Òran Uisge – Skye Nature Blog

Òran Uisge

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Òran Uisge (Gaelic for song of water) is a wild flower meadow which runs along the banks of the river Roskhill. The meadow is part of the original croft now owned by Sue and Warren. The croft, Number 1 Roskhill has not been grazed by livestock for over 20 years.

The meadow has over 50 varieties of wild flower, which first appear in May right through to late September. These range from a sea of bluebells in May, three types of orchid in June and July and Meadowsweet and Red Valarian in late summer. The scents from the flowers can be intoxicating and can lift your spirits.

     I enjoy writing this blog because, I love nature. I would like to inspire others to love nature too. The love of nature is a wonderful gift that, gives you free pleasure for your entire life.

Favourite quote

“If you truly love Nature,

you will find beauty

everywhere”

Van Gogh

 

 

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Oran Uisge- Song of water (Wild Flower Meadow)

 

Happy New Year 2019

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MacLeods table and Loch Dunvegan

   We have made a bench for the top of the Roskhill lane. We will put it in place in April. We can see views of the MacLeods Tables and Loch Bracadale. If we look to the north in the winter we will see the northern lights.

Great British Bird Count 2019 

Birds seen visiting the bird table today within a one hour period.

3 Blackbirds, 2 Blue tits, 1 Great tit, 2 Coal tits, 2 Dunnocks, 3 Robins, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Green finches, 3 Siskins, 1 Hooded Crow (visited the garden, not feeders), 6 Sparrows, 1 Starling, 1 Common Redpol, 4 Chaffinches.

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siskin

 

January 29

We went for a wonderful walk today, along the side of  Loch Dunvegan. The sun was setting at 4.40pm. The sky was full of colours.

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Loch Dunvegan

January 30

Heavy snowfall overnight, a total contrast from yesterday. Fantastic morning for taking photographs.

Winter Morning

The sun shines in an azure sky

lighting sparkles as the minutes pass by

Bright and crisp, clear and pure

A beautiful vision with great allure

SW

 

 

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Views from the top of Roskhill lane

  • MacLeods Table
  • Dunshee
  • Snow covered Fir branches

February 4

The snow is slowly thawing. Roskhill lane is like a skating rink. The is very low in the sky and does not melt the ice. Very slippy.

February 5

Rain, Rain, Rain! with high winds. Feels much colder than 7 degrees.

February 8

Storm Eric arrived today. Very high winds and pouring rain. The river was very swollen. Hoping for better weather tomorrow.

February 9

Beautiful day walked from Orbost to Forse (waterfall). Fantastic views.

We erected two more bird boxes in the garden on the conifers. Hopefully blue tits and great tits will nest in them.

February 10

Found a beautiful clump of snowdrops behind the escalonia hedge in the garden today.

 

Happy New Year 2018

 

January

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Dunshee from the lane

 Heavy snowfall overnight.

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January 2018 a “Snowy” month

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The lane from Dunshee to Oran Uisge – wild flower meadow.

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View from the top of Roskhill lane

February 2018

More Snow View from the top of Roskhill lane.

Freezing temperatures

Beautiful sunny day today. We planted two apple trees, one plum and one pear today. Hopefully they will start to show signs of life soon.

 

 

Heard the Tawny owl last night. Hope it finds a mate in the Spring.

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The large conifer was alive with small song birds today, Spring will soon be here. Blue tits and Great tits.

April 

At last a week of warm weather.

The Cuckoo has returned this morning the 15th which, is the earliest date since we have lived in Roskhill. The bird prefers to lay eggs in the Willow Warblers nest which are located along the river bank.

The cuckoo flower has opened.  In folk law this is a sign that the Cuckoo is arriving. Hence the name.

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The skylark can be heard from the meadow on the common grazing, such a beautiful song.

A wonderful tune to listen to is

“The Lark” by Moving Hearts.

The first flowers of  Spring opened today in the beautiful warm sunshine. The  Lesser celandine blooms look like tiny stars amongst the grass.

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We planted a Damson tree today. It has very few blooms on it, but hopefully next year Damson jam.

May

I was listening to May Morning Dew by Moving Hearts this morning. What a wonderful tune on the Low D whistle.

The weather has been quite changeable and cold this week.

The yellow primroses are flowering on the far bank of the river. They catch the afternoon sun. They light up the undergrowth beneath the rowan trees and the willows.

Primula vulgaris. Common wild primrose, aka P. acaulis.

 I heard the curlew calling for its mate on the common grazing land.

I am hoping to see an otter on the river, which would be fantastic, but no luck so far.

 

 

We have placed a wild life camera under the bridge and have only photographed  Blackbirds so far. I did see a Dipper, but was unable take a picture before it flew away. The Dipper was darting about the rocks looking for food.

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Dipper

New flowers in bloom this week are;

Marsh marigold (along the riverbank), Wild garlic, Pignut, pink purslane, Tomentil, Bluebells.

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One of the parents at the school gave me a jar of Wild garlic pesto. It was fantastic with pasta.

27 degrees in the garden today-wonderful

The camera filmed pipistrelle bats flying in and out of their roost under the bridge.

