September Came and Went

September was a very quick month. Looking back on the pictures during this short month I see the Eagles were knocking about as the young ones started to find their on way about. The Sea Eagle pair of chicks from Eilean Tighe were regular visitors but I did see them back roosting not far from the nest just a couple of weeks ago.

The Rona Red Deer were about the house a lot, I guess if you live in a remote location you are going to get nature treating you with familiarity and so it is. One of my favourite pictures were of a family we have with two calves that are often outside the window feeding away.

Red Deer hind Attending to its Calf
In The Rowan Trees

Other excitement this month was the arrival of yet another Quad bike. With the annual stalking guests coming we were keen to have some back up after our old (second) quad fell to pieces. So a new one was sourced from MacGregors Industrial Supplies and duly delivered (to Portree). Then the fun starts getting it here.

There were many trips to Portree during this busy month, with one eye on keeping the fuel levels up with Winter fast approaching and an unusually high demand for venison. We were there twice a week there almost but it was fine in glorious weather to cross the Sound of Raasay with drums of fuel and all the other stores and supplies.

It was a surprise to see the liner off of Portree on the trip above, the first of the year I think. Surprisingly there was not the usual chaos down on the pier that day despite a steady stream of buses coming and going.

Another day another trip, this time with the lambs to Callie for the Portree sale. They did well as they all did on the day, just a pity now after all these years that we have decided to stop running the sheep. Hopefully this month we will get our Ewes off but we will keep the Gimmers just in case the new folk coming to help us permanently will be interested in sheep. A quick visit onto Fladda on the way back to see John and Erlet up for the summer as usual, 50+ years on Fladda this year. On removing some old paperwork they found that the wall had been pasted with old parcel wrapping and the stamp came away with the paper. The stamp is of Carrickfergus Castle the issue was from 1955, amazing what turns up.

A few photos to finish in September. The deer were treating the new house as their new home too, the cuisine as ever continues with fresh langoustine featuring large this month, the catch was very good this year. Dan continued to come up every night on his Whale Trail Tour. It proved popular with the stop over on Rona the highlight. In late September I finally took the plunge and started swimming again. Mainly for my leg muscles which are very sore after a days stalking. I found that cold water swimming is the best thing for them. So one full wet suit later I went in. Great fun but now very cold. However as I was told, you get used to it and so it is.

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The Last Two Months

Early Morning Light

Yet again the workload on Rona took over our life, another two months with nothing doing on the blog. Plenty if not too much happening here. I blame Facebook for my page or The Isle of Rona FB page for making it too easy to put up what is going on on Rona on the day.

The weather continued to surprise us with many dry days and long sunshine. At last a summer to enjoy, even the midgies were more or less absent. The cottages were busy, the charter boats kept coming and the moorings were full every night. We were still closed for meals, showers, the shop and general interaction with the visitors as stories of the latest variant appeared on the news. but a wee phone call and we would meet visitors to sell them some of our ever popular Rona Venison. Our cottages were full and with the weather being so good the guests were seldom out of the sea enjoying a slightly warmer swim although not many went in without wet suits. Paddle boards and kayaks are appearing regularly now as people add to their collection of toys to play with. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of ‘stuff’ our guests bring.

There was a report of doors open at the Base which had recently closed so next day I ventured up but everything was ship shape and secure, sad to not see my good friends up there on this visit, we miss knowing they were there. I thought better to check rather than just call Kyle to report doors open etc. Perhaps our guests whom had come across the open doors had not seen a Qinetic visitor there, who knows.

I read a lot about the depletion of our nature, the wet desert that this new crop of conservationists keep bleating on about and certainly there are issues (not so many sea birds for sure) but this summer Rona was alive with dragonflies, all manner of insects, birds, otters, dolphins, especially Eagles and the deer. We do not have squirrels, pine martins, foxes or badgers but there are plenty of the above if you go and look for them. I hear from friends who work in nature of their places bursting with wildlife, where are these areas of depleted nature?

Finally visits to Portree were easy in good weather, great to have an early morning jaunt over to collect fuel, stores, visitors and just a day out.

