Thursday, 31 December 2015

A Death below Torr na Moine

I passed the Raptor on my way out of the village this morning. He was deeply upset, having just done something with which many, including myself, will deeply empathise. On his walk he had seen three eagles, a golden eagle and a pair of sea eagles, the latter flying over him so low that, as he shot them with his trusty Lumix, he knew the pictures would be quite exceptionally good. They weren't: he had left his camera on the manual focus setting.

I was on my way to Camas nan Geall, so he left me with the thought that, for there to be so many raptors wheeling in the skies over Ben Hiant, there must be something dead somewhere.

I reached Camas nan Geall just as the sun was coming out. My objective for the day was the low headland to the west of the bay. The reef offshore is called Sgeir Fhada, the long skerry, and the headland to its landward is described by Historic Scotland as the site of a prehistoric fort which is of sufficient importance to be scheduled. The easiest way to reach the fort is across the hill, Torr na Moine, which rises behind it, so....

....I drove back along the road and parked the car near the bridge by which the Kilchoan road crosses the Allt Torr na Moine. It's best to keep to the higher land as Torr na Moine, the hill of the moor or bog, is well-named but, once one reaches it, it does offer....

....fine views westwards towards Stellachan Dubha, one of my favourites particularly in sunshine. Hidden in the wide glen between here and Stellachan Dubha is the cleared village of Bourblaige.

As one follows the ridge the views towards the road open to another cleared clachan, Torr na Moine. When this clachan was cleared, along with Bourblaige in 1828, a large sheep fank was built on its site, and this is visible in the centre of this picture, to the right of the ruined house.

The prehistoric fort is just to the right of the bracken-covered hill, and was occupied today by a solitary sheep. The site is hardly worth a visit as there's nothing to be seen there, yet it is a scheduled monument - which is deeply disappointing when it is compared, say, to the fort at Rubha nah-Uamha on the north coast, which isn't.

By this time, with the sun fading, the skies were becoming increasingly busy with crows, which reminded me of what the Raptor had said, so I climbed to the summit of Torr na Moine, found a convenient rock and sat to watch them.

This view looks across to an intriguing area of marsh land which was once worked, and on to the coast of northwest Mull. On this side of the marsh there was a rare sight at this time of year, a small group of people who had left their car at Camas nan Geall and had worked their way round the coast before making for Bourblaige. It's a super walk.

The eagle pictured in the top photo came over, probably saw me, and left again. Soon after, a pair of ravens settled beside a ditch in a boggy area of ground below me and began to feed, while five hooded crows landed not far away to wait their turn.

As usual, the Raptor was right. A sheep had become stuck in the bog and died there. Given the chance, hoodies and ravens have a habit of pecking out the eyes of lambs and sheep as hors-d'oeuvres, so one hopes that this animal had died first.

No comments:

Post a Comment