I’ve had a great few days settling in and getting to know the island and its residents a bit better – which has meant a lot of exploring in the car, peering through binoculars and drinking tea – it’s a friendly place!
It is also a windy place. Which is great because it blows the rain through quickly. But there’s normally a lot more not far behind. It all seems quite fitting though and definitely adds to the atmosphere of the place, especially in the very south on the Mull of Oa and up here in the north west; both fairly rugged and windswept places. I had a fun little walk on Sunday evening just in front of where I’m staying for now at Kilchoman (islaycottages.com) on the beach at Machir Bay, sand and foam from the stormy sea blowing everywhere and beautifully deserted.
A windy Machir Bay
As promised, the wildlife is also spectacular. A peregrine keeping an eye on rock doves above my cottage, a pair of Golden Eagles cruising along, choughs and hen harrier heaven. I’ve seen five in five days so far – going to see how long I can keep that going for. And geese. The barnies are everywhere, literally turning green fields mottled grey, black and white; from afar it looks something like a random pebble beach in the landscape. Which then suddenly takes off, yapping like a pack of terriers, before deciding there was no reason for alarm and back they come to the same spot, slightly sheepishly. There’s even a leucistic one floating around up near here. And then there are little families of white-fronts just quietly minding their own business in boggy field corners and barley stubbles. When there’s often a few thousand barnies in one field even a couple of hundred white-fronts can be easily overlooked.
It’s not just birds though. I had a great few minutes with a pretty fine red deer stag down at the Oa RSPB reserve, just casually wandering across the moor and then having a good old scratch, first with a hoof and then on an electricity pole – always good when you can’t reach the bits you need to, apparently..
Red deer stag
And a scratch..
And a better scratch..