Wednesday, 6 March 2013

February Weather Report

February's weather came in contrasting halves.  In the first two weeks we had rain every day, and a total of 98mm, low for the time of year.  Not one day was sunny, and everyone was complaining about overcast skies.  By the 5th, with the wind in the north, the snow was down on Ben Hiant, and it stayed on the hills of Morvern and Mull for most of the rest of the month.

The views across the Sound of Mull were often dismal, and the Diary had to keep a sharp lookout for passing vessels so they could be photographed in the few minutes in which they emerged from the murk.  This is a the Arklow Rock passing the entrance to Bloody Bay on the 9th.

On the 15th everything changed.  An incredulous Diary wrote "Spring??" on the day's weather log as the maximum temperature soared to 12C, the sun came out, and the wind swung into the southeast.  As high pressure established itself over Scandinavia, the southeasterly breeze continued day after day bringing clear skies, warm days and cold nights.  We walked as much as possible - this picture looks across Ardnamurchan Estate lands to the cattle sheds at Caim and the heather-covered slopes of Meall an Tarmachain.

By the morning of the 19th we were experiencing ground frosts which continued each night until the end of the month - this in a place which doesn't have more than half a dozen or so in a 'normal' winter.  The trouble with such lovely daytime weather is that getting anywhere takes time - this stop was to take a picture of the tiny crofting township of Achosnich.

As well as cheering the local population and those lucky visitors who had 'risked' Ardnamurchan in winter, the bright weather was wonderful for wildlife photography.  Even the animals themselves seemed cheerful, the red stags being a little more tolerant of our approach before they headed for safety.

However, some animals are confused by this exceptional weather.  Many thanks to Kilchoan Early Bird for this picture of a puzzled lizard which was wandering around a manhole cover in the dark a few nights ago.

While March has come in more overcast, with a few millimetres of rain, the dry weather hasn't really broken.  The grass crunches underfoot when we walk.  The burns are almost dry.  The southeasterly - once an unusual wind direction - is the norm, and we're becoming a little bored with it.  What we need now is a reminder of a real Ardnamurchan winter - like a thumping good westerly gale.

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