What’s a perfect day? Well I’m sure you all have your own ideas about that, but mine came pretty close this Easter at Oystercatchers.
- Got up at a sensible holiday time – checked out view from bedroom window – perfect.
- Padded downstairs swathed in new luxurious bathsheet. Great shower in the downstairs bathroom – hot and powerful.
- Lingered over a leisurely breakfast – cinnamon and sultana bagels with coffee and orange juice (even better – the Co-op is now doing Fairtrade versions of our coffee pods so I can even indulge in the coffee machine with a clear conscience!
- Rummaged through kayaking box – all kit present and correct. Got out kayaks as water is flat calm, tide is high at 10.30, sun is out. Other half desperate to put his new sea kayak through its paces. Air full of birdsong – finches chittering as we get ready to leave, larks singing high above the rough grazings, curlews calling mournfully to each other
- Paddled down past Ardnish – sheep grazing quietly, pairs of Oystercatchers being very territorial, a couple of herons crouching protectivly like old men fishing.
- Sighted a dozen or so seals bobbing up and watching us curiously, flanking us as we drift downstream and out past the peninsula.
- And then…there was a sudden glimpse of something liquid and lithe, cork-screwing through the water, heading straight for my kayak. Then a head appeared, less than 10cm from the prow – long, sensitive whiskers framing a curious, almost dog-like face. Under he dived, and back up again on the other side of the boat. Pure magic. (Image not mine – wish it was!)
- We watched him disappear in the general direction of Pabay so we continued our paddle towards Broadford and suddelny there he was again, head bobbing up briefly as he turned through the shallow water in front of us. Then he hauled himself out onto one of rocks and we spent a further 20 minutes simply watching him groom himself, wriggling on his back with all four paws in the air, rubbing his shoulders on the seaweed, almost losing his dignity and falling off the rock as a particularly good itch got scratched. Then finally he slid off and we could see him swimming off again towards Pabay, or maybe turning more towards Broadford.
The experience of watching an otter in his natural habitat is truly wonderful. We didn’t have to go too close – it was he who chose to come out of the water next to my kayak (I’ve never been that close to an otter before and I have spent many years paddling near them as they go about their business here off the West Coast of Scotland). We then just had to sit in the water where we could see him clearly, never approaching him or bothering him but just happy to see him in his element.
We came home quite content to regale the teenager who had remained in bed about our adventures and the perfect day resumed:
- Wine, French bread, Stilton and Brie for lunch. Poddled about the garden redoing the pots, trying to sort out the drainage problem on the upper garden (Grrr. OpenReach Superfast-mess-up-the-road, kill off our hedge, leave a gaping hole!!!)
- Amused ourselves watching the local shepherd shooing the sheep back across the inlet to Ardnish where they belong. Re-sited the driftwood “seat” in the bottom garden as the sheep have been using it as a scrathcing post.
- Filled up the bird feeders and counted our avian visitors: 7 goldfinches, 2 greenfinches, 4 siskins (new for us here), numerous chaffinches, a few tits, some sparrows, a robin, a couple of blackbirds, a pair of Rock Doves, 4 Hooded Crows, one Rook (ridiculous looking as it crouched down next to a feeder designed for sparrows), the ubiquitous starlings, 2 pairs of collared doves…
- Re-stocked the woodstore so guests can continue to enjoy the wood-burning stove of an evening
- Supper of sausages, beans and spuds – what more could you want? (Well the Merlot and Zillionaires Pudding helped!)
- And then we spotted them – the shepherd had missed one of his flock. And she had produced 2 tiny lambs in next door’s garden. Less than an hour old, staggering drunkenly over the rough ground, getting an ear caught on a dock stem, already managing that perfect lamb jump – all four little hooves in the air at once. It was a cold evening, but dry for the next couple of hours so long as they got enough feed…and those sinister Hoodie Crows don’t attack them….and the Bonxies stay away….
A perfect day, at Oystercatchers, on Skye……
(I’m glad to say the 2 wee lambs did survive the night, although we did go out to check first thing as it had been wet all through from about 10.00pm on. Not sure we can stand the responsibility until the shepherd finds them and takes over!)