Monday, 31 March 2014

Birds, Bees and a Butterfly

The weather forecast was for a fine day with hazy sun, a brisk south-easterly, and no precipitation of any sort, and that's precisely what we've had, starting with this warm sunrise over Beinn Shianta, the Blessed Mountain.

The first picture of the day was hardly taken before the sound of high-flying geese drew attention back to the mountain.  A skein of geese were passing in front of it, and were caught by the camera just as they passed over the Pier Road houses, flying in front of the long ridge of Beinn na h-Urchrach.

This morning we walked for over three hours along the track beyond Ockle, enjoying the sunshine, the wild countryside, and the loneliness, not seeing a single person.  One of the highlights of the walk was these two birds sitting on a wire.  Without really knowing what they were, we took a photograph.  On the left is what looks like the first wheatear of the season, slightly battered from his migration from Africa, across the Mediterranean and over southern Europe - more about that incredible journey here.  The smaller one on the right is a redpoll.  Redpolls also migrate, but the distances aren't as impressive.  This one probably spent his winter in southern England - more about them here.

The bees have been out on most days recently, but they struggle with the current marginal temperatures.  This one was comatose, but he'd chosen a rather dangerous place to warm up - on a rock well below the high-tide mark, with the tide about to turn.

We saw the first butterfly of the season flitting by about a week ago, but couldn't see what species he was, let along catch him on camera. This peacock was much more obliging, sunning himself on the dead bracken and brambles in a cleared croft field, but not before he'd done something I haven't seen before - he chased a bee all round the garden.  How on earth has this chap survived that miserable, wet winter, and come out so smart and so full of vigour?


  1. Please could you educate me in where Beinn Hiant becomes Beinn Shianta. I know the northern ridge of Beinn na h-Urchrach and the southern spike of Stallachan Dubha, but Shianta is new to me.
    Spring is in full swing here in Devon: most trees have a misty glow of green about them as the buds burst and rhododendrons are beginning to make a show to match the magnolias. It is a beautiful and exciting time!

  2. :-) I spotted a wheatear up at Kilmory on Monday afternoon - which was the first one of the season? Maybe we saw the same one!!!