Jonathan: We call them ‘pet lambs’, but according to our Carrick guest from California, they’re known there as ‘bottle babies’! Last year there was just one, so we were his only company in his oh-so-impressionable early weeks. For his own sake we had to ween him off bottled milk and re-integrate him into the flock as early as possible. It was hard for everyone! As the weeks passed, the lamb’s clamouring for milk and comfort fell away, and after some months I would not have been able to identify him except by rounding up the sheep and checking ear tags. That was until just a day or two ago. I’d rounded up the rams and wedders for shearing and dosing, and was working through them one by one, some with more difficulty than others. There’s some who kick and struggle relentlessly, others that accept the inevitable. But there was one that seemed to behave very oddly: constantly turning its head to look at me. When I’d finished it just lay there, looking up at me, and when I bent down to pull it to its feet it just stood there smelling my ears face and touching my nose with his. Funnily enough I didn’t make the connection at the time, but since then every visit to the croft this same young ram is now following me about, and even comes into the hen house with me: just as he used to do when he was a little lamb and he came everywhere with me. It’s intriguing how the close-up scent of me stirred up recollections from the past, and renewed old relationships. Here he is, on the right, shorn for the first time, and thankful for a still, warm sunny day.
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.