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Been a long Summer

Way back at the end of spring it seemed we were in control of everything but it looks like the summer has got away from us. With so much on it is impossible to get no more than a few posts on facebook now and again. There is so much that has happened it is difficult to condense it into a single blog post so yet again I’ll put a few photos on this post to try to bring me up to date.

The weather was good after the prolonged cold spell, it was shaping up to be a good summer.

A new jeep on the first landing craft since the house build. Fuel came, scrap went all on yet another calm day.

Portree visits every week, parking chaos, lots of yachts, sorting out the landing craft delivery. Dan’s RIB appeared and has been here almost every night since. The poly tunnel explodes, sadly the Base up North closes. All going on!!

We have had some unusual boats in, the big one here flying a Maltese Flag, a superyacht? Church Cave (or Giants Cave) got a new box, there was some debate on social media about the stone cross, well visitors put it there, it has been there for years. It is a Cross, very similar to a Celtic cross, well done them!!!!! Dan still busy.

Lots of wildlife around, geese, deer even an Eagle outside the house. The weather continues.

For more Red Deer pictures from this year go to the Rona Red Deer Page.

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Last Week On The Island

Monday morning, poor day. Been a great spell of weather though so a wee bit of wind and rain will not be a bad thing. It will keep the dust down, wash the sheep, grow the grass and fill up the water level. So although we may not like it, it is absolutely necessary.

Looking at the few photos of last week I see that the yachting visitors are on the move, the military exercise has been in full swing, the trees are all flushed now but the grass is not growing enough for us to stop feeding the sheep. Some of this years crop of new birds are on the move but so are the predators. I’m hearing up at the Qinetic Base the small party of Greylag Goslings succumbed to Mink or ? At Dry Harbour there were a pair of Geese with 7 young Goslings. They certainly are increasing around Rona.

Unfortunately with the Yachts turning up the problems appear too. The Yacht Ortago arrived on route to St Kilda, they hope. They called ahead, made their number and asked to tie up to the pontoon so that they could buy Venison. No problem, it is nice to be asked. The Skipper it turned out worked for a Sailing Charity . It was good to hear from him how that was going, their charity was named after the first boat they had , which in turn would have hopefully been named after The Island.

That was the good news, the bad is that the mooring non payers have turned up again. Always early season and always the same lame excuses. But they will put AIS on their boats so they are easy to track. Not so easy to get the money out of them if they are foreign. But we will try. As it happened another skipped the mooring this morning but on contacting their Yacht Club, miraculously half an hour later they contacted us to try to pay, with as I say the usual excuses. I am sure (because it has happened before) that had I not contacted their Yacht Club I would be still waiting. Pathetic.

However Yacht ‘Postscript’ from Ardnamurchan was very vocal in their condemnation of this sort of behaviour, the first thing he did when he came ashore was pay his fees. So there are good guys and bad guys in every hobby I guess. We just seem to have a pattern here.

The cost of the moorings and the annual charges mount up and every mooring not paid is a cost to us. We hope it stops.

Our cottages are quieter this week with Covid still very much on everyone’s minds but from next week we are almost full for the season. I have a feeling the Yacht visitors will take off in June and it will be very busy. We will be doing ‘Crew Pot Suppers’ this season but it is important to book ahead.

We look forward to welcoming the visitors and hopefully not chasing too many for unpaid moorings.

A quick round of the photos. here we have the trees flushing, Greylag Geese and Goslings, Hinds through the window, The Rona Trust and Yacht Ortago. Antlers left by visitors, thank you. The chair that collapsed when I was on the phone, must lose weight!! The Navy boat patrolling the mouth of the harbour, we bet they wanted to visit, next time? Yachts in the harbour, the AIS of the yacht Levita (still to pay) and our cottage guests spying Sea Eagles, Primroses and finally fresh Snow on the hills.

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Cold Wind But Good weather

As promised the blog has changed, here is a selection of the last couple of weeks events on Rona, we have been to Portree for new tyres for the bike, stores and sheep feed.

The weather has been relatively good, dry days with a cold Northerly wind since a long time, so long now we cannot remember when it started. But it ain’t going away soon by the look of things. Tomorrow our ferry with cottage guests will be delayed a bit but I have every confidence in the Seaflower.

