At this time of year the stags' antlers are growing in preparation for the rutting season. While this is happening, their antlers have a soft fur-like covering which carries the blood which enables to antlers to develop, and the stags are described as being 'in velvet'. The rate of growth is rapid, up to an inch a day.
This picture of a stag in velvet, silhouetted against the sunset, comes from Kilchoan Early Bird, to whom many thanks.
For an earlier Diary entry with more details of antler growth, click here.
We walked upstream from Ockle yesterday, following the track above the burn until we had crossed the ford and then cutting up hill, southeastwards, into one of the largest areas of....
....wilderness on Ardnamurchan. It's open land with wide views, green with the coming of summer, a place where, in the many times we've walked it, we have never met another human, but home to....
....small herds of red deer hinds with their young.
The heath spotted orchids are everywhere along with tormentil, lousewort, cross-leaved heath and
....bell heather in full flower, often growing on the most exposed rocks, but what we hadn't expected to find, almost at the highest point, was....
....a lesser butterfly orchid. We searched to find more, putting up a red grouse in the process, but without success - which begs the question how this single flower managed to get here.
Just across the watershed is this lochan with its single island - another lochan un-named on the OS maps. Beyond it the land falls steeply away into....
....a wide glen through which the Allt Eas a Ghaidail, the burn of the Gael's waterfall, flows. At some point an attempt was made to drain the land on the other side of the burn. The straight ditches look as if they may have been part of Sir Alexander Murray's efforts to drain the local highlands in the 18th century.
The Allt Eas a Ghaidail is a beautiful, meandering burn which can be followed downstream along banks alive....
....with small frogs which escaped at our approach by making great jumps into the water.
It is also a great burn for dragon and damselflies. This golden ringed dragonfly allowed the closest of close-ups: when this picture was taken the lens must have been an inch from his ear.
Many thanks to Richard O'Connor for sending this picture of the new box-profile roof on the shop with the comment, "Done!" Those working on the project have done extremely well, considering that they've had to contend with some heavy rain.
Thanks, too, to the Raptor who sends photographs of the cloud effects yesterday evening, this one looking across the Sound to Mull.
The Raptor writes, "I took these pictures on my 10pm walk with the dog and cat, this one of wonderful late evening sun burst to the west."