We have had some lovely calm days since the stormy weather of the other week. Today was such for a trip with Christmas Presents for friends at loch Buie. It’s a big hidden away serene place with as usual lots to tempt the imagination. With a big grey sand beach and silver sea stretching out to Jura and Islay. Innevitably we had one of those evocative Hebridean encounters on the way back, going past Loch Uisg. A mile ahead I could see a tourist a red deer or a golden eagle sitting across the loch on the skyline of a black peak which rose out of the water to a lofty height. But then I new it was the resident golden eagle for that area !! The eagle was now closer and dark against a darkening sky. To me it was as usual, all so poetic to encounter.
If I was the Queen giving my Christmas and New Year message I would get modern and say. In 2012 find your dream or the thing you most want to achieve in life. Focus and commit yourself totally to it. Whether its that career you always wanted, to travel the world, giving yourself to good works for the poor, adopting that needy child, finding that special home in that special place, or just taking the local kids for football training and maybe fulfilling their dream. Or just being with the love of your life. Because if you don’t go for it now you may always regret that you didnt even try.
If you think you’re a poet, artist, love the wild outdoors, or just a romantic, then Mull was the place for you today. With clear blue sky, winter sun, golden landscape, flat flat sea and snow capped mountains. Here in the north west of the Island it’s a good climate anyway and driving along Loch na Keal with no one about at all was simply lovely. After Gribbun Cliffs we climbed and found snow covered roads and more snow everywhere. Red deer were very low down, there were black and great northern divers, slavonian grebes, otter and in the heart of the winter wonderland of Glenmore two golden eagles that I know well were sitting together on a snowy mountain peak, another young golden eagle came breezing along a snowy ridge looking for a mate of its own but chased by the resident adult. It was just inspiring here today and visually as good as it could get anywhere in the World I would think.
On the ferry to Oban today on a lovely calm day with a fabulous sunrise over snow topped Ben More. Yesterdays wildlife trip was really good because Winter is best !! Having picked 3 people up at Salen we had a young sea eagle coming toward us within 5 minutes. Another 5 and an otter was sliding into the water, but we spooked him unfortunately. Then pretty close adult sea eagle at Grasspoint looking great as it lifted off. On toward Glenmore and a golden eagle sitting on a hillside, red deer stags, mergansers, seals etc. Spectacular view of a golden eagle up in dramatic elements and displaying as it looked for its mate. Great northern divers on loch scridain and majestic view of an adult female sea eagle lifting off a tree and putting up hundreds of birds, fallow deer, dipper, goldcrest and again lots of obvious things like ravens, kestrels, buzzards close etc. Mull seemed empty yesterday but stuffed full of atmosphere and spectacle.
By the nature of where I live I think that I’m a good barometer for anyone wanting an opinion on the worlds climate. Seeing the strange weather of sunny and windless from Christmas to June in 2010 and the diabolical weather of May this year, when it is always the best month of the year. Increasing wind strengths etc and looking abroad at natural catastrophes there, I have to say that anyone who does not believe that we humans are causing these changes to the climate, are a danger to the planet !! I don’t care about the idea that it may be a natural cycle. Surely we should err on the side of caution over this? I guess the big problem is that as most humans now live in cities and are so detached from their natural habitats, they just don’t really experience first hand what is going on out there.
Mull is calm again and it was a nice easy day for an explore so off in the forest to find crossbills ! A sea eagle was above the house as we set off and then two very close golden eagles raced along the hill behind the house, rock doves on the way down and still more blackbirds !! Are they as numerous down there this year too? Greenland white fronted goose at Kiliechronan and sea eagle coming into land with legs outstretched. A young sea eagle was up with buzzards and an adult sat out on the shingle beach, which always looks an arctic sort of scene. Plenty of buzzards, kestrels and a few sparrowhawks on the way. The forest was very quiet for some time until two crossbills flew over chattering away. They are the earliest nesting birds in Britain you know !!
Well this is The Hebridean Islands for you. It has been the most beautiful mirror calm day and should have been perfect for todays wildlife trip, but the family did not turn up!! It could not have been a better wildlife day after such diabolical weather which has stopped every creature from moving here. But never mind, there were lots of jobs to do after the storms. Looking from my office now I see this truly serene picture. The day is finishing with a golden flat sea, black and grey islands offshore and puffy clouds above Iona and a gorgeous orange sun setting behind the Island and the clouds, splaying out long shafts of golden sun. It all brings out the romantic artist in me. However I don’t really miss it because every day with nature and wild creatures satisfies the creative side in me now.
Well this may have been the most violently windy and wet day that I have ever seen on Mull. So much so that it flung a very heavy picnic bench off our decking and onto the grassland. The postie Tim arrived with welcoem mail and a newspaper because luckily the early morning ferry had at least sailed to Mull but at the door he shouted ”Your oil tank is sliding off its plinth”. So off Joy and I went hardly able to stand up to try and tie it down until tomorrow when its going to be better for the tank and a family out with me on a wildlife trip. The wind got hold of Joy and she couldnt stop herself being carried up our track until I jumped in front of her and rescued her. I have lost a few of our recycled Ballachulish slates from the roof but no big deal provided I can get the weather to put them back again. So WOW !!what a day for us all here but I worry for my widlife friends out there.
Well it’s been unusually wintry here and a disappointing few days as I had booked a hotel and places at the Wild Scotland Conference in Perth, which is the other side of the Highlands from here. I was flabbergasted to learn that the hotel we had booked for two days and had to cancel because of the snow forecasts, had charged the full amount of our two night stay. They say it would not matter if we were elderly and stuck in snow, had a family bereavement or flights cancelled, etc etc etc. They would still charge the full amount of the booking !! Thank God we didnt book for a week !! Seems there are ruthless people in all business’s these days and not just in banking. If anyone is thinking of a holiday in the Higlands next year emial me and take advice on where ‘NOT’ to stay !!
Its a fabulous atmospheric morning here with great sheeting showers out to sea and glimpses of Islands in the sun which then slowly disappear amid the rain. Out over Iona its pretty grey but as I write the rain is being chased off the Island and the South of Mull by gorgeous puffy clouds and blue sky, which will all arrive here in about 30 minutes. Winter is a photographers paradise here and I get lots of newly fledged photographers on my trips, that may have the new gear and big lenses etc but seemingly not the imagination to go with it all. To bo good at what you do you have to have more than just good equipment but be creative and artistic in your head and heart. Then you have to be ‘driven’ to be the best and because almost everyone else is so ordinary, you probably will be !!!