Summer 2023

25th June 2023
We've been enjoying the incredible weather the West Coast has been lucky to have for the last 6 weeks or so. We've been making the most of it - spending time at the beach and getting out on the water, taking our yellow canoe Tystie out, and exploring new places looking for wildlife and wildflowers. We had a beautiful walk at Bheinn Shuardail, near Broadford, looking for wildflowers when we found an interesting-looking ladybird. We identified it as a Hieroglyphic ladybird which neither of us had never come across before - we very rarely see ladybirds at all here. There are no records on the NBN atlas for this species and I am hoping we have submitted the first record for Skye! We are enjoying using the Obsindentify and iRecord apps for our natural history observations, and submitting records.

On the croft, the wildflowers and birdsong have been incredible. We were very excited to discover a Garden Warbler singing here for the first time. He must think the Croft is favourable habitat, capable of providing lots of food to successfully raise young here. He's still here - but I don't think any females have showed up sadly. Hopefully in the future the croft will be home to a breeding pair! A new bird for the croft list at any rate with a lovely song that we've been lucky to enjoy as we go about our jobs. I am really enjoying using the Merlin app to improve my birdsong and call identification skills

We've been drinking mint tea as we always do during spring and summer, but we're becoming more adventurous with our teas. I was lucky to go along on a foraging walk led by the amazingly magical Wildcrafter and artist Jemima Hall which inspired me to use Meadowsweet, Clover and Nettle in my tea - all abundant on the croft. Jemima has walks coming up in both Skye and Glasgow and I would highly recommend booking your space. Phil has been experimenting with making fermented Rosebay Willowherb tea, which was new for us and we both loved. It's been a slow start to our horticulture efforts this year thanks to the very low temperatures and deep frosts that persisted well into March, though as they always do, things are getting there now and catching up. The courgettes are beginning to come and we've been enjoying tatties and Strawberries for a wee while (when we can beat the kids and birds to them).

Phil has been busy at Armadale Castle and Gardens leading Dawn Chorus walks and Moth mornings. There are more chances to join him and see what comes to the traps throughout the season on the 29th of June, 27th of July, 31st of August and 21st of September.

We're also hosting a tour of the Croft on the 6th of July with Landworkers Alliance where Phil will be focussing on how we manage for biodiversity. This tour will be useful for those wanting to learn more about managing areas for wildflowers, nature based solutions for drainage, rush and bracken management and establishing fruit trees and shrubs. We will also discuss management of a young woodland, with examples of coppicing and pollarding at various stages. Click ​here to book your place.

There will be another chance to have a look around the croft with Phil on the 31st of August, when we are hosting an event here with the Integrating Trees Network. Click ​here to book your place.

This has been the year I have made the time to really develop my skills in basketmaking. My technique is slowly improving and I'm excited to spend a week in August on an immersive week-long course in Ireland with Basketmaker and artist ​Hanna Van Aelst. I've set up an ​Instagram page for my basketmaking journey, and I hope to sell them on ​Folksy. I'm not expecting to be very productive over the school holidays, but I might surprise myself. Please give my page a wee follow if you would like to see the baskets I create from Willow that we grow here on the Croft.

We've finally got a ​Skyeskyns sheepskin in the Bothy to add to the cosiness and comfort and it is looking so pretty and I want more. We've also added a couple of new tartan blankets from the Tartan Blanket Co (great sale on now!) one of which is over the rocking chair - another new addition this season (for our guests to fight over). I'm inspired by the amazing Banjo Beale and his series ​Designing the Hebrides. We really loved watching the Ulva Bothy in Episode 2. I loved watching Banjo on Interior Design Masters. Maybe we could get him to revamp the bathroom in Stonechat Bothy this winter!

We've had amazing guests this season and we have been touched to read some very lovely comments left in our guestbook. We love it when our guests really appreciate what we are doing here - both inside and out of the Bothy. I am beginning to think about all the improvements that we will make over winter to keep making Stonechat Bothy and Wildlife Croft Skye a special place to visit.

We still have availability in July for anyone looking to visit Skye for a short break this Summer. We have availability from the 8th to the 11th of July, and the 15th to the 19th of July.

Wishing all our guests and followers a lovely Summer x


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