Thursday, 3 March 2016

Along the Shoreline

The weather continues to switch back and forth, this morning being fine with a gentle northerly breeze. On our way out of our front door we met this robin, who has a problem with his/her right leg. With the mating season starting, it's the worst possible time for an injury.

A path down to the shore from the road passes this neat walled enclosure. It contains the last boat of the type kept by most of the crofters along Ormsaigbeg. Fishing was an important source of food on a farm which was too small to support a family.

The boat is about ten foot long, clinker built, with a galvanised steel strip along its keel to protect it when the boat was pulled up the stony beach.

It has lain there for many years and its wood is now rotten, but it isn't useless. Look carefully towards the bow of the boat in the upper picture, and there's a hole in the grass leading under the boat. We've seen an otter going in there.

The boats also had to be manhandled across the rocks of the lower part of the shore but, in some places, the crofters exploited natural leads which they probably widened. This is a picture of the foreshore below a neighbouring croft. The rock on the right is a hard igneous rock, part of a dyke which runs out to sea, while the open area is a softer part of the same dyke which has been eroded out.

The shoreline to the west is much rockier, wider, and has little beach but, judging by the rectangular walled areas just above the high-tide mark, boats were also kept on these crofts. Launching and retrieving them along here in any sort of sea must have been a skilled job.

We're seeing sea eagles flying back and forth along this coast almost every day. It may be that they commute across from Mull to feast on Ardnamurchan before returning to their nests at night. This one, with its white tail, is an adult.

The twittering of small birds warned me that it was coming, giving plenty of time to get the camera out. But the eagle had seen me and, instead of passing directly overhead, veered away inland.

As the Lord of the Isles came up the Sound, so the Scottish Fisheries Protection ship Jura entered the north end of the Sound. They're seen with Glengorm Castle in the background.

SFP ships never seem to be in a hurry to get anywhere. The Jura arrived very slowly, headed for the mouth of Loch Sunart, turned and did a wide circle in the Sound, stopped, and then, about three hours later, wandered off southwards. With the recent designation of some 30 Marine Protection Areas, one would have thought these ships would be scurrying round looking after them.

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