Tuesday, 24 January 2017
Sadly, the blue tit which is doing this - and we assume that it is a blue tit each time - is avoiding us, so only one fleeting opportunity has occurred in which I might have got a picture, but he was too quick.
Many thanks to Derryck for providing us with so much enjoyment - and frustration.
From Alasdair Thornton:
Details of exactly when they started are somewhat blurred, we do know however that Selkirk Builder Alan Tough (Toughie) was instrumental in setting things up and remains heavily involved to this day.
The first gatherings were held at Sonachan and moved to Glenborrodale Castle for the last couple of years.
Tickets were invariably scarce and to meet ever increasing demand the venue this year will be the Kilchoan Community Centre where, with the considerable help of the Community Centre Board, we hope to accommodate over sixty guests.
The Bill O’ Fare includes beer and cheese from the Isle Of Mull, May McNicol’s famous tablet, and award winning haggis all the way from Selkirk with an escort of 29 of Selkirk’s finest.
Songs, poems and traditional speeches are all planned with all proceeds from the tickets, at £20, going towards local community projects via the Community Centre.
In addition a raffle, for which donations are welcome, will be held and funds split between good causes in Kilchoan and Selkirk.
Tickets for the event, on 3rd February at 7pm, are available from the Steading Holidays Office in Kilchoan.
Monday, 23 January 2017
Amazed at the intelligence of Devon blue tits, we went onto the internet to find out where this neat little machine came from, but Derryck is an engineer and had built it himself. As he explained, "the body comes from a carbon fibre ice hockey stick handle which is a product we manufacture and the polycarbonate tubes are packaging for our measuring machine probes, with the corresponding endcaps."
Derryck had his machine in a tree at his house in Devon, but for our local birds the site is much more exposed - but with a fine view down the Sound of Mull. But the challenge was - are the Ardnamurchan birds quicker at solving a problem than the Devon ones?
This took less than half an hour but there was a problem. The blue tit hadn't actually removed the matchstick. He'd pecked at it, and the peanut I'd used was so small it had slipped down past the matchstick.
The peanuts have been replaced with larger ones. The blue tit has come back, but the nuts haven't moved. It's now three and a half hours since the challenge was re-set, and none of the peanuts has gone.
Sunday, 22 January 2017
Map courtesy Bing Maps.
Saturday, 21 January 2017
....marked here by an arrow, there a some of the best views of Portuairk itself, particularly if one happens to have the great good fortune to be on this hill on a sunny morning like this morning.
It's an interesting hill, almost vertically sided except to the left in this picture, the northwest side, and even from this side the approach is rocky and steep. It's a natural hill fort, a place to which, in times of trouble - such as the arrival of Viking longships - the people of Portuairk could have taken refuge. In the bowl-shaped area on its summit there's even a damp area which might have been developed as a water supply.
Even if these walls aren't Viking in age - and it is difficult to believe that these seafarers didn't use this wonderfully sheltered little bay - Port Maggie is filled with history.
A little further up the burn which flows down to the sea here, there are several stone structures. The one in the left foreground is probably an animal enclosure or, possibly, a kaleyard, a place where vegetables were grown. Just to its right is a standing stone, though there is no way of telling its age. To the right of this are....
....several walled structures, interpreted as a house with a yard around it in which there are the circular footings for a haystack. With the exception of the standing stone, these are 19th century, dating to the time when the Estate had moved people to Portuairk after they had been cleared from places like Swordle.
Many thanks to Dave Brown for his company and help, and to Jim for access.