Monday, 13 August 2018

Nesting and perching above the Sound of Arisaig

On our way along the shore of the Sound of Arisaig towards Loch nan Uamh Mike and I passed a few camping spots which we've used on previous trips.  The overcast weather, warm air and lack of a breeze meant that the midges would be particularly troublesome, so we opted for this pebble beach.  There's some flat ground above the beach for camping, and we knew we could get up onto a rocky spur to get away from the worst of the little devils.

What this image doesn't show very well is that the beach is quite steep; landing or launching here when the weather is from the south can be tricky.  We carried the boats up to a flatter area just above the high water mark, and were able to watch the tide come up then recede during the evening.

I've always loved the pebbles on this particular beach; what appear to be uniform pale grey pebbles at first glance are transformed into rich shades of brown, dark and light grey, bottle green and deep red when they are washed by the water.

Waterworn and tumbled, I wondered what the story of each individual pebble might be - fascinating to imagine the processes that have led to their deposition here.  As many are Lewisian Gneiss, one of the oldest rocks on the planet, that story might be a long tale.

We pitched our tents and carried stoves and food up onto the rocky spur.  On the way up a Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) shot out of a bank near the path. 

On the way back to collect some more stuff, I looked carefully at the place it had emerged, and saw the glitter of a tiny eye looking back at me.  Once again the bird shot out, and a closer look revealed a beautifully concealed nest containing a clutch of young chicks.  We hurried on, and very soon the bird returned to her nest.  When moving to and from the beach we tried to avoid this spot so as not to cause disturbance, but each time were seen carefully away by the little bird.

From our own perch, we looked out across the Sound of Arisaig to the Glenuig shore and beyond to Ardnamurchan which was just visible in the mist.  We had originally intended to spend most of the following day paddling these waters which we know pretty well, but a look at the tide times and the weather forecast caused us to change our plan slightly.  Intending an early start, we turned in soon after supper - I ducked into the tent having raced around to lose a cloud of midges intent on their own supper.

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