too long.

Question - What do they grow on Point? Answer - Fenceposts!

The question as to which is the front of Tigh na mara and which the back has been the subject of debate for some years but both its owner and I say this is the front.

We went to Stornoway for coffee and I set out before GB, walking over the moor past the peat workings and nearly as far as the main road at Garrabost before he picked me up.

Those who know me will appreciate I have always had a thing about post boxes and have taken many photos of them over the years. Those in Scotland provide additional scope for this ridiculous hobby because in certain cases they lack the Royal cipher. This one, for example, has been made in the time of Elizabeth II. Since Scotland had no Elizabeth I an EIIR cipher would be inappropriate so the Scots just settle for the crown on them instead.

In the afternoon I had a walk down at the beach and spent ages just taking in the delights of waves, sky, and seascape.

On the way down to the shore I came across a moth - a geometer; some sort of carpet moth. Sadly it wouldn't open its wings for definite identification.

On any beach I love examining the pebbles and stones that have been rounded by the action of the sea and brought to rest on the shore. Here they are primarily gneiss and granites.

The Thrift (Armeria maritima) has been fantastic all over the Island this last week.

Primroses (Primula vulgaris), which have been over for some time down South, are still flowering well on the cliffs hereabouts.

On the cliffs and the shore well over a dozen Wrens were wandering and flitting around. Some were parents and others, like this one, were youngsters with the remains of their yellow gape visible.

Both young and old were noisy as Wrens usually are and though they let me come very close they kicked up an awful fuss about it.

An Orchid - one with spotted leaves - was just beginning to come out by the shore - as yet to be identified. (This is a composite photo to show budding flowers `and leaves,)

There were Arctic Terns on the shore and they gave me the best photos of that species that I have ever managed.

A Ringed Plover was on the beach as well but at times it was so well camouflaged it took me ages to pick it out on some of the photos.

On the way back up to Tigh na mara I noticed that almost every Yellow Flag Iris had its resident spider. In the evening Fiona and Ann came for dinner. Painted Lady butterflies also came to feed - on GB's garden flowers. Fiona came from Knock, Ann from Callanish but the Painted Ladies started out on continental Europe somewhere so they get the prize for being most attracted to GB's repasts!

Mind you, the Painted Ladies didn't get offered stuffed mushrooms with haggis, chicken, and drunken raspberries which the rest of us had! At the light began to fade around 11 in the evening the drumming of Snipes could clearly be heard over the crofts at the back.

So here ends another day, the abiding memory of which is of baby Wrens.

Posted by tigh-na-mara at 12:01 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 18 June 2007 3:50 PM BST
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