Thursday, 31 October 2013

Little is good

The Safari didn't see anything other than a few Common Scoters this morning. Undeterred we were out again at lunchtime but if anything the few Common Scoters had become hardly any Common Scoters. There wasn't any excitement on the beach certainly no sign of yesterday's dodgy gull. A not so dodgy gull appeared in the middle distance and a welcome one at that - we could easily ID it! An adult Little Gull - nice.
Mid afternoon we had the last family event of this year's Autumnwatch season while we waited for the massing throng to turn up we pointed the camera at some gullage cruising by...shame it was so dark.
Our throng constituted of three generations of one family which was great and the can't stay away from anything mariney DB. 
The rockpools were savaged, nets trawled through the soft sand and stones overturned to find a couple of trays of goodies.
Somewhere in there there's a giant Common Prawn, an almost as big Brown Shrimp as well as the smallest Bristle Star we've ever seen it was tiny. The trail in the right hand tray was made by an Edible Periwinkle.
It took until the last sweep of the net to find a very small Green Shore Crab though. We spotted a reasonably sized Blennie but there was no way we were going to be able to catch it .
Where to next? More Patch 2 stuff tomorrow and we might be able to get up at lunchtime to have a short cetacean watch with our local Seawatch coordinator SMcC.
In the meantime let us know what was in the middle distance in your outback.




Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A veritable wader fest

The Safari was out in the wind first thing and we were the only one! Not a great lot was out there on the brisk southerly and we can confirm that it's deffo getting wintery out there our fingers were feeling it today.
It took a while to find anything of note and they were two Great Crested Grebes doing a good job of hiding in the troughs. Three Shelducks went north and a Red Throated Diver came towards us from the south before dropping in to the waves. Bucking the trend a Meadow Pipit went south.
At lunchtime we had organised a two hour cetacean watch but again we were thwarted by the weather earlier in the morning. No-one turned up but we gave it a go as there was a beach clean at half time that we could join if there was nothing to see and no-one to watch with.
As it happened it was quite interesting but not at sea, on the beach. We soon found two Bar Tailed Godwits always a good find on Patch 2. Not sure it we missed one amongst the gulls but a third soon appeared. Later a three more flew in from the north making a site record breaking six! Along the beach a small flock of 15 Dunlin landed, another good sighting as we rarely see this species in any numbers unless they are mixed with Sanderlings of which there were a only a rather disappointing four today. Uncounted Oystercatcher, a handful of Turnstones and a single Redshank made up the wader-fest but it was quiet over yet...all will be revealed in a bit. Another Meadow Pipit flew south low along the wall too.
Highlight of the watch wasn't a wader but a gull - how did we know you knew we were going to say that? But what kind of gull? Well exactly; what type of gull??? There were many Herring Gulls a few Common Gulls and a handful of Black Headed Gulls and sat apart from the all these and slightly apart from each other were two Lesser black Backs. Nothing odd in that but superficially one looked smaller than the other and much much paler, trick of the light? Don't think so when the moved close together and stood at the same angle the small one was deffo smaller, slighter, blunter winged, although could have been in a different stage of moult, and was at least three shades of grey lighter but not as light as a Common Gull; bill was all dark for a bird that looked to be almost fully adult, add to that a flat lightly marked head sitting on a dark neck, nape and breast looking a bit like a scarf with a heavier shawl across the lower nape and 'shoulders'. A third Lesser Black Back dropped in a d sat next to the 'proper' one making the odd one look properly odd. The legs of the other two were normal but the odd one had sludgy indeterminate coloured legs. No idea...a Herring x Lesser Black Back hybrid back crossed with a  Lesser Black Back?...no chance of a pic unfortunately and deffo one to look out for and get some more details on like open wing situation.
After work we nipped up to the other end of town to join SMcC on her cetacean watch and as we walked down the cliffs we were very pleased to see she wasn't alone - volunteers wayhay!
They hadn't had much and by now it was murky with drizzle in the air and getting dark added to that the sea was still quite choppy - not the best Harbour Porpoise spotting weather.
But the wader-fest theme continued with three Curlews on the beach, a species we very rarely see on this stretch of beach and never near the wall.
Here's the stalwarts, no they're not being anti-social they have their backs to the cold wind and are looking to the brightest patch of sky, behind us rain wasn't far away.
Where to next? SMcC has another watch tomorrow at the same place on the lower walk below the Norbreck Castle from 9am to 11am while we're back looking in the rockpools between 2 and 3pm if you're in the area please wrap up and join them.
In the meantime let us know how weird the gullage was in your outback.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Where'd everyone go?

