Snowy Start To The Year

Just after New year the first signs of snow coming arrived, colder, East wind turning North. So we woke up on the 8th of January to just a few centimetres of snow but enough to be exciting, we do not get many snowy days on Rona, being as we are not much above sea level.

Hungry Sheep

Tough on the sheep but it would not last long so the plan then was to feed them, check them over and head out to see Rona under snow and for me to try to spot some deer, just checking on the numbers.

Clouds Over The Holiday Cottages

Over to the cottages on the start of my early morning outing, not a lot of marks/tracks on the road which told me the snow had not been there that long. There was a mark of an otter at the top gate. I guess I could have followed it but it was good to see the tracks and I suppose it was having its morning wash in fresh water. I left it alone.

Posties Path to the North

I headed up North into the wind, left the bike and headed up to the highest point. The view was fantastic but the disappointing thing was that the deer were nowhere to be seen, my count still in single figures with only a couple of stags disturbed whilst driving.

Looking Out to Torridon From the North of Rona

More marks up top in the heather though of disturbed deer that must have heard me or were just on the move.

Looking West to Skye

Over on the West side I did see one solitary hind standing very still in a birch clump, trying to hide but easy to see which told me where all the deer were, deep in the forest.

Excellent Book

Talking about forests, here is a book I read over New Year. A fascinating account of life on a highland Estate by retired Head Stalker, Duncan MacLennan on the Glen Afaric Deer Forest. What a wonderful history of observation and folklore recorded in this book. It is a good read and valuable reference to the way it was in his time. The most interesting chapter was the last where he gives his interpretation on the decline of many of our species which is applicable all over Scotland and why (I totally agree). The book is in short supply but I got two for gifts from Cannich Stores and hear that Morrison’s of Beauly have some.

Sunny Sunset

Back to the day, it was a cold trip out on the bike, my deer count was very low. I saw more from the car on one trip on my way to Dry Harbour this week

Work In Progress

It was nice to see the snow but good to see it go and despite the condensation in the shed dripping on everything I had to get back there to continue with the resurrection of the old Lister TS2. The alternator on this generator burnt out (rusted) three years ago. We replaced it with the idea to rebuild it as a spare. Now that the new TS2 we installed at Big Harbour has developed a serious oil leak it was time to replace the alternator and get it ready for the day we repair the oil leak. A good job for winter days.

Just What I Do Not Need

Not such a good job is the continuing deterioration of the steel hydraulic pipes on the JCB. I saw a drip and on investigation found it was the most inaccessible set of pipes that had rusted to the point of leakage.

Horrible

Not a good discovery, having replaced one set before with rubber pipes, it looks to me like a complete set of rubber replacements are necessary. Joy, I guess there will be a few cold hours lying underneath the JCB  shortly!!!!

 

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Another Glorious Day in Splendid Isolation

Well, here we go again. Another lockdown, another month of no visitors, plans on hold, cottage visitors and Mark our ‘Winter’ stalker stood down. When will it end. For us, no problem but for others we feel for them. I would go mad stuck in a city during these times and we are very aware how lucky we are not to be plagued by masks, gel, two metres and social distancing (until someone arrives).

MV Seaflower First Trip of 2021

To-day we had the last of the Christmas mail delivery, masks on gloves on as we prepared for Ewen and Janice to arrive. But it was a really cold dawn that greeted me when I woke up this morning.

A Cold Sky

It was a promise of a good day though despite the cold. We lost one of our Gimmers yesterday in the severe cold night, which is always a downer, the biggest one in the 11 of course. But onwards as they say. I fed the sheep this morning and the daughter of the famous ‘Julie’ did not disappoint. All Gimmers accounted for.

Okay What’s in Here?

Julie’s Daughter for sure

Julie was our semi tame hind, now deceased and it is obvious that she had taught her daughter very well on where to find the sheep nuts.

Mexican Standoff

There was a bit of a stand off for a while but the sheep lost interest and Julie 2 went back to cleaning up.

Torridon Crisp This Morning

Going over to Dry Harbour with fuel to-day I never get tired of the views that unfold.

Looking out To Harris

Round the next corner and we could see the Clisham, on Harris clear as a bell.

From Behind the Escape Cottage

Finally to Escape to deliver 400 litres of Kerosene and the view of the Trotternish Ridge was crisp too, stunning.

