August: Basking Shark Month

Before I do the August catch up I think that the Basking Shark day deserves a post all to itself as will the Killer Whale day in July!! This was Sunday the 30th of August, a grey day but flat calm. The weather both sides was good but to-day overcast.

Seaflower Skye   had come over on their regular seafood safari’s, Ewen the skipper mentioned that there were Basking Sharks off of Fladda. I’d heard from visiting yachts that there were a few out and about around the top of Skye, so to get a few photos I thought I would head down for a look around on the RIB.

Lorraine does  not like me going alone so I asked Ian Houston who was on one of the moorings we have here. He did not need to be asked twice and off we went. I had told Iain we may see Basking Sharks and he took his rod to see if he could catch his tea.

We arrived at Fladda to find not one but 10 Basking sharks in total just lazily drifting about as they do. There was quite a selection with some huge.

We spent the next hour, most of it with the engine switched off just watching the Sharks swimming about, a fascinating experience.

 

In Line With Manish

This has been the best year for Sealife for quite some time, the temperature of the water was at 15 degrees one day and mostly hovering around 14 at this time. I suspect that had a major influence on the amount of Summer  Marine Sea Life visitors in the Sound of Raasay.

Off Fladda

I think it must be over ten years ago and more when I took a trip with visitors around Rona and on that day we saw 17 Basking Sharks, Minke Whales and a Peregrine bombing the Sea Eagle, that day certainly sticks in the mind.

Loch A Sgurr

Since that time  there has been a dearth of sealife at the height of the Summer and it has been a hot topic with visitors on Yachts to Rona who sre happy to  report their sightings.

Off Fladda

It is also noted that water temperatures have been on average low with one dark grey summer a few years ago hardly coming above 10 degrees during the whole summer/year.

Looking Down the West Side of Raasay

Laid Back Feeding

On one occasion this day one huge shark decided to swim several times around the RIB and on one occasion had a go at the bow with his tail. The rule of Whale Watching is to give them distance and to not stress them. On this day the Sharks were as interested in us as much as we were in them.

Round The Rib

Much to Iain’s astonishment and the fact that he was fishing, one of the Basking Sharks gave us a lot of attention. This one went round us three times one after the other very close, in fact Iain took his line in in case he foul hooked it.

A great once in a lifetime experience.

I spotted Dan Corrigal’s boat MV Stardust further down the Sound and gave him a call. He needed no encouragement and with a boat load of tourists made his way up to Fladda. He told me later the folk on board were blown away seeing the Sharks, one comment was that it was the best boat trip ever and they had been all over the world taking wildlife trips. Stardust Boat Trips.

Finally a link to a video we made of the day just before we headed of into Loch A Sgurr where we saw another two bringing the total on the day to 12, there was some debate about one of the Loch a Sgurr Basking Sharks, we may have seen it earlier. But all in all an amazing day.

 

 

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September Days

Working backwards in an effort to catch up and fill in the blanks I’ll head back to September. On a grey October day going through the photos and seeing the wonderful weather lifts the spirits at a time when you know that it is going to be another long winter. But before I start here’s a link to the history page, a video on You Tube that Lorraine found there yesterday:    Dundee University Visit 1933/34

A must watch, here goes! September was a lovely month, always is mostly. There is the anticipation of the coming Red Deer rut which is always a fantastic time despite all the angst this year with our glorious Government and Forestry Land Scotland’s attitude towards our iconic Red Deer (Scottish Gamekeepers Association).

September Days

Given the current Covid 19 restrictions we had to scale back the male Red Deer cull in our management programme. We can do this for one season with no impact on the Island. The problem being we had no market for Stags in October. Looking ahead in July we tried to source new markets for the venison we butcher here but most Hotels were not running at 100% and most had their own supply. Fortunately for us Dan Corrigal stepped in and offered Rona venison burgers at his chip shop on the harbour at Portree. We have supplied quite a few over the last months and thanks to ‘Chabba?’ who runs the chip shop, it has been a Summer success. Add our regular customers to the mix and visiting yachts/cottages buying our venison, it has been a good year for sales.

Quality Rona Venison.

We have quite a stock of various cuts and will be offering a box scheme shortly. Last night I cooked a piece of fillet, we do not often have fillet but the recipe I came across in the ‘Shooting Times’ was interesting. I have to say that this simple meal was one of the tastiest I’ve ever cooked and the recipe and the others we regularly cook for Supper Clubs will be in the box and on the recipes page soon.

Sorting the Leaks

Back to the day job and last winter, right at the end we had the most horrendous rain, I think for two days. After that anything that would leak did so. With the wind driving it I found water where there had never been water before. Inside the bothy the hall wall behind this one was pretty wet and it seems the rain got driven in along the wall, past the seal and caused a bit of damage. So like a lot of jobs on the list it was good to tick this one off.

