It seems we are never to have the same weather two days running. As beautiful as yesterday was, today is horrendous. The wind is up to gale force again and the skies are grey.
Not to be deterred, however, we set forth in Bessie and drove around the coastal roads in search of anything new.
In the bay near the campsite the waders were standing with their backs to the wind – see featured image above- and the Eider Duck’s feathers were ruffled. Only the Herring Gull still managed a graceful take-off.
Opposite the Co-op in Solas there are some white wild flowers growing on the verge but I can’t find out what they might be. Any ideas?
There are cows of all colours here on the islands and there’s aways a handsome bull with his harem of ladies and offspring around him.
On our way back to the campsite, I spotted this Golden Plover in her ‘ermine coat’, the first we have seen since Barra. She seemed to be on her own, although I doubt it somehow.
Just before the campsite we found a turning with a signpost proclaiming views of St Kilda, the remote island famous for its seabirds. The narrow road lead us higher and higher up a very steep hill (Cleitreabhal )with mammoth drops to the side. Near the top is a viewpoint, opened in 2009, with a telescope where you can get good views of the surrounding countryside and a misty view of St Kilda.
At the very top sits a MOD missile warning station, looking like something from The Prisoner!
Back down to earth again, we encountered a herd of cows in the road but they very decorously walked on to the grass verge to pass us.
We saw our first Curlew of the trip and the Shoveler who had made it out onto the water.
The coastline near the campsite gives a good indication of the weather:
We had been looking forward to a special RSPB Corncrake evening at 9pm and, in spite of the terrible conditions, dressed in every possible piece of weather protection we owned and met up wih Brian, the RSPB Corncrake Officer, at the centre. We were the only fools to turn up and so we set off with Brian to search for these elusive birds. It is his job, apparently, to keep track of all the Corncrakes in the Western Isles and he is affectionately known, amongst his peers as “Captain Corncrake” (he has quite a nautical look) and goes out in the season between midnight and 4am to track them down. The males hide in the vegetation and “call” for a female to join them in the early hours. The noise is like someone running their nails down a comb and, although I have heard it at various times during this adventure, we have not yet seen one.
We set off down the road although Brian was relatively pessimistic about seeing anything. He has a strong Brummie accent even after twenty-odd years of living in the Uists. It was sometimes difficult to hear him in the gale that was blowing and the sleet that was hitting our faces, but we kept going and it was interesting to hear his tales of island life. He and his wife love it here and haven’t regretted the move one bit.
He thought that he heard the call at one point but no, there was nothing to be seen. It is light here until about 10.30pm at this time of year but dusk was falling by the time we got back. We must have walked a couple of miles but amazingly we weren’t tired at all in spite of the prevailing conditions. No Corncrakes but we wouldn’t have missed it and Brian seemed to have enjoyed our company too.
Sublime landscapes. I particularly like the header photo and the curlew in flight. Do you think your fitness levels have improved whilst on your adventure? Looking forward to the next instalment.
Not as much as we expected Sean – the weather at times has meant we managed to see more in Bessie than on foot! Hopefully that situation will improve from now on!
Have you uploaded your flower to i-spot? I’m sure you’ll get an identification from there.
I’ve caught up eventually. I’ll try and keep up-to-date from now on. 🙂