Sunday, 2 February 2014


For the first time in the eighteen years we've been living on Ardnamurchan we've been away on holiday in mid-winter.  It seemed a good idea when we booked it, and a better and better idea as this very wet winter wore on, but when we reached Mauritius we discovered that it was the island's rainy season.  Fortunately, there was an easy escape from the heavy tropical showers: swimming in its warm, clear sea is equally wet whether done in sunshine or rain.

Mauritius, a tiny island measuring 65km by 45km located in the Indian Ocean to the west of Madagascar, was an interesting place to visit as Scotland moves on towards September's vote on independence.  With a population of some 1.3 million, since independence in 1968 it has developed a highly successful economy based on tourism, textiles, sugar, and financial and IT services.  For example, in the 2013 Index of Economic Freedom Mauritius is ranked as having the 8th most free economy in the world, and it has one of the richest economies of sub-Saharan Africa.

The island is probably most famous for the dodo, a friendly, flightless bird the size of a large turkey which was hunted to extinction by the crews of visiting ships within 150 years of the island's discovery by the Portuguese in 1505.  Subsequent human occupation destroyed the island's forests and many more species became extinct as alien species were introduced.  This spectacular little bird, the red cardinal fody, a type of weaver bird, is one of the introduced species.

We arrived home to a blanket of snow, which fell on Saturday morning but was almost gone at low levels by this morning.  In the time we were away, we missed three fine days, the weather during the rest being little different from December and early January's.

It was good to come home to find two photos from the Raptor waiting to be posted.  The first is of a sea eagle aged about two or three.  This continues to be a great winter for sightings of sea eagles, which seem to be doing extremely well.

The Raptor also sent this picture of a grey heron, taken on the foreshore just below the Ferry Stores.  On the same day Rachael, to whom many thanks for running the Diary while I was away, saw an otter running around just along from here, at the top of the slipway.

It was good to have a break from the west coast weather, but it's great to be home again.

Many thanks to the Raptor for the photos.


  1. Welcome home Jon and Gill! A good time to say how much we (like so many others) enjoy reading the blog (yet don"t tell you often enough) !

  2. Welcome home, you two. Glad both that you had a good time and are back blogging. You and others might be interested in reading the very recent and most lucid defence of sea eagles on your fellow blog on Mull, Treshnish Nature Log