Jonathan: Whatever might be said of the poor weather this year, and the poor yield from garden and croft (and for that matter tourism), it’s been a good year for wild flowers, and native orchids in particular. There’s been thousands and thousands of them scattered across the croft, and they’ve remained in flower for an exceptionally long time, due to the mild temperatures and the ground never drying out. They’ve even been appearing in our gardens – never seen them there before. This magnificent specimen of Northern Marsh Orchid was found today in the garden at Eight Askernish. The flower head (ignoring the stem below) is about five inches long!
Jonathan: Quite a day for wildlife! This morning, driving back to the Big Garden from the croft, there were half a dozen or so seals ‘beached’ on the skerries close by the Eriskay Causeway. They were so near, and their outlines so striking against the turquoise blue of the water, I stopped a while by the stone revetment to watch them. I reached for my camera, but remembering all the tasks I had to get through today I thought better of it. A pity, a real pity, because as I let out the clutch and accelerated an otter suddenly appeared on the revetment right beside me – with a fish in its mouth! If only I’d stopped!! … I need to re-order my priorities. This afternoon, on the way home from Daliburgh, we saw two short-eared owls engaged in a dog-fight, presumably over territory. And last but not least, at the croft this evening, working on fencing, I could hear a sky lark singing, but the song was not from up in the sky, but the ground and nearby. Looking about me, I could seee – perhaps just 15m away – the male skylark dancing on the spot, his crest raised and wings fluttering and his head thrust forward and beak open as he sang: darting about him, also on the ground, a slightly smaller bird, presumably a female. Apparently unimpressed, she flew off, and he darted away after her. I’ve not found any description of courting rituals in books I have, or online, so don’t know whether this is behaviour is usual.