A beautiful day – sunny and warm. While out walking and exploring on the beach below the cottage we spotted a small scrape, with a couple of oystercatcher eggs, on a patch of grass on the headland. The parents were in attendance and diverting any intrusion by unsuspecting visitors.
During a lovely walk along the beach in bright sunshine this afternoon I came upon patches of this rugged and hardy coastal plant on the headland just below the cottage. Also known as sea pinks, these cheerful, bright plants, with small lollipop flowers, won’t balk at poor soil, exposed sites or a good lashing from the wind. Just as well.
We’re hearing, and seeing, lots of corncrakes around the cottage. Males are calling from various points along the headland and in the surrounding fields. Last year there were 330 calling males counted in June. The thriving population on Tiree represents around a third of all the corncrakes in Britain and is a testament to all the corncrake-friendly management put in over the years by the islands’ crofters and farmers.
Found these bright flowers growing in the marram grass by the path that leads from the cottage to the beach. Commonly known as ‘Granny’s Toenails’, ‘Butter and Eggs’, ‘Eggs and Bacon’ and ‘Hen and Chickens’ which refer to the egg-yolk yellow flowers and reddish buds. Strange names for a delightful flower.
It’s always nice to see the Pharos again – anchored for an overnight stay. A regular visitor to this deep water anchorage opposite the cottage – the Pharos is multi-functional service tender operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board to maintain their lighthouses and navigation buoys.
Down on the beach this afternoon looking at the strand line. Interesting items left by the receding tide. There were lots of shells and driftwood, sea glass, seaweed, small plastic items and feathers. Rich communities of invertebrates live in the seaweed that builds up on the strand line making it important for feeding birds.
Nurdles were in the news last week. These small plastic pellets, about the size of a lentil, are used in the plastics industry to make nearly all our plastic products. Industrial spills and mishandling can mean they end up in the sea. They create background pollution and are eaten by marine animals and seabirds. We get lots of interesting things washed up on the beach below the cottage – shells of all varieties and sizes, pieces of ceramics, sea glass, driftwood and seaweed. We even get the occasional shoe!!! Thankfully, the beach is nurdle-free.
We’ve heard a few male Corncrakes calling in the fields around the cottage. They’ve been arriving on the island since last week, and the warmer weather has obviously encouraged them to start their search for a mate. A few cross the road, by the cottage, to find the best calling places on the headland overlooking the beach. They have to run the gauntlet of traffic to achieve these prime spots.
The sun is shining and the celandine are creating a yellow carpet in the fields around the cottage. Despite the recent snow, and the hailstones last night, this wee hardy flower keeps blooming – as Wordsworth said, “there is a flower, the lesser celandine,
that shrinks, like many more, from cold and rain;
and, the first moment that the sun may shine,
bright as the sun himself, ’tis out again!”