Saturday 9th July Fresh to Strong SE. - PM Heavy rain, cleared in evening to cloudy but dry
Once off the ferry this afternoon I cycle to the RSPB reserve at the south west corner of the island. The rain is heavy but at least there is only a light north easterly.
A female hen harrier is quartering the moorland despite the rain. Four rock doves, real ones not the tatty feral pigeons back in England, fly past becoming Bird Number 263 on the Year list.
Into the RSPB visitor's centre with it's sandy floor, to dry off and have some late lunch. No chairs, I sit on a plastic box full of leaflets and read a book my Dad has given me, My father and Other – Working Class Football Heroes by Gary Imlach. I read about Gary's footballing father, Stewart Imlach and his part in Nottingham Forest's FA Cup Final victory in 1959. A very emotional read and almost unputdownable. Swallows come in to get away from the rain and later I see the youngsters sitting on a wall.
Unfortunately I am feeling very tired and I close the book, put my head in my hands resting against the wall and fall asleep.
Awake again, the rain has stopped but a strong south easterly has sprung up. I walk around the machair, that special flower rich habitat so well known on the Hebridean islands. Immediately I hear a corncrake crexing . . . . crex crex . . . . crex crex........
Two snipe are drumming in the dull skies and meadow pipits and reed buntings are on fence posts.
The latter are soon dispersed when a superb grey with black wing tipped male hen harrier flies past.
Down to the beach I look at a good number of pyramidal orchids on the way. It is a very low tide and rocky outcrops stretch out into a calm sea; the area being sheltered on this the north west side of the island.
Back at the visitor's centre I talk to the RSPB warden. The bird I had hoped for, spotted crake is not present. There had been one a number of weeks back but it hadn't been heard whipping since. Oh well, it was worth the effort.
Last year I came to the reserve on my tour of all of the 234 RSPB reserves and was surprised when on arriving I immediately heard a spotted crake. Shame history hasn't repeated itself but you can't win them all.
I start to head back to the ferry and whilst walking into the strong wind a couple of twite land on a fence nearby; Bird number 264.
More corncrakes are calling as I walk the flat road by the island's airport.
By now the strong wind is behind me which makes a pleasant change. The ride back to the harbour is quickly done with a stop to watch a pair of red-throated divers on a small loch.
Into the harbour waiting room to read and wait for the ferry back to Oban.
14.64 Miles 457 feet elevation up 457 feet elevation down
The Green Year list is now at 264, fully twenty seven ahead of this time last year!