Saturday, 5 June 2010

Rain, rain and more rain

Rain, Lochans, Sea birds and OTTERS!!

Yep these forecasts are pretty damned accurate! It poured with rain all day! I’m lovely and dry in the van, with G/T being prepared, but the loo/sink area is full of wet cagoules, gaiters, over-trousers, and hats!! I’ll deal with them later. But as our friend Col says, there’s something very satisfying about going out in foul weather in good gear. As long as it doesn’t happen again tomorrow!
Never mind, at least we’re not cycling up thru the Hebrides in this, like several people we’ve met on the ferry and roads. We enjoyed our cycle on Barra and would do it again, but the romantic vision of cycling these islands is just that – a vision. Reality is a bit bleak on days like this, being passed by traffic on single-track roads, even though it is light. I suppose it might look different if the sun were shining, but there seem to be little in the way of refreshments and long, stark sections.
We decided to get geared up and do some twitching at Balranald RSPB reserve on Benbecula. Having heard what I thought might be a corncrake, a few nights ago, on Barra, I was feeling hopeful. It made a grating call, like a ratchetting screw-driver, or a toad with a sore throat. We hid in the shelter of the info building, and then braced ourselves. It was driving rain! 23deg back home!
We walked for 2 hours in the rain, but it was well worth it. Corn-buntings in the fields, then on well-marked footpaths out onto the promontory past nesting oyster-catchers, occasionally flying right at you to move you on, little dunlins and other sea-birds too numerous for me to identify. Back along the coast overlooking beautiful sandy bays, past nesting arctic terns, and sea-thrift between the rocks. Back through the fields, covered in little yellow violas and tiny, pink geraniums, past lapwings with their small babies, and strip off in the warm, dry van. What a great day out!
We drove on over the causeway to Bernaray Island, where we were to catch the early morning ferry to Leverburgh on Harris, again about an hour’s sail away.. We’d tried to get on the ferry today but they were fully booked. It’s only a small ferry with room for about 4 campervans and ten cars!
Berneray, HRH’s favourite island, was connected to N Uist in 1999 by a causeway. Walking out onto the jetty, I saw an otter making its way purposely through the water just ahead of me, occasionally slinking like a little sea-serpent. I called Ian over, who arrived just in time to miss it, and he blamed my eyesight for the case of mistaken identity! After an hour or two, at dusk, nearly 10pm, I spotted another one, from the van, turning over onto its back at the water’s edge within 100m of the van. This time Ian saw it too, and agreed that there was no doubt it was an otter!

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