North Wind

Whilst doing this job I spotted the shore littered with jellyfish left by the high tide. At the start of the month the North wind started, driving jellyfish down the Sound of Raasay in their thousands. This year was no exception, not so good for swimming especially when the water around Rona was at its warmest for years. This was evident in the return of many Basking Sharks, whales and even a Killer Whale (more later).

Have We Enough Stuff

Of course at this time the North Wind means cooler days but generally sunny too and our guests here with just a small amount of luggage enjoyed their stay very much.

For Sale

We have quite a few ‘For Sale’ items , I have three  60 hp two stroke outboards and quite a bit of Quinntherm Insulation to sell, more of that later too. But we did put the ATV on Facebook and we had so many phone calls we more or less sold it within an hour. Despite it being so rusty. But spares alone I guess made it worthwhile.

Resurrection

Our new generator of just over 2 years installed has developed a leak, it is disappointing but these things happen. It will require a major repair so we decided to repair this old  generator that it replaced. It needs a new alternator and we sourced one at Meccalte which arrived this weekend. It will be good to have a spare and fingers crossed for an easy install.

September was holiday time, the weather was great we picked up our Danish visitors in Edinburgh which was a scary thought after being in splendid isolation on Rona for so long. But no worries everywhere bar one place (local) was very up to date with their handling of the Virus. Since the weather was so good we took the chance to visit the Skye shore, I had been over a few times this year and after 18 years on Rona I was astonished to visit this area only once sailing over on my Wayfarer many years ago and cannot understand why I have not done it before.It is the most interesting place and our Danes greatly enjoyed seeing a new part for them of Skye. A part of Skye you do not see from the shore and the thousands that go to the Old Man of Storr miss out.

Sunny Days and Holidays

The shore was easy to get onto and the fishing all the way up the coast to Staffin was good, all in all a memorable day and a must see on a visit to Skye on Seaflower Skye or Stardust Boast Trips .

Talking About Fishing

Talking about fishing, Mark a regular visitor, stepped off the ferry, walked over to the cottages, unloaded everything, walked to the shore and quickly caught 4 Pollack. 2 hours on the Island. 4 is enough to carry home he said!! Other visitors suggest there are no fish around Rona but…….

After the Sun

As predicted after a spell of glorious weather the fog always arrives, we had quite a few days of it and one in particular when it was so thick it never lifted all day despite reports of no fog a few miles South. But small price to pay for the other sunny days.

Repairs

Back to the ever growing list of work to do. We now have a maintenance schedule, well we always had one but this one is all together and helps enormously to keep on top of the jobs that need doing regularly. This one was hanging over me for quite a while and as we had noticed a bit of erosion in the concrete base, we felt it wise to strengthen the base plate up. Hopefully it will do the job and we can sleep easy during the gales that test the turbines.

Maintenance

On one of the few poor days in September the Navarra decided to pack in. It was fuel for sure. I had to sprint back to get the bike, no jacket. Lorraine had to walk to Dry Harbour, it was changeover day. Needless to say it was a very trying and wet day. But we got through it. It has been a long time since we did a changeover with the ATV motorbike but of course we did it that way before we had 4×4 vehicles at the South end. But in the old days we would have been prepared, not this day. It was a choked filter and with the age/rust on the Navarra it should not be a surprise.

Wonderful Meals

Finally looking back on September it was by far the best month, the clouds had lifted the sun was out, the visitors were here in numbers and the harvest was at its best. The langoustines were big and juicy all together a good month.

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Stormy Sunday

It has been an awful longtime since my last blog, I’ve said it before that I read somewhere that Blogs invariably fail after a couple of years, I guess for many reasons but for this one ‘Time’ is the precious resource out here on Rona.

Big Harbour Aspen

It has been so long since I posted I’ve had to spend half an hour trying to figure out how to  insert a photo.

Autumn at Big Harbour

We are getting the hang of it now so here goes. Jim our good yachting friend of many years from Ireland was on the phone to see what was happening on Rona, lamenting the fact that there has not been a post forever. I said I would get round to it as soon as but……… We do not do times heets here although I keep a diary. But lately I have been keeping a sheet of work done and here is Tuesday the 6th of October: 6.30am up, 7am hens out , feed sheep, 7.30am stalking, 10.45am back to BH no shot, 10.55am tidy garage, 12pm house, paperwork, lunch. 1.30pm working on the RIB, 4.30pm finish RIB work clear up, 5pm catch up on calls, tea, the rest of the evening on the phone. Just a typical day, mostly 7 days a week but I’m not complaining. Could just do with some more hours in the day.

Evening Sunset, Portree Tomorrow.

Back to this month, in a bid to catch up I’ll run through October and then hopefully this week get a resume of the Summer past.

