Friday, 18 August 2017

Dark Skies

Ardnamurchan's small and scattered population has meant that there are relatively few artificial lights at night. This gives it a night sky, when it's clear and the moon is new, which is genuinely dark. As a result, we've seen the moons of Jupiter and....

....spectacular meteorite showers - the one at top left is the best I have managed - as well as....

....moon dogs and....

 ....moonbows.

We've seen dark skies in the day too, when we watched a total eclipse in March 2015.

We've enjoyed all those things but nothing, nothing is as exciting as an aurora. The best - sadly before I had a digital camera - was so spectacular it was awe-inspiring, but we've witnessed numerous events with flowing colours that take one's breath away.

My camera skills are limited, so a better idea of this great natural phenomenon comes from the pictures of Ben McKeown (above, of the iconic phone box at Kilmory) and....

....Ewan Miles. Ewan's picture was taken from Mull and looks across to the Ardnamurchan peninsula. The lights of Kilchoan are to the right and the flash of Ardnamurchan Point lighthouse can be seen to the left.

Many thanks to Ben and Ewan for allowing me to use their pictures.

Thank You!

Thank you for all the very generous comments and good wishes which have appeared on recent posts. I wish I had time to respond individually but our days are filled with the wearying task of packing up our possessions and making sure we leave the house in reasonable order.

It has been a great pleasure writing this blog, the more so when I have known that there are people 'out there' who have enjoyed it. It is truly sad to close it, but it will continue, all being well, until the 29th.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Seabirds

Watching the gannets sweep over the Sound of Mull and then suddenly tip their wings and plunge into the sea will be one of the memories of summer. At times we have seen as many as twenty manoeuvring in the air to attack a shoal of bait fish in the bay just below the house.

The ringed plover will always be, for us, the bird of the beaches at Sanna, allowing us to approach to within a reasonable distance before taking flight. Occasionally they didn't fly, feigning injury, the reason usually being....

....something small and furry and running fast.

Red breasted mergansers aren't difficult to spot in Kilchoan Bay but this pair will remain in my memory for having landed no distance from where I was sitting and seeming quite unpurturbed by my presence.

The curlews gather in flocks in the autumn and then spend their winters probing the soft ground in the croft fields before splitting into pairs in the spring. They're wary birds and difficult to approach, so obtaining a half-good picture has always been a challenge.

However, the birds I will remember from the Ormsaigbeg shore below our house, the birds which seem to represent this place, are the ever-cheerful, ever-sociable, always-smartly-turned-out oystercatchers.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Snow

It doesn't snow here much but, on the rare occasions on which we have enough for the snow to lie....

....the landscape is transformed.

My impression is that it has snowed much less in recent winters. In the days when we had the shop, I can remember the community being cut off, the main problem being located, as always, at 'the back of the ben'.  This picture was taken in 2009.

As always, it's the play of light - such a feature of this place - that makes a snowy landscape so special. This photo looks across Kilchoan township to the land around the cleared township of Skinnid and, on the left, the forestry on Beinn nan Losgann.

Snow on distant hills is more common but, again, it's the light that makes a picture. This view is across the mouth of Loch Sunart to Auliston Point on Morvern, beyond which is the Sound of Mull and the pyramid shape of Beinn Tallaidh on Mull.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

A Celebration

I bought a digital camera in July 2006. For a long time pictures steadily accumulated in the photo library until there were getting on for 8,000, a number which I tried not to exceed, without success. I now have something like 12,000 pictures of Western Ardnamurchan, so the closing posts of the Diary will be a celebration of this beautiful area using some of those pictures.

This photo, taken in January, shows the view across the Sound of Mull from the gate opposite the entrance to 'Ben Hiant'.