Another Load of Rona Venison for Skye

Just on lunchtime MV Seaflower arrived, lots to unload, a new cooker for Skyescape (now knocked into one cottage ‘The Mission House’), Sheep feed, Mail, lots of it and shopping.The afternoon warmed up in the very hot sun, lots of Vitamin D for sure and then it was time for Seaflower to leave and the sun to go down.

Another Gorgeous Night.

It looks like it will be a different story tomorrow but it was really great to get a spell of good weather at last, makes up for the months of grey.

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The New Year and Happier Days Ahead.

Hogmany, Too Cold for the Kilt

Happy New Year to all from Rona, on Hogmany it was Baltic so the kilt was left in the cupboard.

On Leaving The House

Been good clear nights here, very cold though with the full moon, the high pressure and the East wind.

Looking West

Looking West it looked grim on Skye during one of our walks but looking East, not so bad.

The Torridon Range.

Been a tough lead up to Christmas. The weather was poor to say the least, very wet and grey. The sheep were not liking it. Lots on and by the time Christmas came we were knackered. Bordering on exhausted. So we looked forward to this time very much.

Looking South From the Mast

So for the last fortnight we have been taking it a lot easier, trying to get in a walk every day.

Low Sun at Doire na Guile

Rona is not a big place but you can go the same walk time and time again and it is always refreshing, with new tings to see everytime. Sadly the deterioration of the ruins but we cannot re-build them all.

Shadows

This week up until to-day we have not had a lot of rain, a touch of snow one day and rain through the night but for a change a good bit of sun, bring on the vitamin D.

Sadly our guests Lisa and Linzi could not come due to Covid for New Years week, what a bummer in such a good week but the weather for the ferry was dodgy on the Sunday, they may have had problems getting here that day anyway but Covid finished it.

Missing The Weather

We took a walk up to the mast yesterday to check it over for ‘Applenet’, all good, nothing much to it to be honest but, there will be rusting stays to replace one of these days. No hurricanes lately although we did find a blade from the time that one wrecked the wee Rutland? windmill. embedded into the ground.

South again

One side of Rona was snowing (yesterday) the other glorious sunshine.

Blue Day

But to-day it was wall to wall sunshine, such a lift and we will take that anytime, cold though, very cold.

Hinds guarding the JCB

This morning the hinds that come down overnight to eat the sheep’s grass were in no hurry to return to the hills around Big Harbour.

South of Rona, An Tempuill

It has been good walking this last week or so but to-day was quite special. Down South we sat for a while and just took it in.

Steaming North West

I was surprised to see a yacht out in the Inner Sound, looking at the AIS the yacht had traveled from Duntulm? A bit early for the season but a lovely day for a sail.

Fish Farm Cargo Maybe

The fishing and cargo boats are starting to move, wonder what the year will bring for them.

A lovely end to the day.

All in all a good Festive Season for us, quiet just the way we like it. Tomorrow back to work and as usual plenty to do.

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Christmas Rush

Yesterdays post was about the first three weeks in December but in the last week it was as busy as all three put together apart from the boat trips I had to Portree. The weather had been poor, no surprise there at this time but with an odd weather window it was imperative to get over stores, mail and sheep feed before Christmas.

Rona venison Delivery

I mentioned our trip to Portree for shopping, we were also selling too. We tried to get our Rona Venison onto Skye Free Adds/FB page but they would not allow it stating it went against the rules. We searched but could not find any rule to say you could not. But hey ho, we’ll get on with it and thank goodness for Dan’s Chip shop who has sold hundreds of Rona Venison Burgers in his chip shop this year.

Selection of Vacuum Packed Cuts

Here’s a wee selection of what we do, I’ll have more photos up on the Rona Food page soon. All four freezers are full too.

Back to the day job and it was more issues with the power. This time Dry Harbour.

Dead Battery Cells

On checking the Sg readings of every cell on the batteries,  I found two dying cells on the Rolls batteries at Big Harbour, this was part of the problem there. Regular checking of all the cells of the Rolls batteries (three cells per unit) would have shown this but we were only checking the middle cell, Doh! So once I had found that I decided to check the Dry Harbour batteries. Fortunately I had old batteries from BH stored there when the Rolls ones had arrived three years ago and despite sitting there off charge some of them were still good. So after quite a few checks I found three duds and replaced them. Equalised them and now we are running well. With proper checks now all should do well. Fingers crossed.