Last weekend the highlight was antler collecting, we like to collect up the cast antlers to give us an idea of what is about and to see if there is anything special on our Island.

So last Sunday on a beautiful calm day I took the RIB to the South end and had a look around.

Back in the Bay, there were Seals, Terns, Geese, Great Northern Divers and lots more. Plenty opportunities on a lovely day to take photos, although the big lens is getting really heavy. Must get a lighter one.

Enjoy!!

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So It Begins

Lisa and Linzi Cutting the Ribbon for the Opening of The Mission House

Here we are with the first guests of the year in the newly re-furbished Mission House (Formerly known as Seascape and Skyescape). Lisa and Linzi are regular visitors with their wee dog Maisie and they were delighted to be here after moving their booking quite a few times.

In an effort to keep up with the blog I’m going to concentrate on the pictures and have little writing. With so much on it is a sometimes neglected task and pictures speak louder than words.

The Lockdown has lifted, the cottages are open, we are almost fully booked. The yachts have not arrived yet although we did have one during Lockdown and one last week.

The weather is changeable with no grass growing but the lambs are getting fat on the bags of sheep feed from Harbro. Applenet, our local internet connection provider whom we host the mast for were over this week and all now working fine.

The generator that we bought in 2019 is having issues, a Monday morning one by the look of it and that is next weeks job, stripping it down to find the oil leaks. Vaccination in Portree on Tuesday but shopping tomorrow. So a busy week ahead, enjoy last weeks photos.

Dry Harbour Clouds
Big Harbour Sky
Mission House Main Bedroom
Living Room Mission House
Kitchen Mission House
Up at The Applnet Mast
Looking Down The Inner Sound
Looking North
Sean Carrying The Can
Applnet Transport/Ewen Gillies Kishorn Marine
Stormbound Kayakers Leaving after 4 Days
Some Lovely Evenings Snow Still on the Tops
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More Snow

Been a long time since we had a week of snow on Rona, or at least snow showers. Worrying to waken up to this to-day.

Snow Emergency

When I opened the curtains and saw three inches of snow I went, ok here we go. Not quite looking forward to digging lambs out but given the temperature last night I was worried.


Where’s the Grass Gone

But it was not long (two hours) before the sun came out and I would guess by mid day most of it will be away.

Sick Ewe

Once I had dealt with the bulk of the sheep, a head count and fed, it was onto feed the twin lamb that was struggling. After that a dose of Parafend and antibiotics for the Mother. The Ewe has scour and it is going to be touch and go if we can keep the lambs on her. Apart from that it is messy to say the least.

Feeling Very Sorry For Herself

So to-day’s job is to clean out the pen, it stinks!!!

Portree Tomorrow

I thought since I was there I’d get the boat in off the mooring for tomorrows trip to Portree. We need more sheep feed after heavier feeding this week.

Rowing in the Snow

Not very often you can say that you were rowing in the snow. The boat started first turn although I had a wee issue last trip to Portree, so I’ll be watching it carefully tomorrow.

Some Views from the Boat.
Back to Base

I had a sail round the Bay taking photos then put MV Rona to the Pontoon, I’ll get it ready for Portree tomorrow later. I’ll also be getting prepared for Calum coming to help put the moorings tackle back on this week. I think it may be a busy year.

Wintery Scene

I fed the ewes still to lamb then had a wee run around.

Looking Out To Portree Above The Lodge

As I drove around the sun was getting pretty hot, the snow melting as fast as it fell.

That is the story this morning.

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April Snow

The lambing gathers pace, on cue the snow comes just when we need it least this was yesterday mid-day.

This Morning

Ten minutes later at mid-day to-day! The Ewes are on the hill which means three walks around them each day, if the lamb enters the world in this snow and cold its chances of survival are much reduced.

Grim

One minute beautiful, the next Grim. Such is the unpredictable weather in April.

