Our first Winter

1st April 2016

Non Estuarine Waterbird Survey Tokavaig LCWe moved to this beautiful croft in the South of Skye in October 2015. Despite being away from home for much of the winter, we’ve managed to have many friends come and stay and help us settle in and explore the area.  Phil completed 11 bird surveys, covering around 15 miles of coastline, for the BTO non-estuarine waterbird surveys… no mean feat considering the tides and weather were often unfavourable in his limited time at home. Views of Otters at close quarters, White-tailed Eagles and Great Northern Divers were notable highlights. Sammy, our elderly rescued collie cross, and I joined him for one of the shorter surveys at Tokavaig.  I am expecting our first baby in early March and so myself and Sammy had to remain behind on most occasions.

twenty plume moth PK

We managed to get the moth trap out once in October and once in November when the weather allowed, and had decent hauls with 7 species (21 individuals) in October and 8 species (13 individuals) in November.  The most abundant moth by far being 12 Red-line Quakers in October.  Other highlights included a Swordgrass, Feathered Thorn and some very late July Highflyers.  But our most interesting moth was a beautiful micro found in the house on our second day.  Phil identified this as a Twenty Plume Moth – the only species in its family.

On New Year’s Eve my brothers, their partners and the puppy Miles joined us to celebrate the arrival of 2016.  We were treated to views of the Northern Lights from the croft, as well as incredible views of the Milky Way.

New Years Eve Aurora PK

We tried to take some slow shutter speed photos of the stars and sparklers, but they didn’t turn out too well.

Skye Sparklers PK

Buzzard PK 20160221We regularly see a local buzzard with distinctive light colouration on its head, making it easy for us to recognise this individual. We’ll need to come up with a suitable name for this bird as we continue to observe it around the croft.

A sign of spring 23rd Feb PKDrumfearn translates to ‘Alder Ridge’ in English.  Phil collected seed from Alder trees on the croft, with the aim of growing our own seedlings to plant.  Native trees including Rowan, Oak, Alder, Birch and Scots Pine were planted around 10 years ago and the croft boundary was deer fenced to protect the young trees from grazing, and allow them to establish.  We hope to use the current shelter provided by these trees, and to create more, to grow vegetables on the croft as well as providing habitat for wildlife. In the long term we hope to increase the diversity of native species on the croft, planting Elder, Holly, Aspen and Hawthorn amongst others. Phil photographed the only sign of Spring on the croft in late February – an Alder catkin.

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