At Last, The Rut Is Underway!

After weeks of looking for stags (without much success) they have appeared. Seems they have been keeping a very low profile. All the usual suspects are here and a few new young ones showing some decent heads. A sure sign that the stags were about was when this calf arrived in front of the house looking for its mother, there was a stag about and it looked like they had been separated. Later on in the day I saw them together with the stag lying down, on a hillock above them.

Orphaned for the day.

Orphaned for the day.

The weather has been mixed but generally pretty good, some welcome rain too. The vegetation is very dry and most unusual to be worrying about fire at this time. Last Wednesday was a good day, weather very fine, Calum and Irene were out and about and dropped off the mail plus daily papers, much appreciated.

MV Kestrel Tied up for lunch.

MV Kestrel Tied up for lunch.

There has been an odd yacht about, surprisingly on holiday, seems a bit late especially during the Equinox when there is a good chance of poor weather. Others were just out for the day. We have been looking for some missing sheep so I took a walk around the SW corner. No surprise to see one of our sea ends non existent. I had found their escape route so next day it was a long walk with material to get it fixed. I made up my mind to sort out all the fences and finish the new fence, plus hang every gate. There is nothing worse than a gate that isn’t swinging!

The Non-existent Sea end

The Non-existent Sea end

That was good job for Friday and then after I did thatwe got on with preparing for the visitors coming to the cottages. The forecast was not too promising but Dan, (who was relieving Kevin and Pam), was upbeat. When we woke in the morning we really thought it was a no-go. Even phoning our guests to be prepared. However Dan had made up his mind to ‘have a go’ so nothing for it but to wait.

M V Stardust 2

M V Stardust 2

We saw him coming away out and although the wind was howling the boat looked pretty stable.

On time despite the gale.

On time despite the gale.

It was a grey day, a rain shower came with them but it was a following sea/wind. That helped for sure but the passengers were very upbeat and Dan reported a pretty stable return trip. I guess he was trying it out as it was the first bit of bad weather he had the opportunity to try the boat out on. We got our guests settled, told them all about the rut in progress and after sorting out a few things it was down to serious stag business. I took off in the afternoon to have a look around and was not disappointed.

Just Out of The Wallow

Just Out of The Wallow

It seems that late afternoon and early morning so far, the light has been pretty poor for taking pics’ of stags, but we try our best. I like to get as many pictures as possible to see who’s who. This guy has been about but I have not seen him since last year. He was holding a few hinds half way South but didn’t hang about when I appeared.

Taking Off, Smartish.

Taking Off, Smartish.

Next day (yesterday, Sunday) the sunrise was stunning, great light this time and the wind Westerly, so up to Dry Harbour early and there was plenty activity there. It is a great time to be out and about, early morning in the Autumn on Rona, no rifle just the binocs’ and the camera. I spied a stag with hinds over by the fishing shelf (where all the visiting fisherman go!!!! To catch fish????). I did not recognise it so decided to take a closer look. I stalked in on them after a fashion got quite close I then heard my first roar of the season. It was a little further than I thought so I stood up and walked forward, straight into this stag below.

Who Got The Fright

Who Got The Fright

I don’t know who got the biggest surprise but he did not hang around, a big stag quite old, he quickly disappeared. Of course I thought this was my stag but going round the next corner here was the ‘roaring stag’.

He was not for going.

He was not for going.

He was not for taking off for a few seconds but then he changed his mind and trotted off. Leaving the hinds wondering what was going on.

What's Up?

What’s Up?

Later in the day I headed over to check on our guests and they were sitting out front of the Escape cottage watching a big stag over on the peninsula across from Dry Harbour. We were also seeing our missing sheep eating seaweed on the rocks below him. I left our guests and came home to get Lorraine so that we could go and have a closer look at that stag, he did not look familiar. We headed over to the forest and over the hill to the cliff above the ‘field’. We spied our stag very quickly he had not moved, a Royal, we also saw 7 hinds and calves with him. We watched him for a while but with the day getting on we headed home, but not after catching the old ‘field/runrigs’ in the evening light.

'The Field'

‘The Field’

According to the papers we have, this particular area was a communal plot and every year the ground was rotated. But not rotated with crops, rotated through the community. So one year one family had a stretch the next they swapped. Quite an interesting way of sharing the land and I wonder if they put as much into it compared to actually owning it? It looks pretty good ground although it has not been worked possibly for 90 years. We headed back into the wind and found a family group, hind, calf and follower in the forest. As we came round into the view of Big Harbour, here was a yacht (Deep Purple) on the mooring. I had seen it before but could not remember the skipper.

Deep Purple

Deep Purple

The crew were just coming ashore when we got back to the Lodge. They had left their mooring fee in the post box and said they left a wee bit extra. They did not have time to go for a walk but said they would be back next year, I look forward to seeing them again. How nice it is when the visitors come straight up to the house and pay their dues. And even more heartening when the give a bit extra. Shame on those who use everything provided, not only here but all over the West. It never ceases to amaze me how some sailors pick up moorings and think they do not have to pay or contribute to the owner for their expense. It costs a lot of cash to put these moorings in and pontoons, they don’t make money for sure but a little cash goes a long way to offset some of the cost. Thankfully this attitude belongs to a very small minority and the majority are very considerate and of course very welcome. We look forward to seeing them next year.

Back to this morning, up early and off South, the first guy I bumped into was Eric, our old stag. Holding a few hinds he was trying to keep out of the way but I did manage a few pictures.

ELusive Eric

Elusive Eric

After a while he showed himself and then headed over the hill, probably to do battle with his swimming pal who I then picked up round the corner.

Eric's For The Off

Eric’s For The Off

I was wondering where ‘Eric’s’ mate had got to, they were together all summer on the Islands at the South end. They were quite far away and of course into the morning light but still at the early stages of the rut with not a lot of fighting or roaring yet. I’m sure it will get going for real by the end of this week.

Eric's Mate Skylined

Eric’s Mate Skylined

To-day has been a glorious day and these stags have been seen on the tops most of the day just surveying the scene, I guess.

For us too good a day for inside work for sure, although Lorraine has been putting the finishing touches to our new web site: www.isleofrona.com  and facebook   page and has been at the PC most of the day.

Have a look!!!!

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About Bill Cowie

I've been living on the island since April 2002, alone for the first 5 years, my partner L joined me in 2007. We manage the Island for a Danish family who bought the Island in the early 90's. Their hopes for the Island are to make it self sufficient supporting its inhabitants and that is where we come in. We look after the stock, 3 holiday cottages, machinery, boat and of course the visitors. It is pretty challenging but it is a beautiful place to live and work, we love it and strangely enough we love it even more in the depths of winter when all is quiet apart from the gales and rain. We do a bit of fishing, stock work, stalking deer and loads of other stuff. We have good support from lots of people whom we have met over the years and have become involved in the Island. Too many to mention here but keep an eye on the blog, they'll be there for sure in the future.
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