Sunday, 20 October 2013

The politics of the scenery

The Safari is going to tell you about some of the further flung trips out we did or didn't do in Scotland. As 'luck' would have it a more formally ?accepted journalist than us said the same as wot wuz gonna in a blog challenge in the week.
We were hoping for a boat trip to the nearby island to look for raptors and owls but the day we planned to go across the bay we could see nothing but low cloud and drizzle, not the best for conditions for looking for soaring species! Not only that Frank would have been stuck in the back of the car for long periods so not really fair on him either.
Not to worry the weather on the west coast is very changeable and apparently it never rains all day so the sun came out in the afternoon allowing a us to leave Wifey and Frank and go on a speedy boat ride around the bay looking at the wildlife, scenery and excellent trip. While we waited fro the boat to leave we ate our butties on the quayside watched intently by a young Herring Gull.
On the way across the bay we were treated to views straight down the southern end of the Great Glen, Loch Linnhe, to Beinn Nibheis appropriately with its head in the clouds being Britain's highest mountain.
We had a look at a fish farm and learned that the Chinese are starting to get into smoked salmon which will mean that the number of farms will dramatically increase and thus the amount of unquota'd feed-fish stripped from the sea will be increased.
Sadly there were no seals on their favourite haul out rock. A dash across the bay took us to a castle that had been taken off the local clan by those always awful Campbells in the late 1600's but the original owners the clan Maclean had recently bought it back.
Across the Sound of Mull we hung around under the cliffs in the hope of eagles and/or deer, neither showed. But the scenery made up for the lack of wildlife. 
The arrow is pointing to a waterfall, very dry this day but probably not now after all the rain since! What happens when the wind is in the 'right' direction is that the falling water gets blown back up and over the edge like a plume of smoke hence its local name as The Chimney.
Just to the left of this is a fault in the rocks with sedimentary rocks on the left and a massive lava flow to the right.
Note remnant woodland at the water's edge and the little house, This was a hunting bothy for deer stalkers but is no longer used and is open to anyone although only easily accessible from the water so is popular with kayakers. The deer killers now drive in from the back of the hill on quad bikes - no long hard walks or muddy boots for the well-heeled any more.
Moving along the cliffs the woods increased a little
What  a shame this Atlantic cool temperate rainforest is reduced to such tiny pockets and even these aren't valued at all. It used to cover much of the hillsides all around and was full of Wolves, Brown Bear, Moose, Wild Boar, Lynx, Beaver and many more species all now long gone and as GM postulates not coming back any time soon unless there is a sea-change in our attitudes to larger animals and a lot of political manoeuvering to get the necessary land off those that have it and want to keep it as it is for their own purposes. Then someone has to get rid of the massive over-population of Red Deer and start planting billions of native trees - who's gonna pay for that...serious amounts of carbon credits/tax may be a way.
So who is going to accept Wolves, Bears or Lynx even in these remote, and largely devoid of humans, hills...would be great if the clock could be turned back a thousand years or more!!! Maybe there would there be less Golden Eagles and Hen Harriers (Could there possibly be less of those? - come on guys 6 1/2 thou signatories is a very poor show...where are you?Tthis is important not just for harriers but almost lots of other species too especially the vegetation and littlies) but there'd be more Juniper, Tree Pipits, Whinchats and a whole host of currently seriously depressed invertebrates and wild flowers...wonder if in the event of Scottish independence will the 'new' nation have the bottle to take up the challenge.
Our guide told us that the White Tailed Eagles are unpopular due to the number of lambs they take and this on the island where they contribute £millions to the tourist economy including our own hard earned $$$ - by the way who eats all this lamb? We certainly can't afford it! He did however take us to see one but it wasn't home. And what a home fully a metre deep which earlier in the season fledged two long before they naturally recolonise England?
On the way back we had a close look at Lismore (Gaelic for large garden as the island is made of limestone and full of wildflowers) Lighthouse designed by one Robert Stephenson, grandfather of a lad wot wrote a book about and island with some treasure on it amongst other famous ripping yarns.
After we'd got back to the harbour, where a pirate was enjoying a well earned slug of rum after a hard day's swash-buckling, it was time to take Frank for his swim and we found the tide was out and there were rockpools to explore.
 The pools had Snakelock's Anemones - what beauts wish we got them on Patch 2!
Not sure what species these Top Shells are and if they are the same or different.
Loads of other more familiar stuff was in there but a colony of Bryozoans on a Kelp frond was novel to our eyes - at least we think that's what it is.
Top of the cute stakes goes to this little Hermit Crab...don't blink you'll miss it - we couldn't tell what was happening through the viewfinder  - we didn't fancy dunking the lens in the water and we shoulda gone to Specsavers! View full-screen it's only wee
Another trip took us to the 'impresive' Falls of Lora Britain's only sea-water waterfalls.
Can yer see em? They're mid-right and not that impressive the tide wasn't low enough, we did see them looking slightly more exciting on another day when the tide was lower might be good for canoeists but not what we were expecting impressive-wise!
A day out in the rain to historic Inveraray was good and it stopped raining when we got there. Cracking misty mountain scenery.
 Pub was good too; and dog friendly :-) so guess who hogged the fire. Lovely pub chips we've had for years
Not a lot else to report, lots of Buzzards but hard to get anywhere near
While we're on the subject of birds of prey we might have seen an eagle...about 30kms away!!! Through the scope wound up to it's full 70x. 30000m/70 = about 428m equivalent..we certainly something big soar briefly above the ridge but don't realistically think we can count it! 
We'll leave you with a Scottish sunset
Wot did the stealth-cam find?...
A disappearing Hedgehog

And these two lovelies

Where to next? Back to more normal venues tomorrow and a weather dependent dolphin watch from the prom with SMcC...join us if you can.
In the meantime let us know if you're sick of scenery in your outback yet.


Heather Wilde said...

Fabulous post, truly a little something for everyone. When will we learnt hat nature know best which species should be where. Really, really need to get to Scotland soon.

cliff said...

More wonderful scenery Dave. Love the Snakelock's Anemones.

Anonymous said...

Great & interesting post, backed up with some quality images, Dave.