Monday, 27 December 2010

Lochan na Nal

Lochan na Nal stands on the foreshore just beyond the shop, below the road that leads to Alasdair Cameron's croft. It's unusual as a lochan as, although it has small streams flowing into it, it is also flooded by the sea, through a narrow gap, but only at high spring tides. In summer - picture above - the sea rarely breaks in, so freshwater plants such as pond weed grow luxuriantly....

....much to the benefit of this mallard family. In spring and autumn the lochan is a favoured resting place for migrating wildfowl, and some birds overwinter on it. Because it's shallow, it's a good spot to watch one of our local herons at work, though we have also seen otters in it, including a mother with three cubs.

By autumn, the high tides of the equinox, often pushed on by southwesterly gales, have broken in and cleaned out the weed, so the waters remain clear through the winter - until this year. We had been told by several of the older residents that the lochan used to freeze over in winter, when it had been a popular spot for skating, something we often quoted as local evidence of global warming, but we had never witnessed it....

....until this year when, during the very cold weather of the last few weeks, it almost froze over, but not enough for anyone to venture out on it.

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