The Safari didn't see much early this morning just the local gulls and a few Common Scoters beedling about possibly trying to relocate their mates.
At lunchtime we waited and waited but no-one came to our event, not really surprising as for much of the preceding  hour horizontal hail rattled hard against the office window. While we were waiting for the throng to appear we watched this squall coming our way and hunkered down behind the wall as it passed over to avoid a drenching. Spare a thought for SMcC who was doing a two hour cetacean watch through the worst of it!
The wind had dropped a bit from yesterday but not a lot it was still easy to get blown about a bit and a moments lack of concentration could have landed us on our butt.
Surprisingly after the heavy weather there were no where near as many shell on the beach as we'd hoped/expected. They were only in scattered locations along the beach. 
There were a couple of surprises though. Lots of Common Otter Shells wasn't unusual but the large Native Oyster was a nice find and not too worn so only recently deceased - there has to be a small population out there somewhere. The star find was the White Piddock, they are invariably broken as they are very fragile.
At half time we were joined by local marine guru DB and had an amble along the rockpools but most of them were too murky to see into. We had a good look for the only Limpet on the wall but we couldn't find him.
There were enough Pod Razors to make a little beach art.
Where to next? We've got a cetacean watch tomorrow thankfully the wind should have dropped a bit and swung round more southerly so it shouldn't be so wavy. Should be able to join SMcC for the last hour of her watch too on the way back to Base Camp.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Well the albatross didn't show

The Safari is now cured; the physio signed us off this morning which is good, but it did mean that we were at the hospital being 'manipulated' rather than scoping the waves for seabird exotica...that had to wait until lunchtime.
We hope you realise that we weren't really expecting a Black Browed Alabatross to cruise by...but then neither were the birders in Norfolk yesterday! But no matter what is or isn't out there if you don't look you won't see!
So at lunchtime look we did and didn't see much for our troubles.
None of the anticipated skuas, Fulmars, petrels or dodgy gulls put in an appearance. In fact there was little other than a few Common Scoters and commoner gulls. 
The light to the south off us was dreadful in the bright hazy sunshine so we were restricted from straight out west to about NNE where the light was much better. Towards the end of one scan looking almost north we caught a glimpse of a distantish shearwater. With it being at the end of our scan all we got was the back end of it as it looped through the waves - it looked dark rather than the usual contrasting black and white of our Manx Shearwaters but was it a Balearic or a Sooty Shearweater - we'll never know!
No time to look for anything else before it went dark but on the way back to Base Camp we made the mistake of going down the Prom - it's half term and consequently very busy - where we got stuck in traffic between the piers giving the opportunity to look for any Starlings murmurating. We were either a little early in the day or a little early in the season as there were only about 100 or so swirling round and we didn't see any new flocks come over town to join the fun.
Where to next? We've an event to coincide with BBC Autumnwatch tomorrow having a look on the beach for what the storm might have washed up and hopefully we'll get a few pics for you.
In the meantime let us know who avoided full identification in your outback.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