The View From Around Big Harbour AM This Morning (Tuesday)
Blizzard Conditions

I read this morning (Tuesday) online that the finger was getting pointed at Global Warming for our unpredictable weather just now. I get very tired when I read this sort of nonsense, a wee bit of snow in April and it is all doom and gloom.

In 1967ish whilst living on Mull we were camping in April at Drumfin with the Mull Scouts and Cubs. Lots of fun after a very warm spring day and the campfire. Off to bed to waken on the Sunday to a foot of snow, what fun getting towed by the Scout Leader, local electrician Roger Felter back to Tobermory as the ‘Emergency’ evacuation situation unfolded. Someone was despatched to collect our sledges first and a long line of them was strung out behind the car, with a cub on each. One by one as the speed increased we were thrown off into the ditch. The road was packed shiny snow sunny warm but crisp cold. I think I was one of the last to pile into Roger’s Vauxhall after rolling about the road. The last ‘cub’ enjoying the exhaust fumes all the way home.

Sorry to-day is not Global Warming (in my humble opinion).

Where’s the Grass

So just as the light was coming the snow started to fall heavy again making it very dark.

Out to the Cliffs

Really heavy going in thirty knots of wind and hail, fortunately no lambs. We are missing a couple of sheep all of a sudden so I have to check every nook and cranny for them, I wish we had some decent fields but good ground on Rona is not plentiful.

Lambing Platform

This was the same spot a day before, a favourite place for the Ewes to lamb. I’ve picked up a few here over the years so it is the first port of call in the morning. Lost one here to the Eagle last year.

The Twins

On Thursday last on a cracking late afternoon, I came back from Portree to find a set of twins just born at the side of our house, very lucky too as the female twin would not feed.

In The Sick Bay

We prepare the sheds for troublesome lambs, the male twin fed straight away but the smaller ewe lamb was struggling, much as we would point her in the right direction. So we had to bottle feed her Colostrum first them milk at four hour intervals. I suspect she did get a suck but it was hard going.

Beautiful Day For Skye Visit

I had an appointment with the Doctor and had planned a day off Rona for a while. I thought the lambs would start around the 6th but the Tup had other ideas. As it was it was a good day so no problem to check the sheep in the morning early and head off but not without picking up another new lamb, a good feeder this time.

Down in Sleat

I had planned a visit to Sleat to check out a boat and visit Scott MacKenzie Skye’s only Gamekeeper. He works at Fearann Eilean Iarmain Estate. A perfect day for an enjoyable visit. Hopefully more time next visit.

Back to Portree, loaded up.

After a couple of hours in Sleat it was up the road, shop, load up and back to Rona.

Tide Not Good For Loading

Really great to get a day like this in April, you do not mind carting the shopping up and down the gangway on days like this.

Even Lower Tide on Arrival

Unloading on a low tide is hard work so the sheep feed bags at 25kg could wait till the next day.

Tom Hanks!!

Next day a better tide but not such good weather, the high tides just now throw up all sorts of rubbish. It is always disappointing to see ‘stuff’ arriving on Rona. When out looking for lambs this morning I had a look into a cove over the back here and it was full of new plastic, we will have to go when the tide is good and weather calm to clean it up. It was not long ago last year that we cleaned it up.

Happy Easter

A bit belated but Happy Easter, Thursdays Mail produced this egg, eggcellent!

Feeding Now

Good news, as of Monday evening the ewe lamb is feeding off the mother but still comes running when I appear, looking for a bottle.

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Lambing 2021

First Lamb on a Very Wet Day.

This wee one arrived at the feed this morning, both Mother and her absolutely soaking, born overnight, so that is us underway. Callie’s tup delivered, all good.

Mum and Daughter

Sunday afternoon the low pressure came in and it started raining, it never stopped until this morning, at times so heavy it was rattling off the roof.

Wet at the Feed

The burns were running, the field was just a sponge and it was cold, here was me praying we had no lambs.

Ditches Full

The sheep were pretty hungry but once they had their feed they were off to the forest.

Grey Day Yesterday

Yesterday was our Wedding Anniversary, 6 years married. I had planned to go to Portree as the anniversary present was in the post but that was scuppered with the gale. Hoping to make it tomorrow though.

