They’re Back!

Yes – after an absence of six months – we’ve got Corncrake on the island again. Calling males are making their presence felt on the headland by the cottage and in the fields to the west. Because of their abrupt departure in autumn and their sudden arrival in the spring – and their preference for leaving and arriving in the dark – tradition on the island was that these elusive birds hibernated underground in the winter – only emerging in the warmer weather of spring. We now know that, amazingly, young from the first brood head south to their wintering grounds in West Africa as soon as they are fit enough to leave Tiree. Heading south alone on a journey they have never been on before, they cross oceans and deserts to reach lush grasslands in West Africa. Geo-locater studies have revealed that later in the winter, Scottish birds all then cross over the Congo rainforest to spend the mid-winter period in grasslands on the eastern side of the forest. They then seem to head back to West Africa once again before heading north to Scotland in spring. All of this seems quite remarkable for a bird that would rather run across a Tiree road than fly!

Calmer Waters

After a week of glorious weather, when each successive day has been calm and warm, today has been wild – with winds gusting over 40 mph. It’s been a bit nail-biting because today was to be our first change-over day, and our cottage guests were due to leave on the ferry this morning. Thankfully, all went well and our guests were able to leave on time. Our new guests have arrived and seem unshaken by the ‘lumpy’ crossing. Hopefully, the weather will settle and we’ll return to calmer waters.

A Vivid Frontier

The landscape of Tiree has been described as a ‘vivid frontier of land, sea and sky’ – and on a day like today you can begin to appreciate the perfect balance of these three visual elements. This beautiful island – twenty-two miles west of the nearest point on the Scottish mainland, and at the same latitude as southern Alaska and the same longitude as the border between Spain and Portugal, can be the perfect place to re-charge and re-create. We may only be the twentieth largest island in the UK but we punch well above our weight as a destination for relaxing reflection.