What's a bit of wind between friends

The Safari didn't get out til late today. We weren't sure if we were going to get out at all and if we did where would we go. In the end we managed to leave the house just before lunchtime and dragged the scope over the hill to our nearest coastal watchpoint tucked in out of the wind lurking furtively behind the public lavvies at Gynn Square - gynn being a Viking word for a cleft in the cliffs. In the increasing south-westerly it was quite sheltered and we were able to look along the troughs rather than across the tops of the waves like wot we usually have to do at Patch 2.
As soon as we put our eye to the eyepiece a dark bird careened in and out of the waves a couple of time in the distance. It looked more jizzilly skuary than gully but disappeared before we could clinch any more of an ID than that.
The tide was on the rise but we a bit too early, perhaps might have been better after the tide but it was dark by then.
All we saw for the rest of the session were a few small flocks of Common Scoters - you've got to give these little ducks some serious respect. In the forthcoming 'super' storm they are going to sat out there come hell or high water and if the telly is to believe copious quantities of each are about to be unleashed - it'll just wash over them like the proverbial water of a ducks back - tough little b*ggers they are!
The wind was already up to around 40mph gusting a bit more but not quite reaching 50mph and there was some serious wavage going on out there. We watched the local freighter, the Silver River, come in and it was pitching all over the place its bow almost lifting clean out of the water a few times.
Even the gullage was on the quiet side with the migratory species Common and Lesser Black Backs being the most numerous and almost all going southwards. A couple of Great Black Backs cocked a snook a the oncoming weather in their own inimical 'I'm tougher than you - bring it ON' style.
We could only give it an hour and a half before having to head back to Base Camp where we wanted to try some more macro pics if the sun came out, which it did but instead we managed to whittle away the whole afternoon doing nothing in particular and certainly nothing productive and all to seen the change in the hour took its toll and it was dark! So apologies for the lack of illustrative pics today...must try harder!
Where to next? A late start tomorrow due to physio so no early Patch 2 session...we'll be swotting Black Browed Albatross pics all night just in case for Patch 2 tomorrow lunchtime!
In the meantime let us know if it's a breeze in your outback

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Still work to do

The Safari was out early this morning to do our first Winter Thrushes survey of the season. The weather was kind, in fact we were totally over dressed, we could have gone out in just a t-shirt it was that mild and still. Really it was too mild for winter thrushes to be in abundance. We counted 44 Blackbirds but just one each of Redwing and Song Thrush. Little else was to be found apart from a plethora of Robins ticking away from almost every bush. There were quite a few Goldcrests too, we should have noted them down really, at least six on our walk. Three Grey Squirrels weren't the only mammals there seemed to be a lot more cats out than we normally see, perhaps it was just early enough to be out before most of the dog walkers which might frighten the cats back indoors...just a theory - that's a 'literary' theory rather than a scientific theory. One of the cats was lying in the grass towards the middle of the field in front of us and was ever so still at first glance, on closer inspection it was no wonder it was stone dead..had  a collar on so wasn't a stray and the only injury we could see was a small amount of blood near its mouth.
One of our few streams was blocked and a cursory glance might suggest we have Beavers in the vicinity, Beavers however would have made a much neater job than the local scrotes.
Back at Base Camp we gave the macro lens a few minutes with a couple of Scarlet Pimpernel flowers when the sun threatened to break through.
Individual pollen grains
Still not got it quite right, one more minor adjustment to make to see if that improves the images any.
The rest of the afternoon was spent at the footie...jeez 'pool are hard to watch, we've eaten most of the the inside of our mouth and the dentists bills for a new set of back teeth as the originals have been ground out of existance!
Two penalties, a bizarre bobbling ground shot that everyone in the ground players, stewards and crowd watched bobbled through the crowded penalty area into the bottom corner. A massive punch- -up followed by a sending off for each team which resulted in too much space and doooohhhhhh a late own goal for an equaliser - 2 points thrown away!!! Midfield - was there one? Defence - scary; Goalie was good!
Where to next? Not sure yet might be weather and Wifey dependent if we get out or not, the nature reserve could be on the cards.
In the meantime let us know who equalised late in your outback


Friday, 25 October 2013

It's all appenin next week

The Safari was once again thwarted by deluginous weather this morning for a Patch 2 look...no point even attempting to go out in that!
We did get out later but more about that in a mo. 
But first we have an announcement of some events being run locally to tie in with BBC Autumnwatch which is coming from the top end of Safari-land this year, one of our favourite places we've been visiting since the early 1970's.