I received a lovely present from one of the children in the nursery today with

six wonderful duck eggs. Poached eggs on toast for lunch-delicious!

New flowers in bloom this month;

Speedwell, Plantain, Meadow buttercup, Daisy, Violet, Bugle, Ewe sorrel and Ferns

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The Rowans are covered in blossom along the river side and they smell wonderful.

Oh no the Midges are out! However, only the males are out. We are waiting for the females to start biting.

June 2018

Still no rain and very warm absolutely wonderful

Still light at midnight and I can make out the small white cottages down to the shore. The white walls seem to glow in the dark. There is a full moon and the light is shining on Loch Bracadale. It looks wonderful. The Cuckoo was singing at 1.30am, the Blackbird was the next to wake, followed by all of the other songbirds. This is my favourite time of the year.

A wonderful poem to read by Sara Teasedale

 Dusk in June

“Evening, and all the birds

In a chorus of shimmering sound

Are easing their hearts of joy

For miles around.”

New flowers in bloom this month;

Grass vetchling, Slender thistle, Dandelion, Orchid (early purple), Bugle, Foxglove, Rowan tree, Heath bedstraw, Broad leaved willow-herb, Common valerian, Marsh orchid, Red clover, Common cleavers.

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Marsh Orchid

 

The dew is falling with moist delight,

To cool the meadow, in the fading light.

Scents of meadowsweet and orchid ascend,

Through the night air like, a heady friend.

SW

Two types of Willow are flowering.

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Goldfinch and apple blossom

Butter flies, moths and bees;

Green veined white butterflies and Chimney sweeper moths were flying around the meadow today. Golden ringed dragon-fly and Common Carder bee.

 

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Dragonfly

You dart about with shimmering wings,

Across the meadow where the river sings

SW

I bought a new poetry book today, Selected poems by John Clare. I particularly love Wild Bees.

Wild Bees

These children of the sun which summer brings

As pastoral minstrals in her merry train

pipe rustic ballads upon buey wings”

Closeup of Bombus terrestris, the buff tailed bumblebee or large earth bumblebee, collecting nectar from creeping thistle flower
White tailed bee

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Stoat

We hope to put  chickens on the upper croft next Spring. We will need to consider the Stoat!

   The willow tree was full of Great tit fledglings this morning. We intend to put more nesting boxes around the meadow before next Spring.

   The Blackbirds have been very successful in Roskhill this year. There are at least three pairs feeding their second broods. There is a pair nesting in the wood store. The chiks keep perfectly still and quiet when the adults are away from the nest. The female is waiting on the bird table every morning, to grab a beakful of seeds for her chicks. We get a perfect view from the garage window. They should fledge any day.

   I would like a summer house on the meadow next Spring next to the willows on the sunniest and most sheltered side of the meadow.

 Only a few flowers on the Damson tree, hope for a better show next year.

Meadowsweet.

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Meadowsweet

Goodness it is raining outside. Light rain until early evening.

The crofters are complaining about the lack of rain is preventing the grass from growing. The hay will be poor quality this year. The lambs are not gaining weight like they should either.

July 9 2018

The Blackbird chicks have fledged this morning from their nest in the wood store. They are currently spaced around the garden under the shrubs. I can hear regular high pitched cheeps, telling their parents where they are.

A lovely day here at Roskhill 66 F, with a gentle breeze. 

I watched the pollinators visiting a sunny area of the meadow and saw the following types;

Red soldier beetle, Chimney sweeper moths, Marmelade hover fly, Carder bee, White tailed Bumble bee, wasp, Green fly and unfortunately Midges.

I also saw a pair of Goldcrests sitting in the willow tree. These are one of the smallest British birds weighing the same as a ten pence piece. They are very hard to spot unless you sit very still and watch.

I saw a Wren sitting in the Rowan tree next to the river. I kept very still and it sat for about 15 seconds. This lovely little bird has a beautiful song for his size. He darts around in the undergrowth, looking for insects.

10 July 2018   A very exciting morning!!!

   A bird could be heard flapping behind the wood burner in the chimney stack. We discovered that we could remove a plate to get access to where we thought the birds would be. Unfortunately we could not see the bird. We closed the stove door and suddenly the bird appeared covered in soot. I found a plastic bag and put my hand in the stove to catch the bird. The bird panicked and flew out of the stove towards the window. I had the sense to open all of the windows before trying to catch the bird. Unfortunately the bird flew into the large pane of glass and left a perfect bird shaped sooty mark. I immediately guided the terrified bird towards the open window. The bird flew out of the window and headed for the large sycamore in the neighbours garden.

   I was about to close the window when a second bird flew out of the wood stove and headed for the window. This time the bird flew straight out of the small window without leaving a sooty trail.

Batty Tale

   This reminds me of an experience with a pippestrelle bat a few years ago. One weekend in summer we had some friends around for a barbeque. We left the front door open for over an hour. The next day we found a bat on the bathroom floor. I was not sure if it was injured so I picked it up with a soft towel ( remembering they can carry rabies) and I placed it inside a shoe box. I left the bat in the spare room and looked for flies and spiders to feed the bat.

