A Break in the Storms

Finally, the winds of the winter storms have stopped battering the west coast of Scotland and given me a few days of peace. In the last couple of weeks trees have crashed down (I now have a year’s supply of fire wood), the power on the island has been cut and the greenhouse in the garden has been smashed into pieces. Now the winds have dropped, the snow has settled on the hills and the island has been left in an eerie silence.

Stepping outside this morning I could hear buzzards mewing eagerly through the cool morning mist, and knew there must be another fatality on the road. Indeed, as I walked onto the one and only road on the Isle of Seil, an unfortunate rabbit had been hit by an islander’s car. A buzzard promptly landed down for breakfast as others circled ahead scouting for the next victim of the road. The island buzzards are lazy, and seem to prefer food delivered rather than hunting for themselves.

The islands around Oban are fantastic for birds of prey – especially after a spell of high wind and rain. Hungry, after not hunting in the poor weather, they seize their chance on a calm day like this. An hour later, I was in a boat and bobbing around the icy waves off the coast of Scarba, 14km from my house, and watched as three Golden Eagles soared in sun before circling high over the ridges and disappearing from view. The only sign of the weeks of preceding rain took form in a distant waterfall which poured silently from the island’s 200 metre high cliffs.

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Golden Eagle: David Ainsley

Despite it being winter – there is still plenty of wildlife around if you know where to look. The red deer are perfectly camouflaged against the burnt-red moors of dead bracken (but their white rear ends give them away as soon as they turn their back to you!). The local otter has kindly taken to leaving a pile of smelly crab shells for me to regularly dispose of and a very small mystery creature has started scuttling about in the loft.

I’ve set up a wildlife camera in my garden (and the loft) to see what visitors are appearing when I’m not around – so check back next week to see what I’ve found! Until then, I’ll leave you with a couple of snaps from this wintery island wonderland.

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Isle of Mull: Sara Frost

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