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Nature Notes January

10.30a.m. Callanish

The male Red breasted Mergansers were certainly “in the mood ” and began posturing and calling. Taking runs across the surface of the loch in the manner of Divers. It was so still and quiet that every little flap and nuance could be clearly heard. At one point two of the males broke into a fight and attempted to drown each other amidst much flapping of wings. Meanwhile the contested female continued to fish.

Another pair appeared to mirror each other’s actions diving simultaneously and reappearing in a carefully orchestrated sequence of movements. I wondered if they mated underwater….

A Curlew bubbled and flew in to alight on the seaweed covered rocks into which it seemed to melt. The Mergansers , now 6 in number , 4 males and 2 females resumed their head bobbing. The males would intermittently throw back their heads and omit a single squeaking call. They really were splendid. Their punk style crests clearly silhouetted against low back light. At that moment a female surfaced with a fair sized fish and all male chivalry was abandoned in the face of greed.

In The distance a dog barked.

It began to rain and the fishing success of the 2 females caught the attention of the gulls.

The birds drew closer and began fishing in the shallower water of the loch edge. 3 splendid males and a lone female. It was easy to hear them as they dived, upending  and flicking their feet,leaving tell tale rings ,bobbing up soundlessly like corks moments later,water droplets running off their backs. It is beautifully quiet and very still,despite the ebbing tide. The loch mirrors the silver grey of the sky and is flat calm,The far shore reflecting in bands of umber and moss green,rain speckled. It is silent. I know in my heart it is the wrong tide for the Otter,but I remain reluctant to move on and pick up the tasks of the day.

12.30.p.m.

Rosehips

December: I walked down the snow covered lane to find the rose bush. It was sharply cold and slippery underfoot and I felt the ice crunch and crack, but the tarmac was reassuring rough nevertheless.

The House Sparrows are fat and fluffed up in the hedge, chirping noisily, and overhead a single silhouetted Starling fluttered it’s wings and sang to itself.

The sky, for this moment was blue. The rose hedge stood stark and brown and my eyes searched for the remembered red of the hips. They are much reduced and shrivelled but still add welcome punches of colour into the bleached ochre and pale straw of winter.

A skein of geese pass over, low enough that the dry rustle of wings is audible. Water drips into a hidden ditch and a passing car disturbs the slush.

The Starling’s song fills my mind as I turn towards home. The sky darkens to pewter as the next hail shower sweeps in from the Atlantic.

 In search of roses
 Shrivelled red hips punctuate
 A darkening sky 

Cards available in the shop now 🙂