Tuesday, 16 September 2014

One Man and his Dog

When local prawn fisherman Justin Cameron sets out each day to check his creels, his year-old Highland-Patterdale terrier Norman goes with him.  At this time of year Justin's fishing boat is moored in Kilchoan Bay, so....

...it's a short and, in fine weather, a pleasant row out from the slipway....

....through the power boats and yachts....

....to Justin's creel boat, Harvester.

Justin is often out until late afternoon so this picture's just in case anyone wondered what a typical creel fisherman takes out for lunch.  Norman, presumably, enjoys a dish of live prawns.

Monday, 15 September 2014

A Paddle into the Bay

On a calm day, there's nothing better than taking the camera for a gentle paddle into Kilchoan Bay, passing along the front of the houses of Ormsaigbeg and Ormsaigmore.

The more active paddlers can always find some excitement at the mouth of the Millburn by trying to paddle upstream.  On this day it was hard work - there had been 26mm of rain in the previous 18 hours - so the burn was high.  In fact, even more excitement came a few minutes later when what was probably a sea trout jumped close beside Rachael's kayak.

Further back into the bay there are wonderful views across the flooded salt marsh to the old manse, Meall mo Chridhe, now a restaurant with rooms.  Just above it can be seen the ruins of St Comghan's, a 12th century church which is well worth a visit.

At the back of the bay the wildlife and sheep which normally graze the marshes are confined by the high tide.  The geese here are greylags, resident all the year, and they're joined by gulls, herons, oystercatchers and other waders.

Not everything is postcard pretty.  This lamb, washed up on the south side of the bay, drowned after a dog chased it into the sea.  But nothing is wasted: now it's food for the hoodies - hooded crows - and, if no-one is around, the sea eagles which fly across from Mull.

Rounding Glas Eilean, an island to the south of the bay, opens views straight down the Sound of Mull - in the distance, the Lord of the Isles, a CalMac ferry, is coming up the Sound.  By this time the storm clouds were building over Beinn Talaidh on Mull, and a light breeze had got up.

Once round Glas Eilean we were into the deep bay called Port na Luinge.  As well as being an ideal place to see grey seals basking in the sunshine, it's one of the best places for otter-spotting.  The seals are nervous - they're justifiably unpopular with local fishermen - but we drift in towards them on our kayaks so they stay on the rocks until we're quite close.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

The Rivals

While we enjoy our sundowners on the terrace at the back of the garden, with its views across the Sound of Mull, we put out a few grains of millet for the two semi-tame robins.  For reasons we don't understand, they often turn up together.  One, which has black legs, is slightly more daring than the pink-legged one on the wire.

But when it comes to feeding, it's all rivalry, with ruffled feathers....

...stand-off posturing, loud twittering, and the two chasing each other around the place.  The frequent result is that neither gets any grain.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Ships in the Sound

Continuing from last month's theme that the best ship photos are taken from close up and personal, this picture shows the Wilson Farsund steaming up the Sound, taken from the Tobermory ferry.  She's a modern cargo boat, having been launched in 2012.  Barbados registered, she's part of the Wilson Ship Management fleet which, despite its Scottish name, is a Norwegian company.  It's a large company, operating around a hundred bulk carriers like the Farsund.

This is the Warber, a Dutch vessel.  Her home port is Lemmer and she's part of the Wijnne & Barends fleet.  The company is an old one, having been trading since 1855, and is unusual in that it offers cargo ships which are ice-class.  This includes the Warber - hence the odd bow shape, which means she can operate in places where rivers freeze during the winter.

We seem to see most cruise ships early or later in the year.  In the last few weeks we've seen several, including this one, the Thompson Spirit.  She's another of the old cruise ships which have been modernised, having been built for the Holland America Line back in 1983.  As her name suggests, she's now operated by the holiday company, Thompsons.

The Black Prince, seen here leaving Tobermory Bay, is a regular vitiator to these waters.  She's even older, having been built in 1966 as the Ola Esmeralda, a cruise ship owned and operated by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines.

The Seabourne Legend, which came past us the previous evening in the dark, may look a modern ship but she too is a few years old, having been built in Germany and launched in 1992 as the Royal Viking Queen for the Royal Viking Line.  She's touted as a top-of-the range cruise ship, with a menu which includes superb cuisine "from French fries to foie gras".

Lastly, as the sailing season draws to a close, we'll miss superb sights like this, a yacht under sail with a brisk southeaster on her beam.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Return of the Black Adder

The black adder was back again last night.  I saw a sudden movement on the step where the path down from the back of the croft crosses an old wall, in exactly the same place as I saw him last time.  He'd hidden himself but, with the last of the sunlight on the stone, there was a good chance he'd show himself again, so I waited.

He must have known I was there but perhaps he's getting used to being disturbed and to my standing watching him, because he reappeared, coiling himself in the protection of the stonework but with as much as possible of his body in the late afternoon sun.  He kept moving - here he looks as if he's about to slide back into the stones - but he stayed for several minutes.

I was close enough to be able to see his tongue flickering in and out, sensing the air.

He finally retreated when I moved to get a better angle for a picture.  He didn't hurry, slowly sliding himself into the stonework.