Mull lambs

The views from the lambing fields are good at any time, but give them a bit of early evening light and the world becomes enchanted.

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Two Mull lambs looking for their mother – they were swiftly reunited.

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The hillocks in Scoma give a grand view back to Treshnish. It is the first time I have looked at Duill sitooterie, showing up quite well in the early evening sunlight.

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There are many pairs of twins in Scoma. The medieval walls of the old dwellings and enclosures make good shelter from the wind.

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Looking back towards the white strip of sand on Calgary Beach from Scoma. Beautiful!

The Ensay mug

One of our guests who stayed in Shieling last winter sent us some photographs of a mug she had made when she got home to Bristol – the Ensay mug. The mug is stoneware and, in Amanda’s own words, “The glaze was made entirely from rock found at the quarry at Ensay with seawater collected on our last day from Treshnish coast added. Igneous rock contains oxides which when made into glaze can withstand kiln firing temperatures.”

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Amanda is an artist working in Bristol.

I love the idea of elements of Treshnish/Ensay being taken and made into something so elemental and beautiful. Thank you Amanda for letting me include this in our blog, and for allowing me to use your photographs.

Another Aurora!

Seeing another Aurora last night was the icing on a very lovely Easter cake. Ish. I cannot remember a more beautiful Easter weekend. The weather has been wonderful, there are so many flowers appearing – not to mention the bird activity. My family had an Easter lunch picnic at the old boathouse down below the Treshnish Cottages. It was warm and we sat lazily in the sun watching our picnic cook on the fire in front of us. Scanning the sea for otters, but perhaps we were too noisy. As we walked back up the hill though, the curlews were calling, their distinctive sound filling the late afternoon air.

We had a great sunset, and then when we should have been asleep, we were out in the garden watching this. What an end to a wonderful weekend.

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There are more photographs from the weekend here.

PS Farmer joined us for the picnic but lambing is in full swing now and so he is out at all times of day and night in his maternity doula role.

The first pet lamb

The first pet lamb. A noisily hungry lamb whose mother has deserted her along the coast. The mother was nowhere to be seen, so Farmer (having watched all day) brought her home.

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Perfect weather for Easter Saturday. Brilliant blue sky and delicate flowers on the machair at Calgary. The beach was busy but not crowded. Some even went swimming!

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The moon on Mull

The clear skies last night provided me with a wonderful moon. I hadn’t photographed the moon before, but the moonlight was so bright I just had to try. I drove from Torloisk along Loch Tuath shortly before midnight. A bright golden moonlight was dancing on the stillness of the sea loch. The sky was so bright – but I didnt have my camera or tripod with me. Thankfully it was still bright when I got home.

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This field of daffodils are a bit of Hebridean farming history. In the 1970s a project was started to encourage farmers and crofters to diversify – into bulb growing! It didn’t last long, but we enjoy these incongruous rows of daffodils each spring.

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Lambing has started… As we scanned the ewes in February, we were able to bring the ewes in who were expecting twins and put them in one field on their own, the in-by flock of Cheviot and Zwartble ewes are in a second field and the older ewes expecting single lambs are in a third.

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This made it easier to make sure each lot had the right amount of supplementary feeding to maintain them and their unborn lambs. It does mean there will be less bluebells flowering in certain fields this year though – the constant balancing act between animal welfare and bio-diversity, which animal welfare has to win every time. So this year the field with the bluebell knolls is full of nibbling sheep.

The rest of the ewes are on the hill as usual, and Farmer walks the hill to check them. The ewes in the fields are checked several times a day, as he can easily access most parts of the fields on the quad. They get quite used to him buzzing through the fields at this time of year.

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The first set of twins were born yesterday, Blackface. You could see the hooded crows (hoodies) bobbing about around the ewe, just waiting for their chance to attack. It is quite brutal to experience the reality of lambing outside, with all the potential for nature’s intervention. We don’t have foxes on Mull, but lambs (and ewes) are susceptible to ravens, black backed gulls, hooded crows and eagles. Farmer has not seen a sea eagle take one of his lambs so he won’t say more than that on the subject, but he has seen the damage birds can do, and had to deal with the results of such attacks. Luckily, in this case the two lambs were soon up on their feet and feeding hungrily, so the hoodies flew off.

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It was lovely to see my first wood anemone yesterday.

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Sunsets in April

We are so lucky with the skies and the sunsets at Treshnish. In mid winter the sun sets over towards the Treshnish Isles, and by mid summer it has crept all the way up Coll and almost sets directly opposite Treshnish! It has made its way past the headland so it means we can enjoy a walk down to the old boathouse and watch it go down towards the Isle of Gunna, in between Coll and Tiree.

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Last night Farmer and I took the dogs down to retrieve a piece of Treshnish history I had found near the boathouse the day before, but accidentally left there – it was part of an oar, wrapped in leather which was held in place by dozens of tiny copper nails. Curlews were calling from the headland as we walked back up the hill.

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Blossom

It is always wonderful to see the first blackthorn blossom.

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The first frog spawn.

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Listen to the sea rushing in over the rocks.

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Find the first willow blossom.

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Catch the red of dried seaweed washed up on a fence line by a winter storm.

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Go searching for the hidden gems in the larch trees.

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Signs of spring

It is a family tradition to search for signs of spring. We found lots.

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A dog walk through the woodland is actually a serious scramble, as the winter has taken its toll on a lot of trees, felled by the strength of the winds, lying blocking the old paths. It is a long time since livestock have been able to graze in the woodland, and so the brambles have begun to take over adding an element of misery to our scramble at times.

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It was beautiful to be outside, in the silence of the stillness of this misty damp day. Stillness broken by the deep flap of the heron as it took off from a tree above me and flew across to the pines.

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It is never good to spot the first bracken frond. But we are looking forward to seeing the areas that we treated last summer, hopefully showing a successful lack of bracken this year.

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In the hazels near the Ensay burn mouth, a winter cache of nuts.

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Local wildlife #Mull

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I am trying to improve my local wildlife photographs, but only had one opportunity to photograph the hares in recent days. I crept round the side of the house, wanting to photograph them without the double glazing ‘filter’. Unfortunately the hens alerted the hares that a danger was approaching and 2 out of the 3 hares disappeared off up the road towards Prasad’s house. I didnt expect this one to wander within a couple of feet of me, round the corner of the house! He certainly moved fast when he saw me, and this was the only photograph I got.

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Farmer has put these hoggs back on the hill now. They have been so used to being together that they are still hanging out in a big gang, just on the other side of the hill fence this morning.

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It has been a good week for the local wildlife!

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The wheatear are back. The curlews are calling up by the loch so we hope they are beginning to nest there. The gulls are doing the same. Down in the wood there are signs (and sounds) of herons nesting. Guests in Middle cottage walked the Headland walk yesterday and saw the ‘resident’ golden eagles and a mother otter with two cubs along the shoreline between Crackaig and Haunn.

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The hazy skies have not helped with viewing any potential Aurora Borealis this week, and I bungled the shot of the year (a crescent moon tinged pink) last night. By the time I had focussed my attention on it, the clouds had gathered in and obscured it. I am not sure where the colour in the moon came from, but there was still colour in the sky an hour later.

Back in time

One of our neighbours lived and worked at Treshnish in the 1980’s, for the previous owners. She kindly showed me some of her photographs the other day and gave her permission for me to post them on the website.

There have been a few changes to the farmhouse since then – and to the cars that arrive in the farm square.

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And we don’t usually gather the sheep in off the hill and find a feral goat in amongst them. This fella was living along the cliffs beyond Haunn.

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