More about the featured image later!
This morning the plan was to head straight for the internet café in Lochboisdale, having first checked with Donald, the campsite owner, that it was still in business. The bright pink roof of the café/post office can be seen some distance away.
We made ourselves comfortable in the crowded café and tucked into some Rainbow cake (they make lovely cakes) and proceeded to put the blog posts for a couple of days online. Peter was in charge of updating the podcasts on the smaller laptop and all was going well, albeit slowly, with the blog when suddenly the well-known theme from The Archers came belting out! Covered with confusion and embarrassment, we hastily tried to turn it off, but even with the laptop lid down it carried on and in the end Peter had to hurry outside to shut it up! Later on, the alarm on my iPhone suddenly went off equally loudly. How embarrassing!
Blogs published and podcasts uploaded, we left Lochboisdale and, once we had negotiated the herd of sheep crossing the road, headed northwards to Benbecula.
Benbecula was once an island but is now joined to South Uist by a causeway. As with last year, there was quite a quantity of Mute Swans on the water to one side.
We decided to turn around and go back over the causeway, driving on until the turning to Loch Druidbeg came into sight. The Loch Druidbeg National Park covers much of this area of South Uist and Golden Eagles are often seen over the hills here. No such luck today, however, but the tiny ponies who live here were in evidence, as well, of course, as the sheep.
With their fat little tummies and abundant manes and tails, they are very different to normal ponies. If not the same they are, I believe, related to the Eriskay ponies. They are certainly very cute.
We drove up as far as we could until the road petered out at Loch Skipport. We walked to the end, carefully negotiating a peat bog, but were attacked by midgies so came swiftly back!
All around us the heather was starting to bloom and, what with the abundance of wild flowers and, of course, the ever-present yellow flag irises, there was plenty of colour.
Trees are rare and the ones that have survived are in a poor state. The advantage is that you are able to see any birdlife more easily.
This is the second cuckoo we have seen today but much the best photo!
From Loch Druidbeg it was a relatively short journey to Howmore (or Tobha Mhor in Gaelic) where there are the ruins of four or five chapels. Their exact age is not known but their character is reminiscent of early Irish Celtic monastic sites.
To get to them the footpath runs through an old croft which is now used as a youth hostel.
The War Graves Commission have sited some war graves here and the ruins are atmospheric.
A baby Meadow Pipit on the stone wall was sharply in focus in the crystal clear light here. Only the shadow of a wire overhead spoils the photo.
An old thatched crofter’s cottage gets the modern treatment with some skylights in the roof.
Along the road is a scrapyard with old vehicles. These two are interesting – an old Ford lorry and a Macbraynes coach, like the one we saw in Castlebay, but note the destination – Balamory! Not quite sure what to make of that…
Peter is good at spotting birds as he is driving along (!) and saw this male Hen Harrier swooping about over the heathland.
Mum and lamb stare down at us inquisitively from a rock.
There wasn’t much time to get down to the Polachar Inn for our evening meal. The light was spectacular and boys and girls from the wedding earlier were having a game in the car park as we arrived. Part of this inn has stood here for centuries and apparently was where Bonnie Prince Charlie ate his first meal on Scottish soil.
The old standing stone on the shore in front of the inn has been there even longer!
We had a wonderful meal in the inn – Barra scampi with chips followed by strawberries in a meringue basket. So tasty!
However, the final touch was still to come.
We sat in Bessie overlooking the rocks and the sea when Peter suddenly spotted something in the water. He was convinced it was an Otter but I was sceptical and thought it was probably a seal. Its head appeared regularly and sometimes its whole body and we got some far away shots. Then it disappeared altogether and we thought she (as it turned out to be) had gone when suddenly Peter saw her on top of a rock sticking out from the water further along. He grabbed the extra long lens and set off across the grass to get as close as possible. These pictures are just a few of the many he took…
Thinking that our evening’s wildlife spotting had ended, we headed back to the campsite just along the road, when we saw this other late night diner – a Short-Eared Owl flying over a field nearby.
The light was fading (it was about 10pm) but we managed to get these shots.
What a wonderful day!
AMAZING!!! What a wonderful day indeed! Great capture of the Otter diving into the water and a lovely shot of the Short Eared Owl to end the day. The Cuckoo shot is impressive too. My favourite landscape is the Standing Stone. Seeing an otter in the wild must have been such a thrill. There have been so many fantastic sightings I’d almost forgotten about Golden Eagles. Surely your destined to see one this time.
Thank you Sean – I knew you’d appreciate the otter shots. We felt privileged indeed. We now have wifi so I feel normal again – hoorah! I should be able to upload the posts so much quicker now. We’re up in North Uist now in the RSPB reserve again.
Are you able to Skype now then?
That’s a point! Are you in and if you are when’s good time to try?
Judy Beer said:
Adored the otter photos, lucky you
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Fantastic wildlife, but a questionable centre-parting hairstyle from pony no. 2!
He had just washed his mane and couldn’t do a thing with it!
Nice pics .. the small ponies at Loch Skipport are Shetland ponies and not at all related to Eriskay ponies.
Thank you Seamus – I am indebted to you for this information.
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