Autumn

October 8, 2020

I'm sitting here with a cup of coffee as it gets light enough to count the greylag geese in the field

outside. There are forty seven of them. In the half light I began to doubt my identification skills, as

their white rumps seemed such a brilliant white that I couldn't believe they were the old familiar

birds that are so often here. Their necks seemed a little longer too. Canada geese? They do

sometimes visit, but not usually in such large numbers. It's a little lighter now, and they are

definitely greylags – just joined by about another dozen.

They are enjoying pecking around the mown grass for insects. It wasn't entirely my plan, but

Robbie topped the fields last weekend and left the cuttings behind. They will be good to feed the

growing grass, and the remaining grass is a little longer than usual so there will be something to

feed Kirsty's ponies, Ruby and Dulcie, over the winter and they won't need so much hay. But that's

not ideal for the wild flowers that I have been nurturing. They don't like the competition of really

healthy grass.

The meadows were glorious this summer – a sea of yellow buttercups with a pinkish red haze of

flowering grass above it. Earler in the year I noticed the wild hyacinths (or bluebells, as they are

callled in England) are gradually spreading further into the bottom of the field.

Wildlife has really benefitted from the peace and stillness of lockdown earlier in the year together

with a warm spring, and for once I had the time to notice much more. I was able to spent more time

in my new fenced garden too, and it was lovely to hear the bees and hoverflies buzzziing around in

a large patch of borage. I have been surprised at just how much insects and butterflies have enjoyed

the verbena bonarienses – and how late in the season this is still happening. Oh, and a wren nested

under the bonnet of the old mower that is lurking in a corner awaiting disposal.

The first sunshine of the spring had the herons – about half a dozen of them – lined up on the side of

the island that faces the chalets, stretching their wings and enjoying the warmth of the sun. I can see

one now standing on the promentary facing west, but he's working – well, standing very still,

looking intently into the water for fish - not sunbathing.

Earlier in the week a guest showed me a photograph of four dead squid on the beach, one with the

tentacles chewed off. When he next looked they had all disappeared. I wonder if that was anything

to do with the herons or perhaps the otter?

There are buzzards around and one seems to be making himself very much part of the scenery. He

seems to have a favourite fencepost in front of the chalets, and sits there for long periods before

swooping on unsuspectiing small creatures. Perhaps that's because Robbie left a bit of longer grass

just there and it's somewhere for the mice and their friends to hide? I was intrigued to see the

buzzard on a different fence post the other day with a hooded crow on the next one along. Only a

few days ago there seemed to have been crow hysteria, mainly in and around the trees in Bishop's

Grave wood. About thirty of them were very noisily and busily flying around, and they were doing

much the same iin the trees between my house and the burn. That sort of behaviour often means

they are mobbing a buzzard.

Guests have told me in the last couple of weeks that they have seen an eagle (a sea eagle?) and that

there was a seal in the loch just near the island. That doesn't surprise me – earlier in the year our

resident key worker guest gave up fishing one morning as he said there was too muuch competition

from a seal that had frightened away the fish.

And last night I was on my way up to bed, but ended up sitting by the open patio door with a cup of

tea trying to make out the shapes of two rutting stags in the moonlight.

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Address: Roshven Chalets, Lochailort, Inverness-shire PH38 4NB Email: chalets@roshven.com Tel: 01687 470221
 
 

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