Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Sanna Wander

We walked at Sanna this morning, crossing the bridge over the Sanna burn and then heading over the hills to the north coast towards....

....Plocaig. This is the entrance to Plocaig's port, the tide falling, with Muck along the horizon and, behind it with its head lost in cloud, Rum.

The coast east from Plocaig is wild and lonely, the only sign of human activity being....

....ships moving through the Minches, some of them taking part in Exercise Joint Warrior. Here, the French Navy's M652 Cephee, an Eridan class minesweeper, is seen in front of Muck with what I take to be a Dassault Falcon 20 passing overhead.

Closer to the ground, we saw the first moth of the summer - I'm not going to attempt to identify it - and, rather higher up....

....a sea eagle being harassed by a buzzard, an encounter which the buzzard won.

We stopped for coffee on this beach, at the far end where....

....we could watch the seals on the little island below Carraig doing what seals do best on a warm day: nothing.

Above, skein after skein of geese passed overhead, their coming announced by distant honking.

Although they passed high over us, this picture supports Steve Suttill's recent comment that he thought the last skein we saw was pink footed geese rather than greylags.

Leaving the beach we cut inland, passing Plocaig again and then following the Sanna Burn downstream, looking for....

....pearl mussels. The Sanna Burn is one of the few in the country which still supports this endangered, and protected species. Recent reports suggest that they are becoming increasingly rare, but we saw about fifteen in a half kilometre stretch.


  1. If they are endangered is it not somewhat irresponsible to post their location on the internet for all to see?

  2. Perhaps, and I understand your concern, but anyone with ill intent can find their location on the internet, so it seems more sensible to have everyone know where the mussels are so that we can all watch out for people breaking the law. This was the approach preferred by the officer from 'Pearls in Peril' who came to Kilchoan to do a session here, training local people in what to look out for. Jon

  3. Jon, beautiful collection of photos which capture the 'atmosphere' of area very nicely. Water in the burn appears about 2ft lower that when we were there recently - and nice shot of the muscle - now on the 'lookout' list for next years visit!

  4. Beautiful photography Jon. Your moth is one of the Geometers, probably the Common Heath, Ematurga atomaria. A male - see the feathery antennae of large surface area which he uses to detect a female's pheromones. A female's antennae are more hair-like.

  5. Dear Jon, It appears there are pros and cons of posting the location of the freshwater muscles. However it is with great sadness that I have to tell you that the muscles in Sanna burn are coming to the end of their life. All the muscles left are over 80yrs of age with no signs of any young. Once this older population have gone, its over. Various bodies have and are doing studies as to why. The main problem of course being the lack of fish which carry the young muscles on their gills. Other factors may include the weir on Allt Sanna, silting, pollution and of course the over fishing of these muscles in the 1900's for their pearls. All is not quite lost. A recent survey of the Allt Sanna has been carried out and if conditions are favourable there may be the option of a re introduction of younger muscles from elsewhere. This would mean a ladder being put at the weir, restocking of fish etc. At the moment funds do not seem to be available to do all this work.
    regards Sue

  6. Hi Sue - Many thanks for the information. It's a sad story you tell, and it would be great to have the burn re-stocked. We did see some trout, not many and all small, and all the mussels we saw were big. However, I would say that, along the short section we explored, there were as many as last time we looked, and no sign of shells along the banks to indicate that anyone had been taking them. If you hear of any change in the decision not to re-stock, please let us know. Jon