Stand In Stardust

Ewen was busy at the Fish Farm so I decided I’d go myself to Portree on the Wednesday before Christmas, but the forecast was not looking good on the day.  I was in the middle of butchering two hinds, so, I called Dan in the morning arranged Mike to gather stuff and would he come over.

Urgent Stores

He kindly obliged and unbeknown to me a delivery of wine had arrived at Skye Express, so 44 cases x 6 later we had a Wine lake!! There was much mail and food but the most important thing was the two replacement Rolls batteries.

Rolls Batteries

I was as pleased to see them as I was the wine and they are now fitted, working well.

I Hate Drones

It was kind of Dan to step in but I was not too sure about Campbell’s Drone which arrived too. But after a quick demonstration and a few aerial photos taken  I was impressed with this quiet drone, not like the ‘wasps’ I have seen and heard here. But they are not good for the wildlife having seen birds abandon nests due to Drone disturbance by a certain ‘Yachtie’!!!

Burger Production

Before they had come I had minced up 24 kg of venison, I mixed it and chilled it down so that next day (Christmas Eve) myself and Lorraine would be making 257 burgers, half for Dan’s Chippy, the other for sale. The Lodge kitchen works as a ‘factory’ just now but next years plan is to build onto the larder.

Venison Pet Food

We are particular with our burgers and we have quite a lot of trimmings from the butchering. Rhona Campbell our Vet has kindly promoted our trimmings (minced) for dogs who have  problems with manufactured (especially dry) foods. We have a few customers and keep them going with our Venison Trimmings minced.  Zero waste. In fact I have been asked if it is good enough to eat, yes but no, just leave it with the dogs!!!!

240 Burgers

The burgers are individually frozen then packaged the next day, quite an operation but after 1000 burgers made at least  this year, not a problem. They are here now ready to go off to Dan’s Chippy as soon as the weather allows.

Miserable Christmas Day

So we are up to date, as far as can be, Christmas Day, Wind Down. But on Rona you cannot 100% do that. The sheep need fed and when we woke up on Christmas morning it was foul, it was the first time that the sheep (hoggs) had taken shelter in the shelter. I fed them and was just on my way back to the house when I saw an escapee Ewe. Being Christmas Day I wasted no time catching it then this time back to the house.

Opening Christmas Presents

The mail bags had been pretty full so with great excitement the presents were opened, many lovely things and too much as always. Dinner prepared then a pre-dinner walk was in order. As we walked down to the Lodge I spotted another three sheep out of the fenced area. It never ends. So instead of chasing them as they took off into the forest. We had our walk and thought we would try on the way back. As it happened we found a gate that had blown open up top so that was their escape route. I tied the gate and we walked down the path to find the three Ewes by the bottom gate again. This time they were kind and ran into a corner. I sorted out some gates and quickly got them in. Panic over, now we could enjoy our Turkey. Merry Christmas.

The Escapees on The Run

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A Busy End To The Year

Leading up to the end of the year it is always a rush, a finality to it by getting all the jobs done in time for Christmas. This year end has been no different in that way but completely different in others. I see it was the 7th of December I had the last post, we will rectify that right now.

Late Winter Watery Sunset

It has been weeks of grey again but when the sun has made an appearance all the grey fades away.

Mr Tup returning to Skye

Mike and Lorraine were over staying in the Lodge with us for a week earlier this month and it was good to get a hand with Mr Tup the first job to do, he had been busy with the ewes. He was most upset to be caught, bundled into the trailer/boat and off to Portree, especially in mid chase!!!

Erlet on Fladda

Called into see Erlet and John in Fladda on our way back, they had been in isolation there returning home when Lockdown was lifted but were back up as soon as it was possible for them.

Unloading the Stores

We were back in time to catch the tide and quickly unloaded the boat, Mike on banksman duties.

Firewood Stock Up

The firewood stock was diminishing so a bit of a fill up took a full day and chopping for a few hours of the next, the store was almost full after this lot. We managed a few more jobs but their visit was over too soon.

Xmas Dinner

That night Mike and Lorraine were up for Christmas dinner, second for us of the season.