Off To Portree

The Voe boat has been invaluable this year and in past years, I think we have been to Portree most weeks this summer, whether shopping or uplifting fuel/sheep etc. It is really nice to get an early start and head over at first light though. Not to mention the sealife, every trip is different and you never know what you will see on the day.

Seaflower Heading to Ullapool

On this particular day I passed our ferry boat heading out of Portree  off on a charter to Ullapool, prospecting I hear.

Arriving Portree

Being October it is a bit of a dash to get everything over , done and dusted  before the bad weather comes, which it has done this last week and especially to-day.

Portree Harbour

As much as we stock up there is always something else to get. This year with Covid it has been very quiet in Portree up until July 4th of course but since lock down lifted the early morning visit is very necessary as the traffic just gets so busy and all of a sudden when the BnB’s/Hotels empty around 10am the town turns into one big traffic jam.

Lost Signal

Back to Rona and we had a few  problems lately with the internet. First of all on checking our back up I discovered that our satellite connection had died, I tried to get our supplier to rectify it and basically they switched us off, thanks. So now we are looking for an alternative and 4G routers seems to be the way to go. But in the first instance I had to sort out Applenet our Wireless connection through the Applecross Community service. Turned out it was not our end but a radio transmitter on Raasay. But no harm, the view from the mast when I was up top checking it was lovely, a spy for stags and a good sunset.

Looking for EE

Next day I could be found walking about Rona with two phones one EE one Vodafone. Trying to determine the strength of the signal around our new house. I came across this fault in the rock just above the house, I had not seen it before but in the sun it really stood out.

Meals on Wheels

Unfortunately due to Covid we cannot host Supper Clubs in the Lodge but such is demand we are delivering to the cottages, our first try went well and with small numbers it is pretty straight forward and a joy to do with Rona produce.

Laid out and Ready to go.

We delivered the box into the house and laid it out, the table was set so it was deliveroo and go.

Lifting the Moorings

The onset of winter brings the sailing visitors to a close, the odd one rocks up in Winter but very odd ones. The moorings have done well this year given that the season only started first week in July, most yachts visiting picked them up and a big thank you for the 100 + yacht visitors that contributed to our Island by doing so. We leave one mooring in overwinter and strip the rest, dropping the chains to the sea floor.

The Firewood Platform

Late summer I finished a wee project I’ve been planning for years, with the larch left over from the house I made a small landing jetty that we can get into to load firewood from the forest at Big Harbour. The only problem is the seaweed is so deep it is difficult to get the boat in and out without getting choked. So the next job is to cut the seaweed away, a lovely job for a cold winters day.

The Last Mooring Lifted

With the last mooring up it was time to clean the strops and drop the shackles into oil.

Portree Lamb Sales

The following day I was off to Portree with 8 lambs from this year to the sale, early start again and the weather was kind to me.

Callie and Dan

At 9.30am as arranged Callie turned up and with his help and Dan’s we got the sheep quickly loaded into the stock trailer despite the very low tide. Stores on board and back to Rona after a breakfast from Relish and getting all the Portree news.

Visitors

That night my family arrived and Seaflower was back from the North so a busy day for late season visitors. In the middle of it another home delivery meal.

Getting Easier

Another meal deliverooed and now it is getting really easy to put together and we hope that we will have many next year. Even with the family in residence in the Lodge we had time to cook it and then after delivery joined them in the Lodge for a lovely tea, no washing up either.

The First Frost

Going back and fore to the cottages we bumped into one of our guests who told us that the bell tower in the Schoolhouse had fallen the previous night. It had been very frosty and I guess the water in the mortar had a bit of expansion and it fell down.

Collapse

It has been in my mind to knock down the dangerous bits on the schoolhouse at Dry Harbour but just as we were contemplating doing it the lockdown was lifted. So we decided that it would be a winter job. It will be sad to see the high chimney and gables falling in but fall in it will even without my help. So better to do it now rather when someone may be close to it.

Ouch

Talking about damage, here are the remains of one of the props’ from the RIB,  the rocks keep moving about here a yachtsman once told me, how true!!!

Stormy Days Ahead

Finally Friday was a busy day yet again: 7am up, 7.45 out, hens out sheep fed. 8.30 RIB shifted to safer place away from the shore, 9.30am  tractor moved out of shed, 10am skids for the Voe boat in place to take it out of the water. 10.45am tea, 11.15am out to sea to pick up creels, 11.45am ashore with Voe onto Skids. 12pm get ready for cottage changeover one day early due to the storm.  Quick Lunch. 1pm Dry Harbour with Lorraine pick up guests and luggage back to Big Harbour, 2.30pm Seaflower arrives, guests away new guests to the cottages, 3.30pm Lorraine back to Big Harbour, 4pm drag Voe right out of the water, secure above high water mark and put dinghy in the shed. 5pm strip new alternator in delivered to-day, check sizes and for water. 5.30pm deliver firewood to cottages and check if all ok. 5.45pm check generator and water supply at Dry Harbour, 6.30pm finish. Another day on Rona

