Sunday 26 July 2015

A Little Bit of This and That

Those of you who also read the blog of my brother CJ, John, Scriptor Senex will have a reasonable idea of what has been happening in Eagleton over the last few weeks whilst CJ has been here and since Jo arrived earlier in the week.

The Nighthawk has had its brain re-programmed and is now as right as rain and raring to take me and my visitors wherever they may wish to wander. This particular journey was with CJ to Callanish.

CJ and I went to the shore at Barvas accompanied by magnificent skies:

 and whilst CJ searched for pebbles I photographed the surfers

CJ and Jo at the Butt of Lewis with CJ using Jo as a photographer's rest to photograph a gannet

On the way from Ness I was left musing as to what the Council was doing allowing such a plethora of road signs on a main road where the high volume of traffic (note position of tongue when uttering this statement) could cause a pile-up whist drivers' concentration was distracted. 

If anyone thinks that the people of Lewis in general and Ness in particular are staid and unimaginative then think again. However the real reason I included this was so that Spesh would suddenly realise that David had a job to do before this 'summer' is over.

The weather has been such that the young sparrow have been sheltering from the strong cold winds and taking advantage of the stones warmed by the sun at the same time.

 or sheltering in the lee of the garage. It's a hard life arriving in the world to a 'summer' like this.

Monday 20 July 2015

Feeding The Bairns

One of the things I learned from evidence led in a planning inquiry I was involved in many many moons ago was that the common tern is a highly adaptable bird: disturb its nesting colony and it will just move somewhere else and establish another one. I've lived in Eagleton for 23 years and the terns have rarely flown over my house on the way from the feeding grounds to the nesting site. This year they have been flying non-stop for several months over the house. 

Terns fly very quickly and with a flight that is either extremely graceful (with the wind and with nothing in their beak) or extremely jerkily (against the wind and with a fish in their beak for the young).  Either way they are a difficult bird to photograph when they are in flight. Anyway in between the rain I've managed a few shots:

The distance between the possible breeding sites and the feeding grounds is between one and one and a half miles:

I have no idea how many flights a day each tern flies but several months from 0400 'till 2100 one is talking of a great many miles.

Saturday 18 July 2015

A Post for Adrian

Adrian likes tractors, HDR and macro photographs of insects.

I like tractors, have been converted to the artistic merits of HDR (used sparingly) and have always enjoyed photographing insects (and just about everything else for that matter).

So here's the old mill and a tractor at the end of the road over the moor from Eagleton: a view I see every time I go into Stornoway:

The tractor appears to have been abandoned but I think it's still alive.

However it probably started life when photography was largely black and white so I thought I'd do an 'artistic' B&W version in Photomatix.

As for the Red Admiral on the Dame's Violet these were taken from 4.5 metres through the kitchen window using a Canon bridge camera at 50X (about 215mm). I'll never be able to compete with Adrian for detail so I just go for opportunity.

Friday 17 July 2015

Brighter Morn

At 0630 this morning it was pouring very heavily (so CJ tells me). I was up before that but didn't look outside and went back to bed and slept until 0710 when I rose.......to a beautiful sunny morning.

It was a

We went to town and around 1100 there were people actually drinking coffee in the square in the open air! OK so they weren't in open necked shirts and shorts but they were in the open air! That's not a sight you see very often in Stornoway. 

The Marina was full with many yachts from afar including La Puerta from Denmark. The marquee is one of a number in the Lews Castle Grounds for the Hebridean Celtic Festival which is on this weekend.

Saturday 11 July 2015

Official: We Are A Caveat

This morning CJ and I were watching the weather forecast. Given that the weather today was totally pish (a technical term meaning less than clement - by a very very big margin) I'm not sure we needed to be told. Carol Kirkwood (a Scottish weather presenter, employed by the Met Office and best known for forecasting the weather for BBC Breakfast and various other programmes) ended by saying that there was a caveat in relation to today's national weather: The Western Isles. 

I know I'm beginning to sound obsessed by the weather but if you have for the first time in decades started growing vegetables and so on this early summer has been very intimidating and rather disheartening. However today I did harvest my first vegetable: a radish. CJ and I had half each at lunchtime.

Now all I have to do is remember why I am growing curly kale. I had some last year and I must have liked it enough to grow some. Ah well that's the advantage of the internet.

Anyway the weather does give me the opportunity to show you some of the rather splendid haar photos.

Sunday 5 July 2015

One For Mark: Garve Station

For many years I have been meaning to photograph this station with its extra wide gap between the two railway lines. I had been told nearly 40 years ago when passing with a colleague who was a train enthusiast that the gap was to enable fishing boats carried on goods trains to pass. Having plenty of time when going for the ferry on Monday last with CJ I stopped and took some photos.

The following is an extract from the Highland Regional Council's website entitled Am Baile:

Garve is one of the stops on the Skye Railway which opened in 1870. The station was designed by Murdoch Paterson and has a fine lattice-sided foot bridge across the line. 
A feature of the station is that there is a particularly wide gap between the up and down lines. The original plan for the Skye Railway was not just to carry passengers, goods and fish between east and west but to transport fishing boats as well. This was to avoid the dangers of the journey round the north of Scotland. There was the safer alternative of the route through the Caledonian Canal but this was expensive. The idea was that vessels would be craned out of the water at the Dingwall Canal on to special wagons and transported across the country to be lowered in to the sea at Strome Ferry. The extra wide gap at Garve was to allow the boat trains to pass other passenger and goods trains safely. The cranes were ordered and it was hoped that the railway would be ready for the early summer when the fishing fleet needed to be moved. However when it became clear that the railway would not open until July the cranes were postponed until the following year. That was the last that was heard of the "Fishers' Boats" scheme, the only legacy the gap at Garve Station. 
Garve had the possibility of becoming a major junction. Twice in the late nineteenth century plans were proposed to build a railway line from Garve to Ullapool. In 1890 the route was given Royal Assent but disagreements between the rival railway companies meant that it never came to fruition.
Looking East to Inverness
Looking west to Kyle of Lochalsh and Skye 

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Don't You Love The Weather?

Today much of the UK is basking under the hottest day on record and, indeed, even the Isle of Lewis has managed into double figures (I recorded 19.3ÂșC although I wasn't in all day to keep an eye on it) and only the occasional thunderstorm with flash floods in Stornoway:

Dark skies over Stornoway
A thundery orange tinged sky looking South down the Minch to The Shiant Isles
However May and June combined show that for Stornoway they were just about the worst months for weather overall since records began in 1873 as a post yesterday by Dr Eddy Graham stated:
Posted by Dr. Eddy Graham on 30 June 2015, 8:59 PM

It is official, May and June 2015 together will go down in the met history books as two of the most awful months (of their namesakes) ever recorded in Stornoway.

Overall, the May+June 2015 period was the 2nd wettest on record since 1873 in Stornoway, the 4th dullest (lack of sunshine) and 10th coolest since 1900. Put altogether, these are by far the worst weather statistics for May & June combined since records began in Stornoway in the mid 1850s