Sunday, 9 September 2012

All in a (long) day - barges, ospreys, whales, old seals.

Yesterday started early for me. At 5:30 I was looking out over Kirkhaven to see a stunning first light but also a barge just outside the harbour entrance. Today the 30 tonnes of machinery was going to be delivered to help demolish the tractor shed.

As the sun drifted up above the horizon and the high tide approached, the barge, skillfully skippered by Duncan, edged its way into the harbour piloted from the shore by experience local boatman Colin Murray who knows the details of the Kirkhaven harbour better than anyone.

But about 10metres from the jetty where it had to unload it could get no further, touching rocks on each side. At the top of the tide it still couldn't progress so after a lot of head scratching and with the fear of getting stuck it headed out backwards machinery still on board. Another foot or two of water would have been enough to get it in but as it was a neap tide there just wasn't quite enough.
So it is back to the drawing board and the tide timetables to find a bigger tide to come in on. The best laid plans etc, the tractor shed gets a small reprieve.
In the meantime the rest of the island was looking stunning in a glorious late summer day. Until, that is, the sound of autumn drifted in on the wind. Geese, pink footed geese, the first of the year on the island making a sound that takes 10degrees off the temperature immediately. A group of 20 first, then groups of 40 and 50 further out told us how the seasons are progressing. Also taking advantage of the fine day was an osprey and short-eared owl both heading south.
Another sign of the changing season was a female grey seal in the harbour. She was looking huge (this isn't rude to say about a seal) after a summer feeding up and also being heavily pregnant. Of interest was the marking that she had on he back, "OH" which is a marking given to her by the seal researchers. This shows she is an older animal as nowadays they use flipper tags and the individual markings of the seals own coat. To complete the picture we also saw a minke whale and 2 porpoises the day before.

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