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Visit to Eilean Tighe

Sunday the 14th June, another beautiful day. First thing a run down to Fladda on the RIB to see the neighbours, all well there and back to Base. The weather was stunning so instead of putting in another working day we decided to take a few hours out and explore Eilean Tighe. I had not been down and landed there for many years so it was a nice easy decision to make. We fueled up the Voe boat, checked the anchor ( I never use it) and off we went. We took the dinghy, dropped the anchor in the ford (Caolas) between Raasay and Eilean Tighe , the tide was in and we rowed ashore, first stop Julia’s house.

The Eilean Tighe to Raasay Ford.

There was a bit of movement on the water with seabirds about, the Sea Eagle was flying around and took off from the North side where he has a perch on the cliff . I have since heard from Julia herself about a special rock in that general area which is magnetic . So I asked my Geologist friend (Duncan MacSwann Article) Dick Selley about it and here is his thorough answer.

“Yes, all over Rona you will see occasional bands of black crystalline rock. These are intrusions of magma termed basalt if finely crystalline or dolerite if coarsely crystalline. Some are coeval with the metamorphism of the Lewisian gneiss. The NW-SE aligned vertical black intrusions however are related to the Tertiary (circa 60 million yeas ago) volcanic centre of the Cuillins. These black rocks are rich in iron and are thus magnetic. This is why in the old days before GPS geologists and climbers would never rely on compass bearings around the black Cuillins or indeed many other parts of Skye & Raasay.”

Dick Selley
Emeritus Professor of Petroleum Geology & Senior Research Fellow
Department of Earth Science & Engineering,
Royal School of Mines
Imperial College, London

Which was one of the reasons for me to take a long planned visit to the East Side of Skye last Sunday.

Butterfly or Moth?

It was a very hot day, too hot for climbing the highest point but that was the intention. The grass was alive with bugs, butterflies but no midgies it was too hot. I expected to see deer up top but despite big wallows and lots of tracks there was nothing hanging about, no doubt they were on Raasay looking for water, there did not seem to be much of it for them on Eilean Tighe.

Julia’s House

I’m always fascinated by Julia’s house. Our good friend Julia MacKenzie who at 97 years of age lives in Inverness, she has been an inspiration to us here as long as I have lived on Rona and on regular telephone calls I enjoy hearing stories about the times that herself and her family lived here. Her book “Whirlygig Beatles and Tackety Boots” is out of print but I will blog about it soon, for me an important wee book with much on her times there.

Julia’s House Wonderful Stone

The first time I saw this house I wondered at the skill in building these houses at that time. The stonework is fascinating how the natural shapes come together, of course a lot of these houses would have had a covering, looking at this one I can see shell sand mortar in some corners and crannies, I must check with Julia on that.

Julia’s House Craftsmanship

The perfectly curved outer corners are at complete odds with the perfectly square inner walls. Such a pity that these houses are all falling apart. But time will do that for sure with no one living there anymore. Check the remains of what looks like a plaster still clinging to odd corners. Washed off after years of rain.

Julia’s House, Eleven Folk lived Here

In her book Julia talks about how her maternal Grandfather originally lived there, after her Grandmother died her Mother and Father went to live there with their family.

Round Corners Outside, Perfectly Square Corners on the Inside.

They then spent nine years there before moving two miles onto Raasay to the croft (Farm) at Kyle Rona.

The Fireplace weighs?

As in Rona, many of the fireplace stones are huge, this one no exception, there is one almost identical at the old schoolhouse on Rona at Doire na Guaile (Doire na Guaileadhin). I wonder what it weighs and how they got it there.

The Fields Now Overgrown

When speaking with Julia I usually have many questions, she always says it is in her  book!!! But some things are not and when you see everything overgrown you have to use your imagination to wonder how it all worked. The abandoned homes must have been a very different picture with all the activity. I wonder what the picture would have looked like in the early 1900’s?

Fladda From Eilean Tighe

The view from the top of the highest hill was stunning that day, looking right down the Sound of Raasay to the entrance to Portree harbour, so close but not that accessible due to the weather and although we have enjoyed many good days this year, we have in the past struggled to get over especially in the winter. Reading some of the Rona history lately I was intrigued reading about the ‘Dewer Report, 1912’ where a Mr Graham from Rona was asked about mail. He said that they had a mail delivery three times a week but only once a week (maybe) in Winter. 2020 we enjoy a weekly delivery!!!!