   There was a gale outside, which made it very difficult to find any type of insect. I found a few flies and went to feed the bat. I used a pair of fine tweezers and the bat snatched the fly from the tweezers. I could feel the vibrations from his tiny teeth on the metal. I used a small teaspoon to give the bat a drink of water. The bat licked the water from the spoon. I did this several times throughout the day.

   The next day I phoned the vet in Portree and asked for advice. I was told to hang a wet tea towel on the washing line at dusk. Once it was quite dark I should hang the bat on the tea towel. Unfortunately, there was still a gale outside. I decided to wait for the next day and see if the wind dropped. I continued to feed the bat and left it on the windowsill. The next morning i went to see the bat but, it had gone. I searched the room and found it tucked inside the pleats of the curtains. The weather was still too windy to release the bat.

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   I later received a phone call from a friend whose family were camping on Dunvegan camp site. During the night the tent had blown down in the gale  I offered them a bed for the night. I brought the bat in the living room to prepare the spare room for our guests.

   We chatted and were enjoying a glass of wine. Suddenly, we heard a scratching noise coming from the shoe box. All of a sudden the bat crawled  out of the box and began to fly around the room. We panicked and ducked as the bat flew past. I had the idea to open the window. The bat flew three more circuits of the room and then flew  out of the window and away. Fortunately the wind had dropped.

What an evening!

10 July

Rain all day!

Hopefully, the sooty sparrows will be all clean tomorrow.

Thank goodness a day free from watering flower beds and pots with the watering can.

The weather has been unsettled all week, with lots of mist and drizzle (definitely the Misty Isle this week).

Today I saw a family of Wrens on the fallen Willow tree. There were five in total. I sat very quietly while they foraged on the decaying stumps for insects.20th July

Received my newsletter from The Highland Branch of Butterfly Conservation. I received a guide to Highland butterflies, which contained a recording form. The weather was much warmer and settled today so I carried out a survey of the butterflies on Oran Uisge.

https://butterfly-conservation.org/in-your-area/highlands-and-islands-branch

 

Butterflies recorded over a 15 minute period;

4 small White, 3 Scotch Argus, 1 Common Blue, 2 Meadow Brown,

1 Green Veined White, 1 Red Admiral.

Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)
Red Admiral

Europäischer Feldhase, Brown hare, Lepus capensis
Brown Hare

A weekend of mist and heavy rain. The land is desperate for moisture. The river Roskhill has been very low for weeks. It is good to hear the water thundering down the gorge.

Small sitting green frog seen from the side on white background

I looked out of the window this morning and saw a young leveret investigating the shrubs and flowers. I tried to take a photo, but had the camera on the wrong setting. (must try harder) We are going to put the wildlife camera outside in the garden tonight. I have seen them before walking down our neighbours drive. Nothing to see except Blackbirds.

I also found an adult frog in the garden, behind the wood store.

Once the digger starts the road for the polytunnel I intend to create a pond on the upper croft to make a wet land for amphibians and other wildlife, very exciting.

Dunvegan Agricultural Show on saturday 28 July

I am going to enter three classes for Scones, flower arranging and painting.

Fingers crossed.

I was awarded 2 Seconds for scones and floral arrangement. Try to get a first next year.

August 2018

The weather has changed for the worst

Rain, Rain, Rain !!!

Better today.

Bonking Beetles

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Common Red Soldier Beetles

I sat in the meadow enjoying the sun and noticed these strange beetles. I googled them.

These are common red soldier beetles on Ragwort. They have amazing yellow under bellies. I have read that they are just about to mate, are mating or have just finished. Frisky little chaps.

October 2018

Ratty

oh no I am in trouble today for spreading bird food on the ground. A rat appeared under the table today. Might need to set a trap, to avoid infestation Oh dear 😦

I Picked enough brambles from the croft today to make an apple and bramble crumble.  I always add a crushed weatabix and chopped nuts to my crumble mix to make it extra crunchy.

I left the remnants of the brambles for the birds.

I have seen several flocks of Redwings this weekend. They fly from tree to tree feeding on the Rowan berries after their long flight from Scandanavia. They will stay all winter before, returning to their breeding grounds.

Cooler nights and the prefect excuse to light the wood burner. Heaven.

November

Two sheep died on the common grazing near the bridge. This has not happened before. I hope they died of natural causes. We placed the camera on the fence for 24 hours. the carcasses were visited by Hooded crows, Buzzards, Ravens, Seagulls, Herons. A fox walked past the camera, but it did not go near the carcass. The carcasses were completely stripped of flesh within 4 days, incredible.

There have been several mink attacks on chicken coops this month. Two in Carbost and one in Ullinish. These are invasive species which were released by animal rights activists several years ago. They are spreading up the west coast and are decimating the wildlife in their wake. They have no natural predators. We wanted to have free range chickens on the croft. Unfortunately, we may need to fence them in to keep them safe.

December 

I have started to make time for my art again, which I love. Getting ready for Christmas.I  joined the Island Chorus Choir and I love it. Performing Vivaldi’s Gloria at the Catholic church in Portree. I will hide at the back, still not sure of some of the tunes or words.

 

 

 

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