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Our Island Fling 2024


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Posted (edited)

The time had come and all was booked.

As the auld sang put it.

"By Tummel and Loch Rannoch and Lochaber I will go,

by heather track wi' heaven in their wiles"

If it's thinkin' in your inner heart the braggart's in my step
You've never smelled the tangle o' the Isles."

For non British 'Tangle' is not a mess of string or wool but more a 'smell'.

Much like one gets as we step from the aircraft in Africa with that certain something in the air.


However our trip skipped the familiar route north and more or less, a lot less, retraced our familiar drive from home on Isle of Man to England on the late evening boat and after a nights sleep a pleasant drive north via Loch Lomond and Inverary to LochGilphead and Kilmichael Valley for a six night stay in 'Wildcat Cottage' on the Bradan Estate.

Like this only in reverse.





The drive was pleasant enough in decent weather despite worrying road signs  showing 'yellow warning' of imminent Heavy Rain.

The cruise over was pleasant with a couple of sightings of Dolphins and a possible minke whale.The overnight in Travelodge was good and only marred by the offer of an awful breakfast  in a Motorway 'Costa/Moto' dump which we passed up and drove a furthr nine miles to the lovely Westmoreland Farm Shop for delicious poached eggs on Toast and proper coffee.

We arrived at around 14.00 or so and settled in to our new home with little hope of the eponymous feline as a neighbour but we ARE in Pine Marten country and there are said to be Beavers nearby. Fingers crossed.

Our plan from here is to cross from Oban on Tuesday where we are looking forward to meeting up with Martin @Soukouson the Ferry to Barra for a FOUR (thanks @Soukous)  night stay. From there we head up to North Uist and our annual stay at the most comfortable bird hide in the world. From there another Ferry via Skye to Applecross before a final week near Kincraig in the Spey valley with a side trip to Moray firth and a day dolphin watching with @Dave Williamswe hope.

Fingers and everything crossed. Not birding but have already seen our first Red-breasted Merganser.

Edited by Galana
Arithematical error corrected
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I have been looking forward to your annual trip to Scotland. It looks like an interesting itinerary.

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12 hours ago, Galana said:

Our plan from here is to cross from Oban on Tuesday where we are looking forward to meeting up with Martin @Soukouson the Ferry to Barra for a three night stay.


Oh my, you're on the road already. I leave on Sunday and make my way north. 

Are you only on Barra for 3 nights? I thought it was 4. No matter.

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Looking forward to this @Galana


I always enjoy your tales from the highlands and islands.

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Dave Williams

It's all going to plan so far Fred. Look forward to catching up soon. Have a great adventure meanwhile.

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6 hours ago, Soukous said:

Are you only on Barra for 3 nights? I thought it was 4. No matter.

Good to see somebody looking after me.

It's 4. In on Tuesday and out Saturday am. to Uist.

On Ardmhor-Eriskay crossiing at 11.10 . A pint in the Politician for auld lang Sein and on up to Lochside.

We are in Kilmicael valley and the rain has turned intermittent. Amused ourselves looking for a loch that is no longer there.

And a Co-op that has moved as ell as a petrol station that has not but may as well have done as they no longer have e5. Thankfully the islands still do.


Safe drive up. Very few roadworks as far as A82 at Tarbert. After that you may have problems at Tyndrum.




Strange country. They even keep the booze under lock and key in Supermarkets.



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57 minutes ago, Galana said:

Strange country. They even keep the booze under lock and key in Supermarkets.



Perhaps they knew you were coming:D

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On 5/23/2024 at 4:28 PM, TonyQ said:

Perhaps they knew you were coming:D

I think they must have as the weather also turned dreich!

But I did dodge the showers to do some 'externals' of our hut.



The setting down to Knapdale and Mull of Kintyre, on a clear day.



Wildcat cottage (akas "The Bide awee Rest home". Spacious indeed.



Sitting out area with covered BBQ, midges permitting.



A friendly Siskin drops by to dry out.



No such luck for the Heron but the sawbill is not bothered.



The ultimate madness. D.I.F. We are on the largest raised peat bog in Scotland.


Initial report is that the bed is one of the nicest we have used. It redeems the rest of the place which, sadly, could be better.


Mustn't complain.


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Our time here comes to an end tomorrow. Not the best of choices. It just does not work for us. The bed I would take home with us. Wonderful and comfortable but the rest is just not up to snuff. It seems we are in a different market.

Well equipped but poorly executed. Some of the 'construction' tecniques set my teeth on edge. If they used a joiner he should be shot. If they actualy PAID him for his work THEY should be shot.

I don't think the posh owners have any concept of self catering. A Teapot without a cosy is next to useless. We do NOT subscribe to the scruffy modern trend on sticking  a Tetley tea bag in a mug of boiling water. I was taught the art of tea making by none other than Miss Twining herself. And how can a man have his boiled egg for breakfast if there are no bloody Egg cups? Or a whisk for making an omelette?