The North East of Skye Looking to Duntulm

Looking out to the North of Skye and over the Minch to Harris it was fascinating to not see one boat. The Range boat had just passed, there must have been a trial on. But once that passed and the trail of smoke from its funnel disappeared round the Crowlins there was nothing. On one of the best Sundays so far this year, very strange and unusual but it should be no surprise with Covid 19 at its peak around then.

Big Harbour Entrance

Looking over to the mouth of Big Harbour I could clearly see the arrow painted on the left hand side of the entrance. Often we see yachts/boats sailing past then 20 minutes later they come in, but they never admit to missing it.

Eilean Tighe from The High Hill and the North End of Raasay

Looking down to the end of Raasay the perspective is good to see and I wonder at Julia and her sister taking off for School at Torran. I seem to remember that Julia and her Sister would walk there, one 7 the other 4 years old, again it is in the Book!!

Rona

My final view was of Rona itself, not a lot to it but a wonderful place to live.

Garbh Eilean and the Gap/Kyle Rona.

On the way down I stopped to spy over to Garbh Eilean, the stags winter there and I could clearly see them lying at the very top with their Velvet Antlers taking in the view and getting away from the flies. It is very green in the middle of this ‘Wee’ Island and there is a spring that provides running water. I often wonder if the Vikings were here and used it as a look out, had it been used before for some purpose. There are no ruins on Garbh Eilean but this very green patch in the centre would tell a tale if it was surveyed I guess.

Over many years gulls nested here then very slowly they started to diminish eventually disappearing, was it the lack of food at a critical time, I have a photo of many young gulls waiting at the shore for food. It did not register at the time but the following year I paid a little more attention and I guessed they were waiting for sand eels or small fish passing. There were so many of them that I think the Mink would have had to be very busy to wipe them out but I did shoot a mink  there by chance one day.

That Fireplace Again/How Did You Lift That.

The Witches Rowan.

I’m not much up on “flora’, Stephen Bungard at Raasay has a blog and if you are interested it is worth a browse, I often see a Rowan outside or near houses, a lot of them on Rona and now Eilean Tighe have had their day and are now rotten, falling down. With sheep and deer fat chance of regenerating a new one but they are there, generally not round houses now. I am told they were there to ward of witches and when I was working in Forestry we would avoid felling one, bad luck we were told!!

Rosa Canina on Eilean Tighe

A single Wild Rose was by the ruined boat shed? at Caolas, I noticed this morning the Wild Rose bushes here were laden with flowers which means a bumper year for rosehips, which we will turn into syrup then with a few ingredients into  ‘The Rona Cocktail’.

Finally just before leaving Eilean Tighe on a memorable visit I came across this Juniper bush/shrub. Is it a tree or a bush? On Raasay like Rona they are bushes, the sheep and deer I guess see to that although the ground is poor so perhaps that has something to do with it. But on a previous visit to Kyle Rona many years back I picked many juniper berries as we don’t seem to have many on Rona. There was an abundance of them on Raasay but not in my experience so plentiful on Rona.

Much to wonder about and much to contemplate. Next calm and sunny Sunday we hope to visit Kyle Rona, there is much to see on our doorstep.

There is a thought to re-print Julia’s book if you are interested in getting a copy let me know.

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Otters

We have many otters on Rona, they are as always quite elusive. For sure if you went out early in the morning or late at night at this time then you could and will find them. There are places where they frequent and are often seen. However the Otter although elusive has a habit of turning up at the top of the tide during the day  and fishing around the harbour in broad daylight. Much to the surprise of the yachties sitting in their wheelhouses at anchor. In this series of pictures we were getting ready to go out fishing and chatting by the shore when he appeared. We got in the boat and he promptly disappeared. I decided not to go fishing and tied up the boat and as I walked past the end of the pier he appeared again. I then lay down and watched him for half an hour but sadly he did not venture out of the water this time, he had small pickings but if he had found a fish he would have come out. Better luck next time.

The Sandpiper

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Sunday Outing to the East Coast of Skye

For many years I’ve planned to return to Beareraig Bay and sail up from Holm to the Kilt Rock. I sailed over here about 8 to ten years ago it was a beautiful day but I had no camera. The rocks and landscape are very special, not many tourists see it from this angle and often they pass it but only look out for the Old Man of Storr.

Holm Island

I had Calum with me who is very acquaint with this area having sailed and fished there many times over the years, so it was a bit of a tourist day out with my own guide.

I was fascinated to take time to look at the Generating station at Beareraig . I’d been told about the railway there and it was interesting to see it at last.

My Old friends  Ronnie,  Fraser MacDonald from Dingwall (HEB) used to visit this area often for work and tell many stories about it when I lived in Maryburgh, at last I could take time to take them in. A fascinating place.The rock formations and geology were quite breathtaking, to sail slowly along the coast, it would have been good to go ashore and spend more time here and there but the rain had other ideas. We went ashore at Rigg to see the rocks close up and to look for a landing stage where I could pick up friends. I was surprised to see how much erosion there was. We landed by an old Salmon station I guess and the sea was slowly claiming it back.

