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August & September on Lady Anne Wildlife Cruises

Photo courtesy of Otter's Edge Campground

Everyone seems to be agreed that the colour of the heather this August was more intense than ever, and it provided a stunning backdrop to our cruises past the hills of Ronay and Eaval. Later in the month the bracken in certain areas (particularly Bagh Moraig) died off and left a peculiarly strong shade of burnt umber which complemented the purple beautifully. It set me thinking about the colours of tartan cloth, which in the early days were particular to localities, rather than any specific Scottish clan. Having said that it does appear that the MacDonald of Clanranald tartan most nearly replicates the heather, if not the bracken. The Dress Act of 1746 ( also known as the Disclothing Act) had made the wearing of Highland Dress illegal in Scotland, north of the Highland line, part of a series of measures attempting to bring the clans under government control. Essentially wearing tartan in any way was punishable by six months imprisonment for a first offence and seven years transportation for a second offence. Wow.

In amongst the heather the red deer began forming into larger groups and as the month went on a few of the larger stags, took on a darker appearance in readiness for the rut. The younger stags are forming their own groups too. And on several occasions we have watched groups of up to 15 swimming from island to island. Magic.

There were generally fewer black throated divers around as August went on, but good numbers of red throated divers as we awaited the return of the Great Northern divers. Good numbers of redshanks and curlews, and of course our two largest prey birds, the golden eagle, and the white tailed eagle, seen a number of times occupying the same air space. The golden eagle comes out on top. We often see two pairs of white tailed eagles on Ronay, and three or more young birds. We were watching a young eagle perched near the boat on the last day of the month, when a large basking shark was spotted nearby, swimming lazily on the surface, – an indication that the plankton layer has risen. Also a number of good sightings of otters.

Finally, as the month ended our reconditioned engine came back from the mainland and we fired her up on the last of the month, running as sweet as a nut. Boom Shankar.

We began September full of optimism that our cruises would continue for another six weeks or so, but our optimism faded almost as rapidly as the vivid August colours amid a run of strong tides and wind and rain, which conspired to keep us in the harbour for some days along with most of the fishing fleet.

The 8th of September was very warm, 23° recorded on Grimsay! Super photogenic golden eagle action, and one of the very few Great Skua sightings of the summer.

11th of September - Huge amounts of gannets diving up and down the coast! A sign of major marine action? No! A sign of another five days of wind and rain!

18th of September - huge splash out at sea and while we are motoring out to investigate, we encounter Risso’s dolphins, not the source of the splash, but so entertaining and distracting that we join in with them for awhile.

All through the month the one constant feature has been the appearance of white tailed eagles – males, females, adults, juveniles, big ones, huge ones, some inquisitive, some snooty – a bit like people really! And the deer in increasingly large groups as they assemble for the forthcoming rut.

Photo by Otter's Edge Campground

Next thing the autumn equinox is upon us, and yet more unsettled weather … and suddenly we are noticing a big decrease in holidaymakers and are struggling to fill the boat . Where did that come from !?

Without having been expecting it, we find that our regular trips have come to an end for another season.

See you next year!

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Enjoyed reading the blog bringing back vivid memories of previous boat trips and times on the island in general. Wish I'd had time to make it back this year after an early summer visit but life & work seemed to conspire to get in the way. Thinking of a trip over sometime in the winter though, fingers crossed. Thanks for the blog and for the many previous boat trips. Always a great experience.

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