DO people really need a Hot tub in the garden when it is pi$$ing down with rain?

Anyway tomorrow we head for Barra from Oban.


Where on arrival we look forward to dining with @Soukousin the Castlebay Hotel as we are sharing the same Ferry and by coincidence using the same B&B.

Our Hostess, Mrs Angela McNeil does a mean poached egg too.



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A very misty crossing but we did see about 5 Common Dolphin and many birds.

Dined well. I had Langoustines.

Digs and hostess very welcoming.

A useful day out today. Corncrakes and cuckoos calling.

More to follow. My lips are sealed.

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Friday 31st May.

Our stay with Mrs McNeil has been as enjoyble as before but sadly must come to an end tomorrow.

A truly wonderful B&B with all comforts and excellent host.

Everything we wished for took place.

Last year I used the phrase 'Cornflakes and Corncrakes at breakfast' as this was our experience sans camera at the table.

Was it a one off or would we be lucky enough to repeat it? I had a point to prove to @Soukousat the very least.


The B&B is simply called "108" as that is the postal address and here is the location:...


NO! That's not our room. That's the view from our bedroom over 'Corncrake Country'. Sleepiing had be difficult when they are calling.





Our room and comfortable 'guest lounge'.



Our near neighbours.


The view from my bedroom window one morning....





Whilst breakfast brought a change of guard.




Who went to sleep on the job.




Our look out station is well laid out.  Breakfast room with a real view.




Not doing birds this year but a few force themselves on us from time to time.






My resistance is low sometimes.




Especially when a Goldie chooses to come by.DSCN5354.JPG.ce085b792a37d72910448864833dc5af.JPG


As stated our time is over here and tomorrow we drive all of 64 miles to our next stop at Lochside, Hosta. Via Eriskay with a customary call at 'The Politician'.




Until then....

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Wonderful @Galana

I don’t think I have ever seen a photo of a Corncrake in flight.

And the baby Shelduck are very cute!

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, TonyQ said:

I have ever seen a photo of a Corncrake in flight.

I have seen them fly but like you it is not easy to snap them.



The Snipe came back after the lawn was cut and promptly went back to sleep in the sunshine.


Later our hostess Angela, was in the lounge and a Corncrake wandered over so she snapped it with her phone. She could not ring us as there was only one phone and it was in use as a camaera.:unsure:

Edited by Galana
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Posted (edited)

Headed north.


× DSCN5380.JPG.854597308a3dd9645d9f9510b30610a1.JPG

After the lawn was cut our local Snipe returned to approve the quality and promptly took a nap in the evening sunshine.


And now it was time to catch the ferry to Erisay as we make our way north.





Booking is advisable but it is capable of carry a good number.



We passed the locals basking at high tide and they waved as we went by.



This was a bit wooden in his welcome we thought.


And sowe arrive at the most comfortable bird hide we know.








Everything one needs for a comfortable stay.


After dinner we ventured out to say hello to the local widlife.

Photos will have to wait as my software is playing up. Windws 11. Rubbish.


It seems the Snipe has followed us north as he is making a lot of noise outside as I send this.


Edited by Galana
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“Everything one needs for a comfortable stay.”

Indeed, and do I see a bottle of Australian Red ready for the evening?


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One does try to maintain a certain standard when travelling abroad.


And afterwards we went out to Hirta viewpoint to meet the neighbours alhough I am not sure if I can be too keen on the first one.


The rest were not too bad though.





The white background is a local Ewe.


In the morning although there was a light fog and poor light I did get to indulge my love of Owls which are a big part of the draw of the Hebrides for me.






That will do for now. We did see two nice Hen Harrier, a pair of Eagles and an Arctic Skua as well as various waders.

And of course true to 'my' rule, 


A Bunting in reeds must be a Reed Bunting.


A touch blurred as he was clinging on for dear life in the brisk breeze.


A decent first day overall and hopefully the weather will improve tomorrow.

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A few days and Owls aplenty. In particular we have a local pair nesting near us and he is kept busy bring in food. Not yet certain if still with eggs but 'she' rarely comes off other than for exercise so guess hatching has not happened.

And of course it is hard not to take a few shots of him that may present a better photo.






And on our wanderings to 'Cheese Bay' which was a blank for Otters or Divers we did manage to get close to three Red Deer so captured the moment.


Almost sprained my neck in twisting hard to try for a WT Eagle that came by as I was driving. Next time.



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Wonderful to see the Owls in flight.

I think we should return to N.Uist!

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9 hours ago, TonyQ said:

think we should return to N.Uist!

I think so too. One plus for the somewhat chilly weather is no bloody midges.

More productive today although still baffled by lack of Divers. A possible joint sighting from the Eriskay ferry with @Soukousis all I have managed so far. Martin got the shot but I have not had confirmation of GN Divers, 3, in flight yet. We parted on Saturday after a fare well pint in 'The Politician'. All changed there too with the staff having no clue as to the places history or to the whereabouts of the souvenire display. (The Haggis fritter was good though.)