This cliff face had certainly changed since Calum’s last visit and with the rockfall we were able to see the signs of fossils in quite a few of the rocks. It is quite overwhelming to stand there and to take in just how old the geology here is.There were many Belemnites and a few Ammonites nice to see them and wonder. More time in the near future and the rain not soaking the camera and there could have been some interesting finds. Next calm day!!!!If my camera has survived to-day’s soaking.The landing at Rigg was as Calum predicted, a natural pier. I have some friends coming from this area and had a thought to zip over and pick them up there. A wee scramble over the rocks and we will be good to go. A good Recce. A surprise when concentrating on finding fossils to see a ‘Burnet Moth’, on the shore resting on a rock, we see them on Rona occasionally but not for a long time. The red spots stuck out on a grey morning, lovely to see but am thinking the weather was not so good for it. The beach stones were also fascinating, we do not have many round stone beaches on Rona and certainly not any as interesting and colourful as this. Again if we had more time it would have been nice to stay. As it happened before we could go any further the rain really came on and with a very wet camera it was time to pull out. We had a big pod of Dolphins on the way home always a pleasure to see not so sure about the newfishfarm (camera and phone now too wet for a picture) off Rigg. I wonder how it will get on during the Northerly storms, although there were many anchors and rope about!Which reminds me that on arriving at Beareraig the first thing we saw was a fresh salmon jumping out of the water, the second a Sea Eagle with what we thought an Oystercatchers chick but it may have been a fish, whatever, it was a kill. Ten minutes later the Male Sea Eagle flew out from the shore in front of us. All in all a great trip out on a wet Sunday  morning.

Posted in The Views and of course the weather, Wildlife | 8 Comments

The Weather

We are making venison burgers this morning, a morning inside. We have an order for ‘The Lower Deck’ Chippy, down on Pier Road. So it is not a bad day to be doing that inside when it is showery and a little grey. It will improve to-day with yesterday and last night welcome rain passing South. So in the meantime a quick post on the weather.

It has probably been the best weather for sailing or anything this year so far as long as I can remember. We’ve managed to get so much done because the weather has been kind but remember before the lovely spring we had 7 months of grey and rain!!

It had been hot so no surprise when the fog came. last Wednesday, Thursday.

On day two of the grey fog we went to the top of the hill to get some sun.

Sure enough just above the top of the track the sun was out and it was as always lovely to see.

Next day Friday started like this, the Marine Algae Bloom was getting brighter.

I took the RIB out to give it a run, the battery had gone flat, the bilge pump had flattened it. The he sea was so bright, it had been changing slowly these last few days from large areas but now it was all turquoise, really fascinating to see.

 

Even the harbour was wall to wall turquoise.

That night early on the clouds were shaping up to give us a really nice evening view from the house.As it got later it turned into this (I had gone up the hill with the camera by this stage).

Then back home to find a yacht sailing into the harbour (More later) and by that time it had turned into this.

So back up the hill again and more photos, I have hundred of sunset photos and they are always pleasing to take because every shot is different, no two are ever the same.

The Grand Finale before bed was this one below, possibly one of the best for a long time.

Posted in Daily Doings, The Views and of course the weather, Yachties | 3 Comments

Rona Revisited After Forty-Two Years

Here is a wee diversion from the usual day to day news on Rona. After a particularly bad weather weekend where the ‘Bad Weather’ forecast by the Beeb was one of the worst storms here this year. Very strong winds and torrential rain.

To-day a West Coast Sunday Grey Day.

Rona Flyover

Last year we had a visitor who had last been on Rona in 1963,
Richard  Selley from Dorking in Surrey
Emeritus Professor of Petroleum Geology & Senior Research Fellow. Imperial College London.

He had let me know he was coming on a private charter with David Croy of Raasay House and was keen to give ‘Rona’ a copy of Duncan MacSwan’s article which he had. We had a copy here but there were pages missing and ours had seen a lot of handling, so I was very keen to get a clean copy.  It was a pleasure to meet him and have a short chat. His subsequent emails have filled me in on what must have been a memorable time in the late 50’s early 60’s, camping on Raasay, Rona and Scalpay, studying the Geology of the area. I quote below from one of Richard’s emails:

“I spent several summers camping and squatting in derelict crofts hammering Raasay, Fladday, Scalpay and the midge-misted mountains of Torridon, first as an undergraduate geology student in 1959 & 1960, then as a post-grad researching for a PhD between 1961- 65. I spent most of my time on Raasay camped at Brochel and Fladday. I went to Rona with the shepherds for a week in June 1963. It was then uninhabited. We stayed in the croft by the harbour. I clambered all over the Lewisian Gneiss to see if the old Geological Survey mappers had missed any overlying Torridon sandstone. They had not. We had a week of glorious dry sunny weather. On the Saturday morning that we were due to return to Fladday there was a most fearful storm. We did not expect the boatman to come, but he did. On the way back the dogs were cowering on the bottom boards and one crofter got down beside them to say his prayers. I was holding on to the mast and at one point I thought it was horizontal and I was suspended vertically from it. Anyway we got safely back to Fladday soaked to the skin and very cold. A memorable visit to Rona!

