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.