Today I got the shot I sought of the Owl posing on a post. Saw possible fledgeling get a vole, and watched a nice Hen Harrier hunting and getting  a meal and two Red Deer stags in velvet. A second viewing of an Arrctic Skua was a highlight on Committee Road.









Hen Harrier. Needed more speed.



Bambi's Dad.



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Today, 6th June 2024 also by coincidence my dear Mother's birthday, I was determined to break off from birds into landscape.

On my travels near LochMaddy I passed this Memorial as I have done many times before.


Today the Flag of the Union was erected and flying in the mild breeze.


I think it says far more than I can today so will leave it for you.









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Well that was yesterday. The 80th Anniversary of the 'D Day' landings. Operation Overlord.


But this day I did keep my determination for some alter bird shots to show the Island of North Uist.


First. The view east from our chalet towards the Early warning Golf Balls with the track know as "St.Kilda viewpoint' where on a clear day you can see the outlieing post of the British Isles.


In the view we often see Hen Harrier, SE Owls and both species of Eagle hunting the slopes.


We use the track most evenings for closeups.



Nearby is the loch Scolpaig with its Castle. The walk around is a good source of birds.



A rare sighting  of the endangered Hebridean Blue Grouse used in the manufacture of Haggis.



The not so rare, except this year, Red-breasted Merganser. First one we have found this trip.


Sorry. I just cannot resist these friendly and photogenic Owls.

Seen up the St. Kilda track just behind our residence..


First a sitter or two.

I love the expressions on their faces.




Now for something completely different.

I tried to position myself upwind of his hunting range in the hope that a slower approach would enable even my lack of skill to get some shots much like the last view seen by a victim Vole.






That's it for now.


Tomorrow we rise early for the 07.30 ferry to Uig on the Isle of Skye and our drive to the Applecross Peninsular for a week in a cottage where we have not been before.













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Posted (edited)

Saturday 8th June.

Rose with the Owls at 04.30 to pack and catch the Ferry to UIg on Skye for relocation.


Boarded on time,



And sailed on time away from Lochmaddy.



From the Observation Deck.


Whilst we kept a lookout for seabirds and saw lots but no photo worthy sightings I did get lucky with Mammals.



Not the best but hey, NO complaints.


Hope to do as well next week with @Dave Williams




We made good time and had to chase a late running Lord of the Isles off the berth so that we could dock and get off..




On our onward drive after an excellent lunch we happened up a Cock Teal all alone and could not resist.



Then up and over the mountain road to Applecross in mixed weather.





My first cuckoo of the trip that sat long enough for a shot.


and we arrived at our new home for the next week.


With a garden view like this from the lounge one could stay forever. That is Skye over the water.


The rest of the cottage will follow. As we moved in I was tempted to leave immediately. ;)

It is far too GOOD for the likes of us despite the awful weather currently preventing me placing my Trail Cameras for some guests.

Photos follow to allow you to judge if we should stay.

Edited by Galana
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Our new base in Airdinair, Applecross is a new place for us and our first impressions are warm.

(More than can be said of the weather.:()


Situated on the isolated coastline with views to Skye and even Lewis on a clear day it won't ppeal to every taste but we loved it at first sight.



It even has its own beach of sorts.  Those are the Cuillins of Skye in the background.


Inside is very homely indeed. One of the nicest we have ever rented.


The very cosy lounge wards off the driecht weather outside. A nice place to enjoy a nice glass or two as a nightcap.



The Dining room is seperate and just as nicely furnished.



Meals are prepared in the small but extremely well equipped kitchen whilst enjoying the view on a clear night.



Upstairs are two bedrooms with welcoming matresses etc.,



Whilst one sleeps well knowing the garden is in safe hands as my Camera can testify.




The resolution varies on video so the last three are captures from Video.  work in progress.

Time was 01.08 sono way was I waiting up that late/early.


Sticking to birds gives a restful night.

Short-eared Owls are much more accommodating.DSCN5756.JPG.5b8fc16cea4040ea1780732bfee4a754.JPG.



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You'll be heartened to hear that the weather on Harris & Lewis was equally dreich. Bitterly cold, strong winds and lots of rain. 

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Not heartened. We share your disappointment.


It has brightened a little now. Even the seals are drying out.



And whilst Applecross is disappointingly busy our digs are lovely and some views worth the effort.



Towrds the south end lies this little village.


Whilst further north we enter Upper Loch Torridon, wel the road alongside it.


We have yet to find a reported Sea Eagle's nest.

This is the view of Torridon, some of the oldest rocks in Britain with Ben Eighe in the distance. A Mountain on which I cut my climbing teeth before a lot of you were even born.

Eagles and Wildcats lived up there 60 years ago.


Close to home I am getting to know my Martens better.



I think I have managed to train one to eat facing the camera. I need the resouces of my home PC to process them better

so will only share one with you here.



Mice are even harder to train.


Two more days here.

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