'Dolphin' watches with our Seawatch Foundation local coordinator SMcC
Tues  29th   10 - 12   Red Bank Road lower walk
Wed  30th     3 - 5     Norbreck Castle lower walk with SM - Might do that one with her
Thu  31st      9 - 11   Norbreck Castle lower walk with SM 
Fri     1st     11 - 1     Gynn Square by the Hole in Wall cafe with SM - Might do that one with her
Be sure to dress for the weather and bring binoculars if you have them.
Tue 29th  12 - 1  Mirror ball rockpooling and beach combing
Wed 30th 12 - 2  Mirror ball dolphin watch
Thu 31st    2 - 3  Mirror ball rockpooling and beach combing
Again dress for the weather and bring a fine meshed net and your buckets and spades.
On the subject of the beach we had a scope of the sea at lunchtime but there wasn't much to see. Similar numbers of Common Scoters to yesterday were seen and a Great Crested Grebe was the only other bird out there.
In the absence of anything feathery on the water we had a wander onto the beach. The tide was coming in and we didn't have long. Our usual area was already inaccessible so we had a shuffy elsewhere and worthwhile it turned out to be. The pools were a bit murky but there was a bit of strand-line composed mostly of Pod Razors, Common Razors and Sand Mason Worm cases. But interspersed were a few other interesting things, namely several Necklace Shells of varying sizes a couple of which were covered with Hedgehog Hydroid.
Also spotted was the claw of an Edible Crab something we rarely see on this end of the coast. Looking closely at the shells covered in the spiky hydroid we noticed that some of the ones weren't Necklace Shells but were something else, it's a large species of Tower Shell but which one. We found two and both were broken.


The drive home gave us a Red Admiral wend its merry way towards the coast, inverts were out at work this arvo  too with a Common Carder Bee visiting the last of the flowers and a pair of Eristalis Drone Flies playing chase me chase me.  Our evening walk with Frank is becoming a dark affair and after tomorrow will be fully dark as summertime ends. Recently we noticed this plant growing in a crack in the brickwork, it's a beautiful colour and reminds us Purple Sprouting Broccoli - it's actually a species of Sow Thistle and had to be taken with the flash 


Plenty of Magpies were going to roost and we heard the Goldcrest again. On the walk back down the hill a Sparrowhawk whipped over our heads. But surprise of the day was the Peregrine sitting up tucked in between the cables obviously aware of the weather that's on the way!
Where to next? There might be a large enough window in the weather tomorrow morning to get our first Winter Thrushes Survey completed, hope so.
In the meantime let us know if your outback stayed dry today.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Late IDs

The Safari now has some identifications for the marine species we found on the beach in Scotland.
Electra pilosa - a bit of Herringbone Hydroid on there too.
Gibbula cineraria
Gibbula umbilicalis
We hope we're right, if we're not please let us know.
We were back to work for the first time in five weeks this morning but unable to get out for an early Patch 2 visit.
Later we went out at lunchtime with the scope. The tide was rising and we were hopeful of finding something in the good conditions. Our hopes were soon dashed when all we could find were a small number of Common Scoters although several were nice and close, no Surf Scoters sadly as found off north Wales this morning by Patch 2 regular SD.
Eventually a Red Throated Diver revealed itself out in the middle distance.
We had a chat to LR who was fishing up the promenade aways and had already caught a small Flounder but too small for the frying pan. He also noted there were a good number of Red Admirals coasting southwards...they've probably seen the weather forecast and were high tailing it out of harms way before it makes landfall.
Patch 1 with Frank gave us a calling Goldcrest and gathering Magpies making their way to Magpie Wood.
Where to next? Hopefully we'll be able to point the camera at something new tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know what's been hiding its identity for a week in your outback.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Some you nearly win...