During my time on Raasay I got to know many of the people, the Fladday folk in particular. Someone, after all these years I cannot recall who, gave me the document describing a visit to Rona a copy of which I handed to you. My visit to Raasay last year with my wife and a daughter was a nostalgia trip to mark my 80th birthday. I was curious to know if there were any of the Raasay/Fladday folk still alive who knew me from 60 years ago. I got in touch with Rebecca Maccay who put me in touch with Calum Gillies from Fladday, now living in Suisnish.”

If you click on the link below you will see the article by Duncan MacSwan describing the visit he made to Rona on the 30th July 1965. It is a very poignant piece and a very worthwhile read, we are lucky to have a copy.

Rona Revisited Duncan MacSwan 

With Thanks to Richard Selley for his help and input into this article.

Posted in Books, The Views and of course the weather | 1 Comment

Stormy Day

To-day is the ideal day for catching up on paperwork and mail, there is a gale going outside with heavy rain falling since first thing. There was an break around 8am but it has returned to grey.

The View from the Window to-day, trying to Tear the Tarp of The RIB

I’ll need to go outside and tie down the tarpaulin on the RIB, not expecting this at this time it is just slung over the boat to keep the UV off it. It must be blowing 30 knots just now so even although it is relatively sheltered it is getting worried by the wind. Even the sheep scattered from below the house just now, something must have been blown about to lift them from the shelter.

Thursday Evening Sail

Hard to believe it was like this above last night.

Thursday Evening Sail

We had some creels getting in the way of the next project. They were on the grass which had started to grow through them so rather than stack them again we put them out to see if we can catch some shellfish for ourselves. It was a lovely evening last night for it. Not a boat to be seen although there were 6 or so fishing boats out during the day.

The Quiet Harbour

No yachts though. Very strange coming into the harbour and no one there!!! A perfect evening for a G n T in the wheelhouse too!!

7am Thursday Morning

It was not so perfect at 7 am, we loaded the creels then to catch the tide, it makes for easier loading. We were promised rain and boy did it. The wind went round to the North and it was an especially bitter morning. But soon cleared and it was possibly the warmest day so far this year.

On Wednesday a Grey Trip to Portree

We went to Portree on Wednesday, it was a grey start then too, misty, murky and cool. The Coastgaurd appeared out of the mist when we were heading home, nothing to report in Portree, very quiet which still takes a bit of getting used to after the past few years.

A Quick Stop on Fladda. The First Amazon Parcel Delivered, Ever.

We had some groceries to pick up for our neighbours on Fladda, they had just arrived on the Island when the Lockdown came into force so they are stuck there, no complaints though. We dropped of their stores and Erlet was delighted to see the very first Amazon parcel to be delivered to Fladda. We had a chat, discussed the Planning application for a new fishfarm North of Fladda in Loch a Sgurr, keeping social distance of course.

Wednesday Deer Count South

Once we left them  we had the boat all up and running  so I decided to have a look South for deer from the boat.  We had done a cursory deer count this year but our helpers were unable to get to Rona for it so not it was not as thorough as the usual count. There are predominantly stags hanging about the Islands South of Rona so a count there is always worthwhile. We went ashore and came across some cast antlers and 8 stags.

Cheeky Lambs at the Early Morning Feed

On Tuesday morning I fed the sheep as usual, the lambs loving playing around this boulder but they look very miserable to-day out there all hunched up and getting very wet.

Dying at My Feet

After I fed the sheep and went up to the garage to collect something, a 30 second trip. I came back down and here was one of the Wedders lying down on its back by the shed, in the small ditch. Unable to get up it was slowly drowning (I actually thought it was dead). I sussed that one of the older Wedders had butted it in the side knocking it over, they were looking guilty as hell and this sheep gets picked on. I turned it over and stood it up but was struggling to get it steady, I called for help and we held it up for 15 minutes, it slowly cleared its lungs and became more steady. After half an hour we were able to leave it in the garden of Rona Lodge. It survived but it is amazing how quickly things can change, a narrow escape for Lorraine’s favourite sheep.

Thursday afternoon Work Walk

Yesterday afternoon I had what I call a work walk. I promised Denmark that I would send a series of pictures on what we were doing over the last few months. At 4 o’clock I got a bit of time and as the sun was splitting the Skye, the light was good I started my walk at the pier where we had put on some new decking, painted the railings at the pier, fitted new safety rails, concreted the path and then the painting.