Grey Day But Beautiful

Next morning, early after arranging another fuel pick up at Portree we took off, the weather forecast was bad for the week-end so we elected to take our guests home. It was a peaceful trip, grey but the clouds everywhere were pretty special.

Looking North to Holm

It was a perfect day and good run back to Rona. Winter days like this I would rather spend on Rona doing something, probably stalking but you cannot be in two places at once, especially single handed.

Looking South to the Cuillins

But it is equally as pleasant having a boat trip so no complaints.

Oops! Nearly forgot the stores.

Ok having the boat trip but nearly forgetting to catch the tide just before dark is not on. It was late when I remembered that I had to unload the boat and the tide was around the tractor/JCB tyres. No worries though and all unloaded with no problems.

Power Issues

Since August I have been monitoring the power at our end of the Island. I was aware of an oil leak on the generator, the alternator seemed to be acting up but just could not put my finger on it.

What’s Going on in Here?

I checked out this and that, unfortunately it was not apparent when we were ultra busy on the conversion of the two small cottages into one. Otherwise Calum could have dealt with it but with phones and emails (for advice) I set to work.

Up and Running

First thing to do was to get the old generator going. Myself and good pal Brian put the new alternator onto the old generator engine in the first two weeks of November, Calum wired it up in December. I finished it off and ran it up for 6  then 8 hours, powering the larder at that time with two hinds chilling in it. It ran well so now I had a back up plan.

Late Sun

Working at the genny shed it was poor weather so I was surprised when I stepped outside to phone to find the sun bursting through after a particularly wet afternoon.

Bound for a Day Out

In the week before Christmas with the generator now ready to replace the main one it was no problem to head off to Portree for blood tests and shopping, the weather was good but looking at the forecast we thought better to ask Ewen and Janice to take us over and back. Much more pleasant that the Alu’ boat (and safer for Lorraine!!).

Quick Shopping Trip, Then Home

It is not easy to see here but the sky that morning and Clouds were amazing, a good relaxing day, dashing about Portree.

Next Day

The weather next day was nothing like the forecast, it did blow a ‘Hooley’ at 3pm precisely just after we got back and MV Seaflower got most of the way to Portree. I’m noticing that there has been occasions this year (and in the past) when out of nowhere a great wind arrives invariably with heavy showers, not necessarily from the direction the Met office say, quite worrying if out with a load heading to Rona say. So it is important that we study forecasts for Rona trips, the Voe Alu’ boat is good but we could do with a more comfortable boat for Rona, I’m looking!!!

More tomorrow.

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A Day Out to Portee

It was a good day to-day, probably the last for a wee while but nice to have such a calm spell. Always welcome in December.

Sunrise over Arinish

I was up early after a weekend of generator woes.

Red Cuillins

Headed down the ‘Sound’ at first light, porpoises popping up which was a surprise, there was a wee jabble and a big swell, a sign of what is coming. 40 minutes later I was in Portree and it was -1.I defrosted the car thanks to Angus the Harbour Master and set about the shopping list, being careful to avoid the horrible Traffic Wardens of Somerled Sq. Picked up Mike and Lorraine who are over to help us for a week. Loaded with some fuel (and their hens!!!) then back to Rona.A bigger lift on the way back but a good sail, sun splitting the sky, I was chatting to Calum about power issues most of the way back. As we came to the top of Raasay we did see stags on the Ailean Tighe shore and on the tops of Rona but not a lot of sealife on the return.Back into the harbour and the tide was perfect for a drop off at the landing stage we built for the landing craft. Saves walking up and down the gangway. But we had the fuel to lift of with the JCB, so just perfect.Over to Dry Harbour at last light to check on the cottages and generator shed, the views as usual never disappoint.

Roll on tomorrow, Firewood!!

Here are a few Sunsets from the last while.

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

A Day in The Life of……….

Jim my Northern Irish friend wonders why I am not posting regularly like I used to, I wish I had the time Jim. So I had an idea last night to photograph my every move to-day. Or at least try to. I kept forgetting.Up at 5.45am,  couldn’t sleep with the excitement of a trip to Portree. Not quite, the wind was howling, the rain sleet against the windows, then the shower cleared and the moon came out.It was so bright, if it had been calmer I would have taken off earlier but I could not see the sea, it certainly did not sound too good.