The Safari has been following the environmental and sustainability news of the day resulting in some very mixed feelings.
My brother-in-law came round and added some re-used and up-cycled sustainable bits to our aging and not so sustainable Land Rover. At least we're mobile again.
News from the EU was mostly good in the fishing vote...no tax payers' money for new boats, but they did say yes to new engines for old boats. Money was promised for more research and monitoring which is good. now we need some movement on net and mesh sizes and mesh features that will allow under sized fish to escape. Oh and mechanisms to prevent bottle trawling being so destructive and our own government needs to pull its finger out and get an ecologically coherent series of Marine Conservation Zones designated...don't hold your breath on that one!
Back to the government now and their ridiculous Badger cull which it transpired late this afternoon had been extended for another EIGHT weeks in Gloucestershire killing a maximum of 940 animals, only a handful of which will actually be infected and infectious, against just about every drop of scientific advice researched so far. It's a long time since we saw a live Badger and now we worry we might not ever again. Not that the cull (=kill) is anywhere near us but the reports of illegal activities by the bloodthirsty from all over our countryside are to be believed. There's no doubting the disease needs to be contained and eventually eradicated but only 2% of cattle tested are sent to slaughter and compensation given and many of these end up in the food chain anyway...this sicking brutality isn't the way forward and may well end up being counter-productive.
Further afield but sickeningly related to the bloodlust above is breaking news that roosting  Short Toed and Booted Eagles are being shot out of their trees in Malta...not by one or two 'rogue' hunters but by 'dozens' of shooters - what is it about some humans as a species we really need to have a long hard look at oursleves.
If you have Badgers in your area please keep them safe for our future generations. If you haven't seen this have a look and share it round, it's powerful stuff, Praterson and Camoron should be sent it.
Spiders...oh don't get us started more media hyped zoophobic nonesense on the news again just now. The truth is here
Hen Harriers - ohhh no another one bites the dust (Yes a deliberate connection to Brian May) wonder if we'll ever find out where bet you a pound to a penny there's Red Grouse involved since the report doesn't say it disappeared at sea.
Not yet had a chance to look at the 3rd UK Habitats Directive Reporting 2013

Fuel bills this winter - have a look at the wholesale price of gas since October 2005 - why aren't we paying less than we were then? This is nicked from a recent government document.

9 million views for the Great British Bake Off - - WHAT, HOW MANY?????? Now don't get us wrong we're pretty partial to a slab of cake but we really really hope AutumnWatch gets that many. Sadly it probably wont despite the environment being far far more important than a tasty bun. But do look out for one of our pics as we've had an email from the team letting us know one of ours is going to be used on Unsprung and/or the Extra programmes.
At least the Greenpeace Arctic 'pirates' have been 'downgraded' to hooliganism - bit of a difference! But they might not be out of the dark brown snowstorm just yet.
What started out as a fairly promising day has ended rather gloomily.
Where to next? We're back to work tomorrow so Patch 2 will be back in play weather permitting.
In the meantime let us know if there's some good news from your outback

