Wednesday 13 July 2016

Back to Coll - Snow Goose

Monday 11th July Fresh WNW dull AM to sunny PM

The ferry at 7:15am is easy enough on flat sea and on reaching Coll the cycle ride to the area where the snow geese are usually to be found is an easy ride too.
For the first time in a long time I do a day list of birds and before finding the snow geese I have seen around thirty species. I have also heard five corncrakes but as per usual no views of them.


The snow geese are in same field as last year. My memory tells me that back then I saw twenty plus a young bird. This year there are seventeen. They seem more animated this year and when a couple of walkers pass through the field they all fly out onto the sea.
I feel good about seeing this iconic bird this year.

It is the Seventieth anniversary of the ildfowl & Wetland trust and to celebrate they are reissueing an edition of the Paul Gallico – Sir Peter Scott book,The Snow Goose and seeing them close to and not in an enclosure or as a white spot in a flock of six thousand pink feets is a s good an experience of them as I am likely to get in Britain. Now watching the huge flocks in The States would be good. One day perhaps.
It feels good too as it is the bird for Doug Hilton's Snow Goose Wildlife Trust down in Kent.

Bird number 265, now twenty eight ahead of last year and one that I didn't count last year yet as they are category C2 on the BOU list they are countable and maybe I should update last year's list to 290. I won't though as I don't feel it right to update retrospectively, as with the marsh warbler this year.

Having watched the snow geese in the field and on the sea, and having seen them swim away around a headland, I take a closer look at a beach. It has a mass of plastic rubbish on it.

Two hours later I have cleared two thirds of the beach and there are three large fishing crates full of it to be collected.
I head back to the hidden bike and make my way to the south western tip of Coll.

Pushing the bike to the north of the RSPB reserve here I find another beach and spend some time on a cliff watching the birds go by; manx shearwaters, shags and gannets. I lay my head back and fall asleep for an hour or so.
On waking I look around me and the sun has come out. Everything looks so different with the light colour of the granite outcrops looking almost Pyrennean limestone white.
I go down to the rocky beach and collect all the plastic here too. This time though I collect it in two large carrier bags and take it back to the RSPB car park to deposit it in a large lidded skip. Then I return to the beach for some more and set up my tent to camp on the grassy area overlooking a very large and beautiful sandy beach that curves away to the south.

Leaving the tent to dry out after the other night's heavy rain, I walk along a headland and find a number of frog orchids Coeloglossum viride; tiny in stature with dark reddish mauve lines on the cowls.
In the evening cloud comes over as I settle into my now dry tent. The fresh breeze is making everything feel and look cool with the granite taking on a darker grey appearance. From where I am I can see over some ancient sand dunes to a high hill on the Isle of Tiree. I am asleep before sunset.

12.5 Miles 389 feet elevation up 350 feet elevation down

Green Year list is now at 265. As already stated, this is 28 ahead of this time last year!

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