Ran the tap and fed the cat, the pump started making funny noises which sounded like the water had run out, on with the working gear checked the pump, went out to check the tank, the sleet came back on, but thankfully the tank was full. Checked the pump but can’t work it out. It seems to be working. Must get a spare pump.

Still only 6am and my boots had suffered this last while, can’t go to Portree with muddy boots!! Does anyone polish (or attempt to polish) shoes anymore.

Checked out the weather, it still felt a bit windy.

Venison orders are coming in for Christmas, we have a few regulars and with the current situation with Covid the only thing to do is to butcher all our deer and sell them locally. We usually put away half to the Game Dealer. So it was good to get a couple of orders for Portree to-day. Fed the sheep and ewe lambs, then gathered up the rubbish, fuel tanks and empty gas cylinders, then time for the boat.Got the boat in to the pontoon, in the dark then loaded it up and then back to the house to pick up the mail.Of around 8ish, the wind dropped off completely just about then, there was a bit of a jabble left but it was fine, wind dropping. It was cloudy but clearing, the promise of a good day.The joys of Portree, dump the re-cycling, pick up gas for Fladda, then fuel up after picking up the post, lots of post. Heading for 10.30am by this time. Back to the boat to load up, shift the boat the tide was dropping then fuel up for the return journey. Back to the filling station to fuel up the empty can, then down to the Bank.Met up with friends from Shieldaig for a quick coffee which became expensive after the local traffic warden left a wee yellow envelope on my windscreen. The parking place where I always park is now a Taxi rank, great!! Where’s the sign? Oh! under the slush on the road.Did the shopping, then all the other bits and pieces, the kids were out from school so it must have been 1’ish. Parked the car and then off to Fladda to drop the gas off.Passed James trawling home I guess.Turned into Loch a Sgurr, then into North Harbour at Fladda.Of course the tide was perfect!! But we have a system for unloading, so half an hour with John and Erlet who are enjoying a late stay on Fladda then off home.It was starting to get dark but there was no wind just a clear cool late afternoon leaving North Harbour.Some special clouds to-day, lots of weather out there.Lorraine was waiting to help unload the boat, the tide perfect again!! Lots of stuff and I wondered as I was taking the last box up. How many times in 18 years have I been up and down this gangway.Boat back on the mooring, the forecast is grim.

Up to the house with two sacks of mail, it must be Christmas time, it was nice to see a bright crisp evening instead of rain.Put the shopping away.Opened the mail. Lots of it, ebay was busy, Amazon too, how did we ever manage.Been a beautiful day, just another day on (or off) Rona am getting tired now at 9pm.

More this weekend coming though.

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August Days -Catch Up.

Big storm this weekend, the windows are fairly bending in the new house ‘Tigh na Creag’. So far no damage seen but we have not been to Dry Harbour yet.

Although the mink or otter had one (so far) of our hens yesterday, we have seen this before when a storm is in full flow, the critters are out and about. Traps will be set.

But it is a good day to catch up a wee bit more on the blog.

Here we are looking back to August. Whilst doing the blog it is nice to look back at the photos taken and remembering the good days.As I write to-day in a full gale with rain of course, it is a good reminder of good days past, good to come.

Looking North to Torridon and Gairloch

This was a day out stalking up in the North end of Rona mid month, a clear crisp morning just as the Quinetic helo’ was heading into the Base.

Foggy Days

Of course it was not all good days and after a couple of days of glorious sunshine it was no surprise to see fog rolling in.

Red Deer Local Family

The deer around the house don’t care about fog and at this time they know they are safe, this group stuck together around the new house until lately, when the rut took over their lives.

A Good Year for Calves

I hear it was a good year for calves elsewhere and we did see more than usual this year, so it is nice to know we have a healthy herd.

Dramatic Skies

The weather is everything here and it is interesting seeing the different cloud s rolling in, this one looked menacing but it was, I remember, a good day later.

Fladda Ladda

It is not all Rona work this month and it was good to get off Rona to do a wee job for our neighbours, John and Erlet who live on Fladda. Their landing on Fladda is getting difficult so we volunteered to make a ladder from timber left from the new house. It is finished now and in use.