Monday, 21 October 2013

Back to more normal haunts

The Safari wasn't too chuffed with the weather this morning, the heavy rain was well set in and refused to move on so it looked like we were going to get wet when we ventured out. Wet we did got - flippin soaked!
We'd arranged to meet up with SMcC  again for another cetacean watch but she had come down with lurgy and wasn't able to make it although another volunteer was at the watch point at the base of the cliffs - so that was two of us going to get wet then.
With the thick cloud the light was good and the offshore wind made the sea fairly calm shame about the heavy rain making the horizon only about a mile away and standing uncomfortably miserable wet. Still we stuck it out for two whole English hours and saw not a single mammal. Our com-padre is yet to see a Grey Seal off our coast and unfortunately we couldn't find her one, neither of us could find any form of cetacean either.
It wasn't all doom n gloom though there were a few birds kicking about. On the walkway along the bottom of the cliffs were three Turnstones gleaning bits from the path until dog walkers flushed them, the pickings must have been good cos it didn't take long for them to come back once the coast was clear.
Looking the other way a late Wheatear was hopping on and off the wall, still got a long way to go, by the time it gets there it'll be time to turn round and come back!
At sea a Great Crested Grebe was found and then a Red Throated Diver, later a second would fly past. Also flying by were three Shelducks that just appeared out of the gloom.
Perhaps the most unusual sighting wasn't of anything as notable as any of the above was a Black Headed Gull sitting on the wall close by whose underparts bright pink. It wasn't the only one, there was at least one other, obviously chomping away on something full to bustin with beta carotene; shrimps in the pools on the beach perhaps.
We hadn't taken the big camera due to the weather and it was a way too far for a serious attempt with the phone-cam but we tried anyway
You can see the pink flush - honest!
So no cetaceans but not a total wet lettuce of a day.
We mentioned the Atlantic rain forest yeesterday and told you it was undervalued or perhaps not even valued at all. So how did we come to make a such a sweeping generalisation? Well the huge forestry plantations are well defended against deer and sheep but the native woodland is 99.9999% of the time open to their ravages. Therein lies the problem - they are totally overgrazed and as old trees (and most of them are old even though they are often small in stature) fall there is nothing to replace them. Huge areas of Bracken all the way up the hillsides show where trees probably once stood. But the vast conifer plantations could be the answer with a bit of forethought. When they are felled the cleared area if not required for conifer replanting could be replanted with natives - the protective fencing is often still in place. Any new plantations could have a border of natives planted around it and in features in the terrain like gullies or crags to soften the landscape and provide a seed supply once the conifers have been cropped...all a pipe dream??? And where's the money going to come from...ohh for a very big Euro Lottery win...How much is a Scottish estate these days? We'd give it a go it would be worth the effort!
Where to next? Hmmm dunno yet there's a bit of weather dependency and the Land Rover needs to be resuscitated as it's totally dead after five weeks of inactivity, the only thing that works is the alarm!
In the meantime let us know what loomed out of the gloom in your outback.

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 history...an 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 youngsters...how 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 chips...best 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.


Can you get sick of scenery?

The Safari has been to the more tamer areas of the wilds of the west coast of Scotland for a week. We stopped at a little cottage with a room with a view
Path to the room with a view
The view
On the drive up we didn't see our first Hooded Crow (180) until well past Loch Lomond.
Once ensconced the job the next morning was to find Frank somewhere to swim and what a beautiful little bay we found for him to have a daily dip.
Behind the cottage was a private loch which one morning hosted no fewer than 13 Herons! An Otter was mentioned in the guest book several times but we didn't see it.
The woods to the side of the loch  looked a likely place to set up the stealth-cam.
 The local Mallards were friendly 
Warm sunshine also brought out plenty of dragonflies which were almost unapproachable; we had Common Darter, Black Darter and Emperor which were surprised to see this far north but looking back at Base Camp discovered it had already been recorded here.We got a brief view of a large dark dragon too which was probably Gold Ringed Dragonfly but we only saw it the once.
While Wifey mooched and Frank dozed we set up station with the scope at the room with a view and stared at the sea and mountains and kept an ear open for any vis mig going on. Redwings were notable in their many hundreds throughout the week but the only excitement was a brief small flock of Crossbills (181) that landed in a tree above our head but were mostly obscured by lower branches. If only they'd landed in some of the more open trees like these two old Scots Pines.
The sea was mostly quite, a few Eiders and the odd Harbour Seal being pick of the bunch until we at last found a Black Guillemot although by now they are more 'white' in their winter plumage. Small numbers of Gannets drifted by as did a flock of swans, probably Whooper Swans although there were several Mute Swans lurking in the harbour waiting for bread handouts. The skein of Grey Lag Geese were more likely to be 'proper' wild ones rather than the ferals we're used to seeing.
Under the big pines were some big fungi, no idea what species but they were imressive.
 and even had smaller fungi growing on them.
Frank went out one evening and found a Hedgehog in the garden and we heard a Roe Deer barking in the distance up the hill somewhere. Wifey thought she heard Red Deer bellowing one night but it could have been Frank snoring after his marine exertions.
That's all for now.
Where to next? More takes from north of the border including new of trips out and about.
In the meantime let us know what's been doing all the bellowing in your outback.