Summer 2019

19th October 2019
This Summer has been fantastic for Dragonfly and Butterfly sightings here on the Croft. Phil photographed this magnificent Golden-ringed dragonfly in June. We also enjoyed regular sightings of Common Hawker and Common Darter Dragonflies. The huge influx of Painted Lady Butterflies this Summer was another highlight.

I was thrilled to find a Golden-ringed Dragonfly exuviae back in Spring on a short break we had from the Croft to Perthshire with friends who were looking for Scottish Butterflies. Our friend Zoe showed us how to differentiate the Golden-ringed from other species by examining the jagged mouthparts. This specimen has now joined an array of such items on our bookshelf. The weather was perfect for our trip, we were incredibly lucky to have ideal warm and bright weather to find Butterflies. Our evenings were spent on the the banks of the River Tay quietly enjoying watching the Beavers do their thing. We spent a magical evening watching several Beavers, who were joined by an Otter at one point, and to top off our epic evening of mammal sightings a Fox made a brief appearance on the bank alongside us. Beaver shavings were another treasure we took home to Skye from this trip for our collection.

Our four hens have settled in well and are fantastic layers. Guests at the Bothy get fresh eggs from the Croft to enjoy during their stay. But the hens have caused a fair amount of trouble since arriving and we've now fenced them out from around our house. They are so friendly and tame and want to be part of the family, including coming along for the trip whenever we try to leave the Croft.

The ducks continue to be excellent habitat improvers, enriching the ground for us and still laying well despite their age. We recently lost one of our brown ducks, who hadn't been well for a wee while, and we planted a Rowan sapling to remember her. Our first loss in two years of having poultry and it was a sad day for us all.

Foodwise we've enjoyed bumper crops of potatoes, raspberries, and apples this summer. One of our winter projects is to prepare the ground for a polytunnel which will be ready to use next season.

We've been living here for four years now, which is hard to believe. The time has flown by so quickly. For me, it's beginning to really feel like home and we're starting to see some progress and the results of our efforts. We've so many plans and ideas for the croft it's exciting but sometimes it can be daunting and frustrating and difficult to know where to even begin.

We had a good turnout at the Croft for a wee moth event to celebrate National Moth Night, with a wonderful mixture of ages and experience, and bucket loads of enthusiasm all round.

We enjoyed plenty of Green-Brindled Crescent, Red-line Quaker and Black Rustic, with stars of the show being an Angle Shades and a scarce for us Chestnut.

The sun was out and it was a stunning morning to be outdoors.

The kids also found Ruby Tiger and Drinker moth caterpillars.

Summer mothing yielded a first record for Skye of Great Brocade, and the interesting observation of a Silver Y moth with what seemed to be orchid pollinia attached.

The moth in the image featured above is a Garden Tiger and the one to the right is an Angle Shades.

Phil discovered a new Orchid on the Croft this year, Lesser Butterfly Orchid, which brings our total count to 5.

Our established trees put on a good amount of growth this year with very few losses. In the Orchard, we've seen varied success with about 15 of our 20 fruit trees doing really well. The fruit on the Medlar in its first year was a surprise! We removed most of the blossom from the trees in Spring allowing them to put their energy into establishing strong roots. The trees we planted two winters ago are doing well, and this winter we'll begin planting out many of the trees we've grown from seed. Seed collection continues. The hedging is doing very well with significant growth (despite us failing to give them any weeding or love). I'm feeling pretty happy with our new Willow beds too. The older ones are extremely productive but the new ones I planted last winter have struggled a bit this year. I was initially a bit disappointed, but it may result in a good variety of lengths to work with.
I've recently had my bike repaired by Andy at South Skye Cycles based here in Sleat. I had a problem with the rear wheel puncturing despite replacing the tube several times and even the tyre.  I left it out in the salty sea air all last summer intent on getting round to it.  It needed love and Andy did a great job getting me back on the road.  They have bikes available to hire so anyone staying with us here at Stonechat Bothy can hire bikes here to explore the island.    You can also find the most beautiful pottery here at Westmans Pottery

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