Trapped on the Cliffs

Spot the Ewe!! If you can see it, this Ewe is an escapee, it prefers Dry Harbour to Big Harbour. I caught it a couple of weeks ago then it disappeared again. I found it to-day. It has tried to get out along the shore/cliffs but is now stuck. So when the weather calms down we’ll go in the boat and persuade it to go back up into the field. That will be fun.

Back to The Day Job

So that was to-day, I had plans to fix the hatch in the ceiling at the Lodge and it is almost there. But Lambing took over and I spent most of the morning getting the lambing bag together, checking the Ewes out and getting prepared for the the whole of April. The Tup was only here for a short time so we know the dates and that will mean a quick lambing we hope. Fingers crossed that the last three day Monsoon will be the worst of it but I see it is going to be pretty cold this weekend and into next week.

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March Part Two

After yesterday’s (Sunday) hold ups blog posting, here we go again. Just the ongoing story to-day, not much Wildlife movement. Weather is crap. Enjoying Lockdown but missed our holiday this year like everyone else but we are lucky in where we live, with no one here we have the place to ourselves. We are used to it and it is just about to come to an end, to-day it is a grey, wet, gale, with rain.

Back to earlier this month.

Early Morning Portree

It was good to get a trip over in the boat to Portree on one of the good days earlier this month. Rubbish run and all the bits and pieces you need time to get in Portree when not rushing. Especially a bacon roll from ‘Relish’ in Wentworth street.

Fuel Delivery

That Friday Ewen on ‘Seaflower’ took over our final delivery of Kerosene for this winter/spring. I topped up the tank the next day at the Lodge and when filling the tank I remembered that last time it was nearly empty the central heating shut down. The problem was water. So I quickly stopped filling and reversed the pipes clearing out the bottom of the tank before filling. That was an interesting exercise.

Dirty Fuel

I was astonished to take three drums of dirty fuel out of the tank, I don’t know where it came from but have my suspicions. They will settle and we will get some out of it as fuel out here is pretty precious. The dirty water I’ll have to deal with accordingly.

Growing Out of Stone

Weekends lately have been quieter than usual with no guests. It has been good to get out and have walks round the forest and other areas where we have not been for some time. In this case through the woods to the East side just above Dry Harbour. This is described in Duncan MacSwan’s article as fields. I’m sure it is quite common in the West Coast but we have a lot of trees, mostly Birch growing on top of rocks, posts and in a gutter (now cleaned). A small hollow that moss has grown in and created a small area of mulch for the seeds to get going, I love the way the roots spread, holding onto their base.

Old Willow

We have many of these almost ‘ancient’ Willows, they are quite common with some colossal specimens but invariably they get too heavy and fall down. Really fascinating trees.

Stag Checking out the Trail Cam’

Taking advantage of the walk we positioned the camera where I know the stags pass, only this one young fellow having a look at the camera. (The camera has a glitch that the date does not reset on removing the card).

The Night Owl

We have many owls here, I’ve never gone out of my way to see what we have but I have seen Barn Owls, Tawny Owls (I suspect above) and I am sure I put a Short Eared Owl out of the heather one day. This guy has obviously spotted something in the grass.

A Pair of Woodcock

Finally in the bird stakes from that stance a pair of Woodcock which was nice to see. We moved the camera but no luck at the next site, hopefully better on the next move.

On the Move

Great to see and it gives us a good idea of what is moving about at night when the animals are best left alone to get on with it. And at night I can get on with making things. This last month Lorraine asked for steps to get to the books and stuff on the high shelves.

Painters Steps

So I made her ‘Painter Steps’. A first try and maybe a bit heavy, she can hardly move them, so back to the drawing board.

March Grey Days

That is the blog up to date. I have missed out lots of things that have happened in the sporadic blogs of the last few years. What with a house build, new folk here working with us and the strange Covid times it has been difficult to concentrate on Posts at night when I usually do them. But I have a few projects up my sleeve. Hopefully the momentum will continue and I’ll get these posts up.

The Red Deer page is next with reports and records to be posted but the good weather is coming, lambs are certainly coming and for sure the visitors are definitely coming.

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