RIB Outings

Although we used the aluminum boat for the work we had a few trips out in the RIB, very quick and on a good day perfect for watching wildlife. Also good for doing doughnuts I’m sure much to the annoyance of the visors in the bay!! (it wasnae me).

Serene Evening

But we would draw the line at disturbance on nights like this, we had many  in the 2020 summer.

Mystery Object

To-day’s mystery object, this came up on the outside of one of our creels, I think from deep water. Now I found out what it was but cannot remember. Maybe by the end of the blog I’ll remember. Pretty weird and prehistoric looking. Mystery Object!

Sheep Off Fuel On

Work goes on, not all fishing and play. Off to Portree to catch the sale, 4 older Wedders on board. The price was getting better so here goes. Two drums for fuel on board, a busy day ahead.

Breuchie’s van

Although we catch plenty fish we do not catch kippers, Cod, Scallops or herrings, so Breuchie (Skye Fish), in Portree Co-op car park is the best, especially the smoked haddock, great for Cullen Skink. So part of the shopping on a trip to Portree is a must stop at the fish van.

Returning Home

Fuel loaded and shopping done, back to Rona. The price was indeed good for the Wedders. As was the price of the Kerosene but not as cheap as lockdown days.

Foggy Days return

Another Saturday changeover, this time fog issues. MV Seaflower made a slow journey out to us, the fog very thick and visibility not very far at all.

Clear Days

But it went away and again the sun shone, Yacht visits were just over 100 Yacht overnights this year and those that did venture out had many good days.

Water Woes

The biggest drama in August was that the water supply ran out at the holiday cottages and with full occupancy it turned out to be a real issue. In fact it took me until September to get it fully filled again. But after many years of talking about it we have now installed early warning systems. We are of course usually checking water levels but this month it was missed for some reason. First week in September the tank finally came to the top. A sigh of relief.

Another Fine Day

The month continued and the sunsets got better. Despite lockdown it had been a good weather year and the season when it did start was quieter with visiting boats for sure but by August it was as normal with the day boats from Portree becoming regular visitors. The weather was kind of course and we could not open our wee shop to sell venison and the other odds and ends we do but those that knew about the venison called me up and I duly delivered it to the Pier.

Busy Bay

With the Lockdown affecting every aspect of our life it was no surprise for there to be issues with the Deer Management. One thing that happened was that the market for venison virtually collapsed. So it was really great to get a call from the ‘Chippy’ on the Pier asking if I could do some venison burgers for them to try. So many hundreds of burgers later delivered to Dan’s  chip shop we had opened up a new avenue for Rona Venison. I hear they were very popular with the visitors.

Quality Carcass

That in turn encouraged me out onto the hill to look for good quality venison, not hard to find at this time as the deer have summered well. This fellow was up North, a big stag. In tip top condition.

The Best Summer Venison.

It is not very often you see so much fat on a Red Deer carcass. The reason is that not a lot of deer are normally shot at this time of the year, certainly hill deer. Too hot, too far out, too hard to get them in without temperature issues. Most get shot in September/October, when a lot get exported to the European market. Sadly too many get shot out of season by the likes of the Contractors shooting for Forest Land Scotland (Formerly the Forestry Commission). Well out of season and well out of condition. Their policy of shoot to kill at any time of the year is in my opinion one of the biggest crimes against nature against one of our iconic Highland (Scottish) animals. I will blog more on this later on the Red Deer Page.

The Rest To Burgers

That is my rant over for to-day Sunday 1st November, but there is more coming. But back again to work, it was good to get back into the Lodge to produce our venison burgers. The large kitchen there makes a good ‘factory’ and we can knock out a few hundred burgers in a morning. Sausages too but I’m working on a new recipe at the moment, watch this space.

The Long View

So now I think only July to catch up on. It has been good as I previously said to look back on an interesting year, with many challenges. But despite natures efforts to tear Rona apart this morning and give us more work we are well up to date. Thanks to Lockdown everything this year that needed painting got painted, paths got maintained, the houses got a good going over and our new maintenance schedule is in place thanks to Calum’s expertise in Excell. My list over work to do in the future was greatly reduced. But a new one looms.

We are in a good place with the team we have working with us at the moment  and we look forward to next season where we have lots of bookings already and many plans for the coming years it is an exciting time.

We will be looking for enthusiastic people to come and join us on Rona early next year. Again, watch this space.

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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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