Dare we believe winter's ravages have passed?

11 February 2010

The New Year had an unusually frosty reception on Tanera, with the temperature staying well below freezing for most of the month. Generators were very reluctant to start, and Bill had to do a lot of skilful juggling of batteries in order to keep the holiday lets supplied with heat and light.

The boys plodding through the snow in the hope of greener pasture

The cattle needed to move to fresh grazing, but the steep cliff path was impassable, with a two inch coating of ice and staying upright at all wasn’t easy for us bipeds. So they marked time for a few days by browsing happily around Tigh an Quay, pruning an assortment of garden shrubs with no apparent ill effects. The garden was frantic with dozens of blackbirds and fieldfares feeding on the carpet of windfall apples. Sadly, demand outstripped supply, and the mob moved on, leaving the snowdrops to push up their brave white buds.

The north end of the island was visited by over 60 grey lag geese, which were able to find a bit of grazing, but after a heavy fall of snow on the 5th, they too moved on. At the water’s edge the herons’ were able to carry on with their solitary fishing, gathering in a gang of 20 strong to rest and digest between tides, out of the bitter north wind.

Tanera under a good covering of the white stuffSong thrushes, finding their usual source of snails etc frozen and unavailable, moved down to the beaches to feed on winkles among the seaweed. The loud tap of a heavy duty winkle shell being bashed on a rock sounded like very hard work. The outcome of this endeavour is unknown. We haven’t seen a wren for weeks, and hope that they have been surviving under a protective blanket of snow, deep in the bracken.

By the 27th of January the frost was out of the ground, and a dunnock gave a sudden burst of song below the house, where the gorse is in full flower again. Dare we believe winter is loosing its grip?

Tanera Mòr, Summer Isles, Achiltibuie, by Ullapool, Ross-Shire, Scotland IV26 2YN

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