Work Walk

I think the camera got tired of all the work as the battery ran out just after the shot of the fank fencing. Lots of painting but I’m not so sure we’ll get any done this week coming…….

 

Posted in Daily Doings, The Views and of course the weather, Wildlife, Yachties | 1 Comment

Lockdown -The Sequel

Flower Moon

The last of the catch up blogs! Starting way back on the 6th of May with a picture in the late evening of the Moon, Full Moon’s to-day all seem to have names, a bit like storms I guess. Back to the day job. Off to Portree on the 7th to get stores and fuel, still at a good price which was the easy bit, queuing at 7am at the door of the Co-op with a half a dozen other souls in search of an easy shop was weird but entertaining with the lady in front of me very scathing and angry with the news that the Portree Care home had an outbreak of Covid 19.

Heading Out.

Not much about on this crossing to Portree, a few Puffins, Gannets and the usual suspects, nice to see a Great Northern Diver in the Bay at Acarseid Mhor when we were leaving. Last seen last week just off the pontoon when we were concreting down the track there.

Portree Looking Quiet

The boat is now going well and the crossing takes barely 40 minutes, on a flat calm day even better. Landing in Portree at 6.30am. Quite a surreal experience, normally there is a buzz even at that time and now nothing. On the way home we had a visit from a small pod of Dolphins, they were fishing but some of them broke off for a look. Always uplifting to see them.

The New Lamb Creep

Back to the work. There was a comment came in from the blog on myself and my neighbour Paul ‘At the End of The Road’ in Arinish having a competition to see who does the most work. No competition just the way it is and if you live here it is one of the ways to enjoy the life, sadly work here takes over your life and the only way to escape it is to go away off the Island. This week we are all having ‘Down Time’, but not able to go off so we will see how that goes. We have been so busy with catching up that we have hardly taken a breath. So much so, we were getting tired (and stiff). By the way I see Paul is a bit lax on the blog like myself, just had a look, must be too much work!! ‘Life at the End of The Road’

Pet Lambs

We have more pet lambs than ever this year, with no grass, cold weather and the most ewes lambing ever it has been full on, 20 or 200 you still have to get up and go round them first thing or the predators/cliffs/bogs will get them.  I’ll save you the pictures of the remains of the two we lost to the Eagle (Sure it is a Golden rather than Sea!!), from this elevation you get a birds eye view of the Eagle passing the window just on darkness quartering the field/outrun. Thankfully he is finding food elsewhere (I hazard a guess at deer who have succumbed to the winter) and we have only lost two lambs. But with grass in short supply the Gimmers have given us problems. With a few cases of mastitis on the go this year too, it is no surprise to have to supplement the feeding and to have a twin lamb cast out. The smaller of the two above is  a gimmer’s lamb where she was not able to feed it. We nearly lost the gimmer in February to the tick. She was so badly infested it was touch and go but she has survived and in April produced this small lamb, he is coming on, growing well.

May 13th Snow on The Tops

On one of my early morning walks it was no surprise to see the hills all around with a covering of snow, it was so cold that day. Still no grass growing, still feeding the sheep with sheep nuts.

The Net Picked Up From the Shore.

The ‘Work’ goes on and tidying up the place we stretched out the net we found just on the shore up North, a fair length and I am told it is in fact a trawlers net rather than from the FishFarm. All the same better right out of the water, now what can I use that for?

Windmill Working Platform

Nothing lasts forever, this winter I was lucky to spot that the electricity was flickering, Something was Wrong! A check of the genny shed and checking the power input showed me a wavering needle on the amps input from the windmill. A quick look up there and I saw one of the springs hanging loose putting the whole thing out of balance. Thankfully I got it before it threw another and the whole thing shook itself to bits. On temporarily fixing it I was aware that the platform for servicing was rotting slowly away, here I was last week getting round to fixing it. If we get another year or two out of it we will be lucky.Onwards and upwards, the bags of 20mm mix slowly falling apart down by the shore and loosing their contents are a source of irritation. Try lifting them after they have been lying, no chance. So with some satisfaction we got a chance to fire up the pan mixer and get a little more of the pier path done.

It took a few tonnes of mix to get this far and with only 4 tonnes left, I’m not sure we will finish the job. It will be a while before we get a landing craft so we will just have to wait a little longer.

And finally this weekend I got over to the forest to put up the bird boxes I had left. I made them over the winter and yes a bit late for this years nesting (maybe second broods) but I suspect they will take a while to weather and be acceptable to the wee birdies we have. We’ll leave them to it to and keep the fingers crossed.

 

 

Posted in Daily Doings, The Views and of course the weather, Wildlife | 1 Comment